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Related Scary Tags:
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Fri, Jun 10, 2016
from http://phys.org/news/2014-07-vapor-global-amplifier.html#:
New study confirms water vapor as global warming amplifier
"The study is the first to confirm that human activities have increased water vapor in the upper troposphere," said Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School and co-author of the study.... Using the set of climate model experiments, the researchers showed that rising water vapor in the upper troposphere cannot be explained by natural forces, such as volcanoes and changes in solar activity, but can be explained by increased greenhouse gases, such as CO2.... Climate models predict that as the climate warms from the burning of fossil fuels, the concentrations of water vapor will also increase in response to that warming. This moistening of the atmosphere, in turn, absorbs more heat and further raises the Earth's temperature. ...


Oh, right. Physics!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 23, 2016
from New York Magazine:
New Paper Suggests Catastrophic Climate Shifts May Be Decades Away
Using computer models, evidence from ancient episodes of climate change, and modern observations, Hansen and his team arrived at one essential conclusion: The melting of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets will set off a vicious cycle that dramatically accelerates the pace of climate change. The key concept here is ocean "stratification," a process by which cold, fresh meltwater rises to the ocean surface while warmer salt water is pushed beneath. (The Washington Post notes that an "anomalously cold 'blob' of ocean water" has been detected off the southern coast of Greenland.) That warmer salt water would eventually reach the base of the ice sheets, melting them from below, thus spurring more stratification, which would then spur more melting, which would then spur more stratification, which would spur more warming, until our grandchildren are all swallowed by the sea. But that's not all! Hansen's paper also projects that the influx of cold meltwater in the North Atlantic region, combined with warmer equatorial waters, would drive midlatitude cyclones so strong, the waves would be capable of thrusting gigantic boulders ashore. ...


All Systems Are Pointing. Any Solutions Are Prerequisites. Atlantic Seaboard Aquatically Plundered. Awkward Statements Acronyming Panic: A.S.A.P.!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 11, 2016
from ClimateCentral:
CO2 in the atmosphere rose more in 2015 than scientists have ever seen in a single year
... "Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years," Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. The rate of increase in carbon dioxide concentrations is 200 times faster than the previous extreme jump between 11,000 and 17,000 years ago, when levels rose 80 ppm over about 6,000 years.... Michael Mann, an atmospheric science professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who is unaffiliated with NOAA, said the carbon dioxide milestone shouldn't be over-interpreted. "This spike is almost certainly due in substantial part to the ongoing El Nińo event, which is a fleeting effect that increases carbon dioxide concentrations temporarily," Mann said. "Carbon dioxide concentrations are a lagging indicator, and they don't accurately reflect recent trends in the more important variable -- our actual carbon emissions." ...


CO2 is the gift that keeps on giving, for a thousand years.

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Wed, Jan 13, 2016
from Australia ABC News:
Baby fish may get lost in silent oceans as carbon dioxide rises
Future oceans will be much quieter places, making it harder for young marine animals that navigate using sound to find their way back home, new research has found. Under acidification levels predicted for the end of the century, fish larvae will cease to respond to the auditory cues that present-day species use to orient themselves, scientists reported in the journal Biology Letters. ...


We'll never find Nemo now.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 10, 2016
from InsideClimate News:
Vermont Governor Urges State to Divest from Coal, Exxon
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Thursday his state should take action against climate change this year by divesting public pension funds from coal and from oil giant ExxonMobil, because of its history of sowing doubt about climate change despite the company's own scientists having studied it. Speaking at his annual State of the State address, Shumlin said, "The urgency for us to take every sensible action against climate change has never been greater." He asked his legislature to send him a bill that would divest the state's public pension funds from all coal stocks, as well as from stock in Exxon. ...


Now that's what I call leadership.

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Tue, Nov 10, 2015
from CommonDreams:
Overheated Planet Entering 'Uncharted Territory at Frightening Speed'
With new evidence that the concentration of greenhouse gases broke yet another record in 2014, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Monday that the warming planet is hurtling "into uncharted territory at a frightening speed." The United Nations weather agency's latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin (pdf) reports that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 397.7 parts per million (ppm) in 2014, substantially beyond the 350ppm level deemed "safe" by scientists to avoid global warming.... "Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations," Jarraud continued. "Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels." ...


That scientist sounds as if he actually knows about this stuff. Can we have a different pundit, please?

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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from Bloomberg:
You're About to See an Incredibly Rare Cloud, and It's Proof the Climate Is Changing
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Share on Google+ E-mail In a few weeks, you may get to see evidence the atmosphere is changing -- if you're lucky. That's when noctilucent clouds, the world's highest, peak in number and show up in the night sky just after sunset as electric-blue swirls in the mesosphere, the coldest place on the planet... Changes in the clouds reflect "how we affect the atmosphere down here," Elsayed Talaat, AIM's program scientist, said by telephone from Washington. "If you increase the methane down below, you are going to increase the water vapor up above." Carbon dioxide also may play a role, Randall said. The gas, which warms the lower atmosphere, "can actually cause the upper atmosphere to cool," she said. ...


If one of those clouds looks like Jim Inhofe, we'll know we're onto something.

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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from London Guardian:
Record boost in new solar power continues massive industry growth
A record amount of solar power was added to the world's grids in 2014, pushing total cumulative capacity to 100 times the level it was in 2000. Around 40GW of solar power was installed last year, meaning there is now a total of 178GW to meet world electricity demand, prompting renewable energy associations to claim that a tipping point has been reached that will allow rapid acceleration of the technology. ...


Weird. It's as if we have the will to survive.

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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from Climate Progress:
New Report Shows EPA'S Proposed Carbon Regulations Will Create Tens Of Thousands Of Jobs
By 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan will create nearly 100,000 more jobs than are lost, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank. The report's initial estimates are higher than some similar studies; however, the institute found that the job impacts of the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from power plants, would not last, and would become "almost completely insignificant by 2030." ...


Theoretically, no job is permanent unless you can do it while you're dead.

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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from InsideClimate News:
Coal Industry Fighting for Survival on 7 Fronts
...Perhaps no industry has inflicted such widespread costs on society as coal. From debilitating black lung disease to the devastating removal of whole mountaintops, from decades of lung-scarring smog to unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases, coal has imposed its own deadly taxation--hiding the charges under the smoky cloak of cheap and abundant power. ...


War on coal? I'd say coal was waging war on us.

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Sun, Jun 7, 2015
from Bill McKibben, CommonDreams:
How Humankind Blew the Fight Against Climate Change
... As Exxon Mobil's Rex Tillerson -- the highest-paid chief executive of the richest fossil fuel firm on the planet -- gave his talk, the death toll from India's heat wave mounted and pictures circulated on the Internet of Delhi's pavement literally melting. Meanwhile, satellite images showed Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf on the edge of disintegration. And how did Tillerson react? By downplaying climate change and mocking renewable energy. To be specific, he said that "inclement weather" and sea level rise "may or may not be induced by climate change," but in any event technology could be developed to cope with any trouble. "Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity and those solutions will present themselves as those challenges become clear,", he said. But apparently those solutions don't include, say, the wind and sun. Exxon Mobil wouldn't invest in renewable energy, Tillerson said, because clean technologies don't make enough money and rely on government mandates that were (remarkable choice of words) "not sustainable." He neglected to mention the report a week earlier from the not-very-radical International Monetary Fund detailing $5.3 trillion a year in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.... ...


I'm just glad the status quo has such a well-funded support network!

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Wed, May 20, 2015
from Midwest Energy News:
South Dakota to require climate-change lessons in school
Students in South Dakota, like those in 13 other states and the District of Columbia, will be taught about climate change in public schools subsequent to a unanimous vote by the state's board of education this week. The South Dakota Board of Education on Monday adopted several curriculum changes including science standards that are based on the Next Generation Science Standards. A couple of those standards pertain to the science of climate change. And starting in 2018, students will be required to answer questions about climate science on a statewide standardized test. ...


First question: Why did this take so long?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 19, 2015
from Reuters:
Protesters gather in Seattle to block access to Shell oil rig
May 18 About 200 protesters gathered at the Port of Seattle on Monday to block access to a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig headed for the Arctic this summer to resume exploration for oil and gas reserves... Environmental groups have planned days of demonstrations over Shell's plans, saying drilling in the icy Arctic region, where weather changes rapidly, could lead to a catastrophic spill that would be next to impossible to clean up. They also say drilling would threaten the Arctic's vast layer of sea ice that helps regulate the global temperature and that they say has already been disappearing as a result of global warming. ...


Don't drill, baby, don't drill!

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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Tue, May 19, 2015
from Cedar Rapids Gazette:
Man making pipeline prostitution allegation plays secret recording for reporters
IOWA CITY -- A southeast Iowa landowner claiming a land agent offered him a prostitute in exchange for letting a pipeline cross his property allowed reporters to listen Wednesday to an audio recording he said he secretly made of the conversation.... A voice matching Tweedy's starts by reminding another man, purportedly the agent, of previous talks in which the agent hinted at hiring him a prostitute. The man suggests they go to St. Louis, where he can hire two or three 19-year-old prostitutes for $1,200. The man also mentions an escort service. ...


Puts a whole new twist on "crude" oil pipelines.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 19, 2015
from InsideClimate News:
Pennsylvania High School Students Convince School to Divest From Coal
A Pennsylvania high school just made history. George School in Newtown announced April 27 that it would divest its $150 million endowment of holdings in coal mining companies, likely becoming the first secondary school in the nation to join the global movement to rid investment portfolios of fossil fuel stocks. The decision was prompted by a student petition. "I was thrilled that the kids were active and concerned and brought this to the board--and that the board was respectful," said head of school Nancy Starmer. ...


Sounds like twilight for the fossil fuel industry.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 20, 2015
from Washington Post:
Think of Earth, not just your stomach, panel advises
The nation's top nutritional panel is recommending for the first time that Americans consider the impact on the environment when they are choosing what to eat, a move that defied a warning from Congress and, if enacted, could discourage people from eating red meat... the panel's findings, issued Thursday in the form of a 571-page report, recommended that Americans be kinder to the environment by eating more foods derived from plants and fewer foods that come from animals. Red meat is deemed particularly harmful because of, among other things, the amount of land and feed required in its production. ...


But I thought I was supposed to have it my way?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 19, 2015
from Indianapolis Star:
Indiana House panel OKs solar bill on party-line vote
Indiana's electric companies won the first round Wednesday in a contentious fight over a bill that critics say would slam the state's startup solar energy industry.... For nearly two hours, members of the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee listened as a parade of speakers urged them to table the solar energy bill until its full impact could be studied.... just one -- Mark Maassel, the head of the Indiana Energy Association -- was there to fully support the legislation... ...


If the utilities like it then the politicians like it and to hell with what the people want or what's good for Mother Earth.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 2, 2015
from Daily Climate:
A 50th anniversary few remember: LBJ's warning on carbon dioxide
It is a key moment in climate change history that few remember: This week marks the 50th anniversary of the first presidential mention of the environmental risk of carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, in a February 8, 1965 special message to Congress warned about build-up of the invisible air pollutant that scientists recognize today as the primary contributor to global warming. ...


Let's celebrate this extraordinary anniversary by procrastinating a little while longer.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 13, 2015
from Scientific American:
2015 Begins with CO2 above 400 PPM Mark
The new year has only just begun, but we've already recorded our first days with average carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million, potentially leading to many months in a row above this threshold, experts say. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography records of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels show that Jan. 1 was the first day of the new year above that concentration, followed by Jan. 3 and Jan. 7. Daily averages have continued at this level or higher through Jan. 9, though they could continue to dance up and down around that mark due to day-to-day variations caused by weather systems. But even with those fluctuations, 2015 will likely see many months above 400 ppm, possibly starting with the very first month of the year. ...


I'm pretty sure that 400 ppm was a Wild-Assed Guess (WAG), and so isn't really anything to fear, much, really.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 29, 2014
from Sheffield, University of:
Switch from cattle fields to 'carbon farms' could tackle climate change, save endangered animals cheaply
Changing cattle fields to forests is a cheap way of tackling climate change and saving species threatened with extinction, a new study has found. Researchers from leading universities carried out a survey of carbon stocks, biodiversity and economic values from one of the world's most threatened ecosystems, the western Andes of Colombia. The main use of land in communities is cattle farming, but the study found farmers could make the same or more money by allowing their land to naturally regenerate. ...


I'm raisin' a whole herd of carbons.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 15, 2014
from Politico:
How the 'War on Coal' went global
Congressional Republicans who vow to defeat President Barack Obama's "War on Coal" can do little to defend the industry against a growing international threat -- the drying up of its once-promising markets overseas. Just a few years ago, domestic producers had high hopes for selling coal to energy-hungry Asia, but prices in those markets are plummeting now amid slowing demand and oversupply, ceding much of the market space to cheaper coal from nations like Indonesia and Australia. Meanwhile, a lot of U.S. coal can't even get out of the country, thanks to greens' success in blocking proposed export terminals in Washington state and Oregon. And China, the world's most voracious coal customer, just pledged to cap its use of the fuel and is promising to curb its greenhouse gas pollution. ...


War on Coal = Peace on Earth

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Dec 12, 2014
from NBC News:
2014 Boils Toward Warmest Year Ever with Three More Records Broken
Even if it's freezing in your personal universe, Earth as a whole just broke three "warmest" records and is likely to see 2014 go down as the warmest since record keeping began in 1880, scientists reported Thursday. Driven by record warm oceans, combined sea and land temperatures in October were the warmest on record, according to data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On top of that, January-October was the warmest first 10 calendar months, while November 2013 to October 2014 was the warmest 12-month block. ...


Some days ... you just don't want to get out of bed for fear what you'll find.

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Thu, Dec 11, 2014
from BBC:
Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels
Catholic bishops from around the world are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty. Catholics, they say, should engage with the process leading to a proposed new deal to be signed in Paris next year. The statement is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have issued such a call. ...


A global mea culpa.

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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from Associated Press:
As US cleans up, it's exporting more pollution
Heat-trapping pollution released into the atmosphere from rising exports of U.S. gasoline and diesel dwarfs the cuts made from fuel efficiency standards and other efforts to reduce global warming in the United States, according to a new Associated Press investigation. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has reduced more carbon pollution from energy than any other nation, about 475 million tons between 2008 and 2013, according to U.S. Energy Department data. Less than one-fifth of that amount came from burning less gasoline and diesel fuel. Yet the U.S. is sending more fuel than ever to other parts of the world, where efforts to address resulting pollution are just getting underway, if advancing at all. U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel released roughly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere elsewhere during the same period, according to AP's analysis. This fossil fuel trade has helped President Barack Obama meet political goals to curb carbon dioxide at home, by taking it off America's pollution balance sheet. But that does not necessarily help the planet. ...


This is one of those good news/apocalyptic news type scenarios.

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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from London Independent:
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Organic farming is much more productive than previously thought, according to a new analysis of agricultural studies that challenges the conventional "biased" view that pesticide-free agriculture cannot feed the world. The study says that organic yields were only 19.2 per cent lower, on average, than those from conventional crops and that this gap could be reduced to just eight per cent if the pesticide-free crops were rotated more frequently. Furthermore, in some crops - especially leguminous plants such as beans, peas and lentils - there were no significant differences in yields, the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found. ...


I don't need any Berkeley eggheads stating the obvious.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 8, 2014
from Climate Central:
Low Oil Prices May Bode Ill For Climate
Climate change and falling crude oil prices coalesce at the gas pump. Filling the gas tank of a Hummer for $2.18 per gallon in Texas or $2.39 per gallon in New Jersey when a year ago those prices were as much as 75 cents higher means that it's likely people will drive more, burning more gasoline and spewing more CO2 into the atmosphere, experts say.... But since the cost of gasoline fell as crude oil prices began falling earlier this year, gasoline consumption has increased by about 15 percent since January, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. ...


Hummer and Hummer to

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Dec 8, 2014
from New York Times:
Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General
...Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. They share a common philosophy about the reach of the federal government, but the companies also have billions of dollars at stake. And the collaboration is likely to grow: For the first time in modern American history, Republicans in January will control a majority -- 27 -- of attorneys general's offices. ...


You scratch my malfeasant back I'll scratch yours.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 1, 2014
from Globe and Mail:
China at forefront of clean-energy market
China has emerged as the leader in the race to dominate the fast-growing, global clean-energy market, an economic strategy that promises to deliver huge dividends as world governments work toward an agreement to rein in greenhouse gases in the battle against climate change. China is leaving its competitors in its wake as all countries look to gain advantage in the emerging low-carbon economy, according to new analysis by Ottawa consultant Céline Bak.... In each case, China saw stunning growth. Its sales of renewable energy technology grew to nearly $120-billion (U.S.) last year from just $20-billion in 2003. American exports in that renewable energy category grew to $45-billion from $25-billion. ...


See what happens when you don't have to waste energy arguing with deniers?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 1, 2014
from Associated Press:
Climate Funds for Coal Highlight Lack of UN Rules
About $1 billion in loans under a U.N. initiative for poor countries to tackle global warming is going toward the construction of power plants fired by coal, the biggest human source of carbon pollution. Japan gave the money to help its companies build three such plants in Indonesia and listed it with the United Nations as climate finance... Japan's coal projects highlight the lack of rules to steer the flow of climate finance from rich to poor countries -- a critical part of U.N. talks on global warming, which resume Monday in Lima, Peru. There is no watchdog agency that ensures the money is spent in the most effective way, and no definition of what climate finance is. ...


If only irony were a renewable resource.

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Mon, Dec 1, 2014
from New York Times:
Optimism Faces Grave Realities at Climate Talks
... But while scientists and climate-policy experts welcome the new momentum ahead of the Lima talks, they warn that it now may be impossible to prevent the temperature of the planet's atmosphere from rising by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. According to a large body of scientific research, that is the tipping point at which the world will be locked into a near-term future of drought, food and water shortages, melting ice sheets, shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels and widespread flooding -- events that could harm the world's population and economy. Recent reports show that there may be no way to prevent the planet's temperature from rising, given the current level of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and the projected rate of emissions expected to continue before any new deal is carried out. ...


Anybody got a time machine handy?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 24, 2014
from New York Times:
Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels
For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning. The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. ...


Generation... Renewable

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Mon, Nov 24, 2014
from Newsweek:
Can We Overcome Our Disgust Long Enough to Eat Bugs?
...Along with tasting good, insects are full of health benefits. Studies have shown that bugs are high in protein, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin A. They are also easier to farm than livestock, use less water and emit fewer greenhouse gases. A 2013 report by the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization touted the benefits of eating bugs to fight world hunger and reduce pollution. Getting insects on Westerners' plates, though, is no easy task, requiring innovative strategies to overcome a deeply embedded cultural aversion to insects. ...


Should I get my praying mantis burger with or without flies?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 19, 2014
from NPR:
Senate Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Bill, In A Close Vote
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline project to expand an oil pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico has failed the approval of Congress, after the Senate voted against the project Tuesday. The House passed its version of the bill Friday. An early tally showed 35 for and 30 against the bill; subsequent calls for senators' votes failed to net the 60 votes needed for passage. The decisive 41st "No" vote came with 55 votes in favor, and the final tally was 59-41. ...


This XL pipeline vote was Xtra close!

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Wed, Nov 12, 2014
from New York Times:
U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks
BEIJING -- China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases. The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030... A climate deal between China and the United States, the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord. ...


It's like the high school football star and the head cheerleader are dating.

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Tue, Oct 7, 2014
from Christian Science Monitor:
Global warming's effect on oceans is greater than realized, researchers say
The world's upper oceans may have stored far more heat from the warming climate than previously thought, according to a new study that purports to provide the first rough estimate of the amount of heat researchers have missed in their attempts to measure changes on the oceans' heat content. If the results hold up to additional scrutiny, they suggest that global warming's effect on upper ocean temperatures between 1970 and 2004 has been underestimated by 24 to 58 percent, largely the result of sparse long-term measurements in the southern oceans... Getting ocean heating right is important for estimating the amount of sea-level rise caused by the expansion of seawater as it warms and the amount attributed to melting of land-based glaciers and ice sheets, researchers say. ...


Nemo is so fried.

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Tue, Oct 7, 2014
from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Study: EPA carbon rules would save thousands of lives in Illinois and Missouri
A new study concludes that Missouri and Illinois would reap some of the largest public health benefits in the country from rules requiring utilities to cut back on carbon pollution. Researchers at Harvard, Boston and Syracuse universities found the two states could save thousands of lives from 2020 to 2030 if utilities implement carbon control measures at coal plants. Limiting carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants also leads to reduced soot and other pollutants that cause heart and respiratory problems. Under a scenario similar to the EPA's recently proposed carbon pollution rules, the researchers estimated Missouri could prevent 1,200 deaths between 2020 and 2030. In Illinois, about 2,100 lives could be saved. ...


I don't care about lives, I only care about my life.

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Tue, Sep 23, 2014
from National Geographic:
New Reports Offer Clearest Picture Yet of Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Two days before the UN Climate Summit in New York, three new studies paint the clearest picture yet of rising greenhouse gas emissions and the dwindling opportunity for staving off the worst impacts--and also of at least one way that huge undertaking might be shared fairly among the nations of the world.... In Nature Geoscience, Friedlingstein and his colleagues write that the world has already used up two thirds of the CO2 emissions quota that scientists say will keep the planet from warming more than 2?C (3.6?F). Beyond that temperature threshold, serious consequences are expected from sea-level rise and widespread disruption of weather patterns.... The researchers consider two basic principles for distributing the global emissions quota: "inertia," under which countries would continue to emit the same share of global emissions as they do now, and "equity," under which countries would be allowed to emit according to their population, with per capita emissions being the same everywhere. ...


As long as only property owners are allowed to vote!

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Mon, Sep 22, 2014
from BBC:
Rockefellers to switch investments to 'clean energy'
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn (?31 bn) in fossil fuel assets. The announcement will be made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday. Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition. It is part of a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest, which began on university campuses several years ago, the New York Times reports. Pledges from pension funds, religious groups and big universities have reportedly doubled since the start of 2014. ...


At this point they'll have to remove "coal" from the word "coalition."

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Mon, Sep 22, 2014
from New York Times:
Global Rise Reported in 2013 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels, scientists reported Sunday, in the latest indication that the world remains far off track in its efforts to control global warming. The emissions growth last year was a bit slower than the average growth rate of 2.5 percent over the past decade, and much of the dip was caused by an economic slowdown in China, which is the world's single largest source of emissions. It may take an additional year or two to know if China has turned a corner toward slower emissions growth, or if the runaway pace of recent years will resume. In the United States, emissions rose 2.9 percent, after declining in recent years. ...


Way to get back in the game, US! The decline was starting to be embarrassing.

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Fri, Sep 19, 2014
from The Hill:
Proposed air conditioner rules could yield biggest savings
The Department of Energy (DOE) said Thursday it will propose efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners that could yield the most energy savings of any appliance standard. The agency said the standards for commercial unitary air conditioners, which are usually housed on the roofs of large buildings, will save 11.7 quads of energy over the lifetimes of units sold for 30 years.... "If finalized, it would also help cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons, and could save consumers nearly $10 billion on their energy bills through 2030," the White House said. ...


Something tells me we're going to need air conditioning in the future.

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Thu, Sep 18, 2014
from London Guardian:
Obama delays key power plant rule of signature climate change plan
Barack Obama applied the brakes to the most critical component of his climate change plan on Tuesday, slowing the process of setting new rules cutting carbon pollution from power plants, and casting a shadow over a landmark United Nations' summit on global warming. The proposed power plant rules were meant to be the signature environmental accomplishment of Obama's second term. The threat of a delay in their implementation comes just one week before a heavily anticipated UN summit where officials had been looking to Obama to show leadership on climate change. In a conference call with reporters, the Environmental Protection Agency said it was extending the public comment period on the power plant rules for an additional 45 days, until 1 December. ...


That's 45 more days of pure profit.

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Wed, Sep 17, 2014
from The Hill:
GAO: More coal power plants to retire than previously thought
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) increased the amount of coal-fired power plants that it estimates will be retired by 2025. The GAO, which serves as a watchdog for Congress, said Monday that the most current data points to 13 percent of 2012's coal-fueled electric generating capacity being retired by 2025, due to environmental regulations, increase competition from falling natural gas prices and decreasing demand for electricity. ...


Will all those retired coal plants go play golf in Florida?

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Mon, Aug 25, 2014
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Cutting emissions pays for itself, study concludes
Health care savings can greatly defray costs of carbon-reduction policies, experts report. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? Researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the U.S., and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big -- in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. ...


But that means Big Oil and Big Health profits decrease!!!

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Wed, Aug 13, 2014
from Financial Review:
Coal always wins and will stay No. 1, says carbon king Boyce
Peabody Energy chief executive Greg Boyce is calling on coal producers to spend more time and money fighting "symbolic" movements against the industry and is confident China will not adopt a cap on carbon emissions. As the anti-coal collective gathers more mainstream backers, St Louis-based Mr Boyce says the industry needs to do more to counter the attacks, particularly the global fossil fuels divestment campaign. But he is confident that "coal always wins out". ...


In fact, coal will even vanquish us.

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Mon, Aug 11, 2014
from Los Angeles Times:
Keystone XL could mean more carbon emissions than estimated, study says
Building the Keystone XL pipeline could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated for the controversial project, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change that relies on different calculations about oil consumption. ...


Like, nobody's perfect.

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Fri, Aug 8, 2014
from The Register-Guard:
Goals for carbon reduction become law in Eugene
The Eugene City Council voted Monday to put some teeth into previously approved goals to reduce the city's fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. The so-called "climate recovery ordinance," which passed on a 6-2 vote, seeks to cut communitywide fossil fuel use by 50 percent by 2030, compared with 2010 usage. It also calls for city government operations to be entirely "carbon neutral" by 2020, either by reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions or by funding local emission reduction projects.... Mayor Kitty Piercy responded that "science" was the motivation for the ordinance. "What's the cost of not doing something?" she asked. ...


The scientific revolution, now hundreds of years in the making, continues.

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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from Stanford School of Engineering:
Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change
Research demonstrates that it isn't just the carbon dioxide from biomass burning that's the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. They essentially allow biomass burning to cause much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources.... Biomass burning also includes the combustion of agricultural and lumber waste for energy production. Such power generation often is promoted as a "sustainable" alternative to burning fossil fuels. And that's partly true as far as it goes. It is sustainable, in the sense that the fuel can be grown, processed and converted to energy on a cyclic basis. But the thermal and pollution effects of its combustion -- in any form -- can't be discounted... ...


Biomassholes.

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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from New York Times:
A Dozen States File Suit Against New Coal Rules
Twelve states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday seeking to block an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to regulate coal-fired power plants in an effort to stem climate change. The plaintiffs are led by West Virginia and include states that are home to some of the largest producers of coal and consumers of coal-fired electricity.... The suit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The other plaintiffs are Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. ...


The dirty dozen.

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Thu, Jul 31, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
Stanford researchers claim major breakthrough in lithium battery design
A team of Stanford University researchers, including former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, believes it has achieved the "holy grail" of lithium battery design: an anode of pure lithium that could boost the range of an electric car to 300 miles. ...


I'll be able to drive far away from sea level rise -- and fast!

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Wed, Jul 30, 2014
from Planet Ark:
California and Mexico sign pact to fight climate change
California Governor Jerry Brown and Mexican environmental officials signed a pact on Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that could eventually expand the market for carbon credits. The six-page memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation in developing carbon pricing systems and calls on the partners to explore ways to align those systems in the future. "California can't do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico, we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases," said Governor Brown. ...


We are all in this together.

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Wed, Jul 30, 2014
from Climate Progress:
Legislators, Corporations Gather For Secret Meeting Against Clean Energy And You're Not Invited
...Going into their annual meeting in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, ALEC -- the secretive organization that brings together conservative politicians and major corporate interests -- is looking to recalibrate their approach to repealing or obstructing a range of clean energy initiatives after a year of state-level defeats. The 40-year-old group, which has been pushing a corporate-backed, free market-driven agenda for decades, is beholden to a number of utilities and fossil fuel companies that bankroll them and they are expected to show results. At the same time, with renewable energy gaining momentum across the country and homeowners increasingly eager to get in on the rapid growth and falling prices, ALEC risks alienating itself from the public yet again. ...


You dirty rats.

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Mon, Jul 28, 2014
from DeSmog Blog:
U.S. Becomes Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia
Is President Obama's "all of the above" energy policy a success? Or a climate failure? A report issued recently by Bank of America declared the U.S. has now surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer. The daily output average for the first quarter of 2104 exceeded 11 million barrels, a significant increase from the previous quarters' (Sept-Dec 2013) average of 7 million barrels, according to the International Energy Agency. The expansion of domestic oil production in the U.S. has been significant under President Obama, supported by his "all of the above"--or rather the American Petroleum Institute's "all of the above"--energy strategy which has overseen a four-fold increase in drilling rigs under his administration. ...


President Oilbama.

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Tue, Jul 8, 2014
from Bloomberg News:
U.S. Seen as Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia
The U.S. will remain the world's biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs the nation's economic recovery, Bank of America Corp. said. U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in a report today. The country became the world's largest natural gas producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the U.S. was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids... The U.S., the world's largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy's statistical arm. ...


Insatiable.

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Sat, Jun 28, 2014
from University of Chicago, via ScienceDaily:
To address climate change, nothing substitutes for reducing carbon dioxide emissions
... But finding the political consensus to act on reducing CO2 emissions has been nearly impossible. So there has been a movement to make up for that inaction by reducing emissions of other, shorter-lived gasses, such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide, and particulates such as soot and black carbon, all of which contribute to warming as well. Pierrehumbert 's study shows that effort to be, as he puts it, a delusion. "Until we do something about CO2, nothing we do about methane or these other things is going to matter much for climate," he said. ...


The domain name "co2much.com" has been taken. Damn!

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Sun, Jun 15, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
U.S. Natural Gas Exports No Better for Climate Than China's Coal, Experts Say
As the Obama administration inches toward a major expansion of natural gas exports, one of the thorniest questions is how that growth will affect greenhouse gas emissions, possibly worsening the problem of global warming. Although gas contains less carbon than other fossil fuels, it emits more methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 in the short term. Methane leaks into the atmosphere from gas production wells, and from the pipelines that deliver the gas to export terminals. Then you have to count CO2 emissions from the significant amount of energy needed to liquefy the gas so it can be shipped abroad. Finally, exports would likely boost natural gas prices--and that could encourage burning dirtier coal instead. Quantifying all this pollution is enormously complicated, and attempts to do so can lead to some surprising results, as shown by a new study from the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. It reached the startling finding that in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, for China to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States might be no cleaner than for China to keep on burning its own coal. ...


The sooner we harness the true power of hamsters the better!

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Sun, Jun 8, 2014
from University of Edinburgh:
Saving trees in tropics could cut emissions by one-fifth, study shows
Reducing deforestation in the tropics would significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere -- by as much as one-fifth -- research shows. In the first study of its kind, scientists have calculated the amount of carbon absorbed by the world's tropical forests and the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions created by loss of trees, as a result of human activity. ...


Treeific!

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Tue, Jun 3, 2014
from ABC:
Broad Concern about Global Warming Boosts Support for New EPA Regulations
Seven in 10 Americans see global warming as a serious problem facing the country, enough to fuel broad support for federal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions - even if it raises their own energy costs, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.... Sixty-nine percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see global warming as a serious problem; among them, eight in 10 favor new regulations, and three-quarters are willing to pay higher energy bills if it means significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.... Even among Republicans, a group generally more skeptical of government regulation - and less apt to see global warming as a serious problem - 63 percent nonetheless favor reducing power plant emissions, and 57 percent back state-level limits on greenhouse gases. ...


Tea Party party poopers!

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Tue, Jun 3, 2014
from Reuters:
China plan to cap CO2 emissions seen turning point in climate talks
BEIJING, June 3 (Reuters) - China will set an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions from 2016, a senior government adviser said on Monday, a day after the United States announced new targets for its power sector, signalling a potential breakthrough in tough U.N. climate talks. Progress in global climate negotiations has often been held back by a deep split between rich and poor nations, led by the United States and China, respectively, over who should step up their game to reduce emissions. But the adviser's statement, coupled with the U.S. announcement, sparked optimism among observers hoping to see the decades-old deadlock broken. The steps come ahead of a global meet on climate change starting on Wednesday in Germany. ...


What's the carbon footprint of "sparked optimism"?

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Mon, Jun 2, 2014
from The Hill:
Survey: Majority favor renewable energy over coal, despite costs
... a new survey from an environmentally-friendly business group finds a majority of people would support efforts to overhaul the nation's electric power grid to make room for more renewable forms of energy. The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) survey found that two-thirds of people said it is a good idea to "modernize" the nation's power system, while three in four respondents said they would like to use electricity more efficiently in order to reduce the need for old power plants. But 58 percent of people believe say they would like to move from old power sources like coal to new renewable forms of energy like wind, solar, and hydropower, even if it costs more to do so. ...


Imagine the numbers when people realize renewable energy is cheaper!

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Mon, Jun 2, 2014
from Washington Post:
EPA to propose cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30 percent by 2030
The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.... Ever since a climate bill stalled in the Senate four years ago, environmental and public health activists have been pressing Obama to use his executive authority to impose carbon limits on the power sector, which accounts for 38 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.... The American Wind Energy Association, which also supports a federal carbon cap on existing plants, recently published a study that found that consumer rates declined over the past five years in the 11 states that use the most wind, while rates increased collectively in all the other states during that same time period. ...


Let the wild rumpus start!

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Fri, May 30, 2014
from Columbus Dispatch:
Kasich agrees to sign bill revamping green-energy requirements
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday... The bill passed the House 53-38, overcoming opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans who said the measure will lead to job losses and an increase in air pollution.... Senate Bill 310 is a two-year freeze on standards that apply to electricity utilities for renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also makes major changes to the rules when they resume in 2017, ending a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state and expanding the types of projects that count as energy efficiency. ...


A black eye for the buckeye state

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Tue, May 13, 2014
from New York Times:
A Lesson in Farming, Classroom to Cafeteria
Beyond a stack of hay bales, past the site of Indiana's first soil-judging contest, high school students in this tiny eastern town stroll down a grassy slope to reach their newest classroom: a fenced-in field of cud-chewing cattle. Starting in the next academic year, the cattle, which arrived last month and have names like Ground Round and Honey Bear, will be fed by students enrolled in an agricultural science class. Then, when the animals are fat enough, they will be fed back to their caretakers -- as beef patties on lunchroom trays... Small-town schools across the country are turning to hands-on agricultural classes that also supply cheaper, healthier food for their cafeterias. ...


Survival 101

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Wed, May 7, 2014
from London Guardian:
Religious leaders should divest from fossil fuels, says UN climate chief
Religious leaders should pull their money out of investments in fossil fuel companies and encourage their followers to do the same, according to the UN's climate chief. Christiana Figueres, who is speaking at St Pauls Cathedral on Wednesday night, urges faith groups to "find their voice" and "set their moral compass" on climate change, in an article published in the Guardian. Students and other groups have been campaigning in the US and Europe to encourage universities, local authorities and investors to divest from fossil fuel interests. ...


Amen

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Wed, May 7, 2014
from Climate Progress:
Stanford University Will Purge Coal Investments From Its $18.7 Billion Endowment
Stanford University announced Tuesday it would divest from the coal industry, making it the first major university to do so. The university's internal guidelines allow the Board of Trustees to consider whether the "policies or practices" of companies they invest in "create substantial social injury." Following a five-month review process, an advisory panel that included students, faculty, staff and alumni recommended that stocks from companies "whose principal business is coal" be sold off and excluded from any future investments. On Tuesday, the Board voted to follow through on that conclusion. ...


Common Sense 101

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Wed, Apr 30, 2014
from NOAA, via EurekAlert:
NOAA-led researchers discover ocean acidity is dissolving shells of tiny snails off West Coast
A NOAA-led research team has found the first evidence that acidity of continental shelf waters off the West Coast is dissolving the shells of tiny free-swimming marine snails, called pteropods, which provide food for pink salmon, mackerel and herring, according to a new paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Researchers estimate that the percentage of pteropods in this region with dissolving shells due to ocean acidification has doubled in the nearshore habitat since the pre-industrial era and is on track to triple by 2050 when coastal waters become 70 percent more corrosive than in the pre-industrial era due to human-caused ocean acidification. ...


As if. Pteropods died out at the end of the Cretaceous, like 65 million years ago!

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Tue, Apr 29, 2014
from The Canadian Press, via HuffingtonPost:
Northern Gateway Pipeline Rejected By B.C. First Nation
A group of First Nations with territory covering a quarter of the route for the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline met with federal representatives Friday to officially reject the project.... "We do not, we will not, allow this pipeline," Peter Erickson, a hereditary chief of the Nak'azdli First Nation, told the six federal bureaucrats. "We're going to send the message today to the federal government and to the company itself: their pipeline is dead. Under no circumstances will that proposal be allowed. "Their pipeline is now a pipe dream."... The bands said the project is now banned from Yinka Dene territories, under their traditional laws. Members young and old of the Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Saik'uz, Takla Lake, Tl'azt'en and Wet'suwet'en communities were unanimous. They said the decision by the four clans marks the end of negotiations. ...


Clearly these natives don't understand how "negotiations" are arranged.

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Sun, Apr 27, 2014
from Delhi Daily:
IPCC's climate change report was whittled down: Senior economist
Harvard University's Professor Robert Stavins said that around 75 per cent of a section on the impact of international climate negotiations was removed. It is to be noted that Stavins was involved in compiling the report. Prof Stavins, a leading expert on climate negotiations at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has also written to the organisers of the Berlin meeting last week to express his "disappointment and frustration" at the IPCC's decision to remove the information. "I fully understand that the government representatives were seeking to meet their own responsibilities toward their respective governments by upholding their countries' interests, but in some cases this turned out to be problematic for the scientific integrity of the IPCC summary for policy makers," he said. ...


Crisis? What crisis?

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Fri, Apr 25, 2014
from CNN:
China: Firm 3D prints 10 full-sized houses in a day
A company in China has used giant 3D printers to make 10 full-sized, detached single-storey houses in a day, it appears. A private firm, WinSun, used four 10m x 6.6m printers to spray a mixture of cement and construction waste to build the walls, layer by layer, official Xinhua news agency reported. The cheap materials used during the printing process and the lack of manual labour means that each house can be printed for under $5,000, the 3dprinterplans website says. "We can print buildings to any digital design our customers bring us. It's fast and cheap," says WinSun chief executive Ma Yihe. ...


Why Rome could be built in a day.

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Fri, Apr 25, 2014
from Los Angeles Times:
Judge suspends Arctic drilling, orders new environmental report
In the ongoing battle over offshore drilling, a federal judge in Alaska told regulators Thursday to redo an environmental impact study that underestimated the amount of recoverable oil and, potentially, the risks to delicate Arctic habitat. The decision by U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline stopped short of scrapping the $2.6 billion in leases, however. His ruling followed an appeals court decision in January that federal officials had arbitrarily decided drilling companies could extract 1 billion barrels of oil from the shallow waters off the northwest coast of Alaska. That figure led to a misguided environmental study, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. ...


Sounds like an arctivist judge to me.

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Fri, Apr 25, 2014
from St. Louis Business Journal:
Peabody reports $44 million Q1 loss
Peabody Energy's revenue declined 6.9 percent in the first quarter, falling to $1.63 billion on lower coal pricing... "U.S. coal demand continues to rebound, resulting in one of the largest inventory drawdowns on record," Chairman and CEO Gregory Boyce said in a statement. "And while current seaborne markets remain challenged, we look for fundamentals to improve as demand continues to increase and supply growth moderates. Peabody's position in the low-cost U.S. basins and high-growth Asian markets allows us to navigate current market pressures and benefit from long-term demand trends." ...


Perhaps they need to invest in the growing market for renewables.

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Wed, Apr 23, 2014
from VOX:
Two degrees: How the world has failed on climate change
...[J]ust this month, the IPCC put out a new report saying, OK, not great, but we can still stay under 2 deg C. We just need to act more drastically and figure out some way to pull carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere. (Never mind that we still don't have the technology to do the latter.)... At current rates, the world will exhaust its carbon budget and breach 2°C in roughly three decades. (If climate sensitivity turns out to be low, that only buys us an extra decade or so.) If we want to stay within the budget and avoid 2 deg C, then, our annual emissions need to start declining each year. Older, dirtier coal plants would need to get replaced with cleaner wind or solar or nuclear plants, say. Or gas-guzzling SUVs would need to get replaced with new low-carbon electric cars. But the longer we put this off, the harder it gets -- the carbon budget gets smaller, and there are more coal plants and SUVs to replace. ...


Happy Earth Day.

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Wed, Apr 9, 2014
from Forbes:
Some Environmentalists Want To Save Utilities From Death Spiral
...utility experts can see the end times for the business model of the old power companies. But the old power companies can remain useful, said Becky Stanfield, deputy director for policy for the Midwest Region of the National Resources Defense Council, if they adapt to changing times...The "death spiral" refers to a highly anticipated scenario in which the utilities' wealthiest customers increasingly adopt rooftop solar systems, as solar systems continue to drop in price. That shifts more of the burden of paying for grid infrastructure onto the utilities' remaining customers, making solar more attractive to them as well....the regulatory structure is partly to blame, because it treats utilities like commodity merchants--the more electricity they sell, the more money they make. That structure discourages efficiency, discourages distributed generation, discourages cooperation with customers. ...


Don't git rid of the grid!

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Wed, Apr 9, 2014
from London Guardian:
BT, Shell and corporates call for trillion tonne carbon cap
Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies today calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change. The companies, which have a combined turnover of $90bn, say the world needs a "rapid and focused response" to the threat of rising global carbon emissions and the "disruptive climate impacts" associated with their growth. In a communiqué coordinated by The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group, the signatories demand governments put in place policies to prevent the cumulative emission of more than a trillion tonnes of carbon, arguing that passing that threshold would lead to unacceptable levels of climate-related risk. ...


The ecopalypse is generally not good for business.

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Mon, Apr 7, 2014
from UC Davis, via EurekAlert:
Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2
For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants' assimilation of nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.... "[T]his is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop," he said. The assimilation, or processing, of nitrogen plays a key role in the plant's growth and productivity. In food crops, it is especially important because plants use nitrogen to produce the proteins that are vital for human nutrition. Wheat, in particular, provides nearly one-fourth of all protein in the global human diet. ...


I'm thinkin' we'll just engineer that out.

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Thu, Apr 3, 2014
from NOAA, via TriplePundit:
Tropical Pacific Ocean Acidification Occuring Much Faster Than Expected, NOAA Finds
Change is taking place in the tropical Pacific Ocean, where NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) researchers have found that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have increased as much as 65 percent faster than atmospheric CO2 since 1998. Rising CO2 concentrations of this magnitude indicate that tropical Pacific waters are acidifying as fast as ocean waters in the polar regions, which may have grave repercussions for marine food webs, biodiversity, fisheries and tourism. ...


Tourism threatened? OMG!

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Mon, Mar 3, 2014
from Environmental News Service:
Hundreds Arrested Protesting Keystone XL at The White House
Police arrested more than 370 young people who tied themselves to the White House fence on Sunday to protest the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Called XL Dissent, the protest was organized by college and university students to urge President Barack Obama to reject the northern leg of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which needs presidential approval because it would cross an international border on its way from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas. ...


Generation KXL

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Thu, Feb 27, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
GAO set to probe State's environmental review -- lawmaker
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) requested an independent audit today of the State Department's environmental review system for projects such as Keystone XL, his latest step to protest the Obama administration's handling of the controversial oil sands crude pipeline... At issue for Grijalva and many green groups fighting KXL is the selection of Environmental Resources Management, the private contractor hired to craft the final EIS for the pipeline that State released last month. ERM is a member of the American Petroleum Institute and used a senior employee on the KXL review who had previously worked for project sponsor TransCanada Corp., among other industry ties that led environmentalists to deem invalid the firm's claim to no financial conflicts that it made before winning the pipeline job. ...


That pipeline is filled with money... for just a few lucky, well-connected dudes.

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Tue, Feb 25, 2014
from Bloomberg:
Colorado First State to Clamp Down on Fracking Methane Pollution
Colorado regulators approved groundbreaking controls on emissions from oil and natural gas operations after an unusual coalition of energy companies and environmentalists agreed on measures to counter worsening smog... "This is a model for the country," said Dan Grossman, the defense fund's Rocky Mountain regional director. "We've got this simmering battle between the oil and gas industry and neighborhoods throughout the state that are being faced with development. That degree of acrimony is pushing the industry and policy makers to look for ways to get some wins." ...


Well I'll be fracked!

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Tue, Feb 25, 2014
from New York Times:
For the Supreme Court, a Case Poses a Puzzle on the E.P.A.'s Authority
In trying to decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under two programs to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants, the Supreme Court on Monday faced what Justice Elena Kagan called "the conundrum here."... Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who may hold the decisive vote, made a point that did not bode well for the agency. "I couldn't find a single precedent that strongly supports your position," he told the agency's lawyer, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the United States solicitor general. ...


It's gonna get hot under those robes!

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Tue, Feb 11, 2014
from BBC:
Hollande and Obama make joint call for climate accord
French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama have issued a joint call for an "ambitious" global climate change agreement. The call comes in an article published jointly in the Washington Post and Le Monde. The presidents requested support for a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions "through concrete actions", at a climate conference in Paris in 2015. ...


Sacre bleu or do I mean sacre green?

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Sun, Feb 9, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
U.S. Keystone Report Relied Heavily on Alberta Govt-Funded Research
The analysis of greenhouse gas emissions presented by the State Department in its new environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline includes dozens of references to reports by Jacobs Consultancy, a group that is owned by a big tar sands developer and that was hired by the Alberta government--which strongly favors the project. ...


I am in a "state" of (not) shock!

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Mon, Feb 3, 2014
from tcktcktck:
Divestment Goes Mainstream as Major Funds Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit
With a shift of nearly two billion dollars away from fossil fuels, the divestment campaign has moved into new territory. Last week, seventeen of the world's largest philanthropic foundations announced commitments to pull their money out of fossil fuel companies and reinvest it in the clean energy economy... The announcement is seen as a signal that the divestment movement is no longer limited to progressive cities and college campuses. Now, a wide range of some of the world's largest foundations including the Park Foundation, Russell Family Foundation, Educational Foundation of America and John Merck Fund are taking a stand for the climate by aligning their investments with the values of their charitable missions. ...


Sounds like the beginning of a bad day for fossil fuels.

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Mon, Feb 3, 2014
from Wall Street Journal:
Oil Boom Increases Barge Operators' Fortunes
The rising tide of North American oil is lifting a lot of barges, as energy companies increasingly turn to rivers and coastal waterways to get U.S. and Canadian crude to refineries. Oil floating on barges from the Midwest down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico coast, for example, is up 13-fold since 2010, as companies find alternate routes where pipelines don't exist or have sufficient capacity. Nearly five million barrels of crude a month is being sent by barge south after companies pump it from North Dakota's Bakken Shale and, increasingly, Canada's oil sands, according to federal data. ...


Stevedores rejoice!

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Mon, Feb 3, 2014
from Washington Post:
Five takeaways from State Department's review of the Keystone XL pipeline
The State Department has finished its massive environmental review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, down to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would move on to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Bottom line: The report concludes that blocking or approving the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would not have a "significant" impact on overall greenhouse-gas emissions and future tar-sands expansion. That's because, it argues, most of Alberta's oil will likely find a way to get to the market anyway -- if not by pipeline, then by rail. ...


Human conquest of Mother Earth is now complete.

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Sat, Feb 1, 2014
from The Independent:
Climate change: Rainforest absorption of CO2 becoming erratic
Tropical rainforests are becoming less able to cope with rising global temperatures according to a study that has looked back over the way they have responded to variations in temperature in the past half a century. For each 1C rise in temperature, tropical regions now release about 2 billion extra tonnes of carbon-containing gases - such as carbon dioxide and methane - into the atmosphere, compared to the same amount of tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s, the study found. Rising levels of man-made carbon dioxide could stimulate the growth of tropical vegetation by providing them with extra "carbon fertiliser" but scientists believe this beneficial effect is probably being outweighed by the detrimental impact on forest growth caused by the extra heat and drought resulting from higher CO2 concentrations. ...


That's why we're cutting the rainforest down as fast as we can. We get carbon credits!

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Sun, Jan 19, 2014
from Reuters:
Canada loses patience on Keystone XL, tells U.S. to decide
Canada bluntly told the United States on Thursday to settle the fate of TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying the drawn-out process on whether to approve the northern leg of the project was taking too long. The hard-line comments by Foreign Minister John Baird were the clearest sign yet that Canada's Conservative government has lost patience over what it sees as U.S. foot-dragging. Baird also conceded that Washington might veto the project, the first admission of its kind by a Canadian government minister. ...


Can't we hurry up and get down to the business of wrecking the earth already?

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Wed, Jan 15, 2014
from Indianapolis Star:
Nuclear power for Indiana?
Indiana hasn't tried to build a nuclear ­power plant since two efforts fizzled in the 1980s over high costs, nearly bankrupting one of the companies in the process. But an influential state senator says it's time to encourage nuclear power again and has introduced a bill that would provide financial incentives to utilities to build nuclear plants. Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, chairman of the Senate Utilities Committee, says nu­clear energy is clean, safe and reliable and should have a place in Indiana's energy lineup. His bill, Senate Bill 302, would allow utilities to build a nuclear plant, or a small modular reactor, and pass along the construction costs to customers years before the plant goes into operation. ...


That's counting your radioactive chickens before they melt down.

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Tue, Jan 14, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
Coal-dependent Mich. ready to make the switch
If there is a "war on coal" being waged in the United States, then there's a new and somewhat surprising recruit in Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The moderate Republican and former venture capitalist stunned some observers last month when he unveiled a four-part energy strategy for the state through 2025, the first tenet of which is to replace coal-fired power plants with natural gas and renewables. He cited both economic and environmental benefits. ...


Mommy, what's a moderate Republican?

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Tue, Jan 14, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
U.S. Carbon Emissions From Fossil Fuels Rose in 2013 as Coal Use Ticked Up
When all the data is in, it looks like carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will have gone up 2 percent in 2013 from the previous year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on Monday. The main reason, it said, is an uptick in the use of coal for electric power. But it's also a sign of growing economic activity in general... The agency said emissions are currently running at about 10 percent less than in 2005, putting the nation almost two-thirds of the way to its goal of cutting them 17 percent by 2020, with much steeper reductions promised even later. ...


Guess I got coal in my stocking after all.

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Mon, Jan 13, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Study: Air travel outpacing driving in fuel efficiency gains
Conventional wisdom says that driving a relatively fuel-efficient car is usually better for the environment than flying. That may no longer be the case, though, according to new calculations from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute.... matching the fuel intensity of an average flight now requires a car get at least 33.8 mpg or have more than two occupants. ...


Still, astral projection beats all.

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Sun, Jan 12, 2014
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
China approves massive new coal capacity despite pollution fears
China approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity in 2013 - six times more than a year earlier and equal to 10 percent of U.S. annual usage - flying in the face of plans to tackle choking air pollution. While efforts to curb pollution mean coal's share of the country's energy mix is set to dip, the total amount of the cheap and plentiful fuel burned will still rise. The scale of the increase, which only includes major mines, reflects Beijing's aim to put 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity into operation over the five years to 2015, more than the entire annual output of India. ...


Ridiculous clown-caps have to be made somewhere, right?

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Thu, Jan 9, 2014
from The Hill:
EPA publishes emissions rule to GOP's dismay
The Environmental Protection Agency published its rule limiting carbon emissions from new power plants on Wednesday to the dismay of coal advocates and the GOP. The proposed rule, published nearly four months after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced it, is a core element of President Obama's climate change agenda. Included in the new performance standards, the EPA pushes for new coal-fired power plants to be built with carbon capture technology, which Republicans argue is impossible since the technology isn't ready... Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) blasted the EPA for publishing the regulation on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. "The EPA just announced another regulation that will increase poverty in coal country," Barrasso said in a statement on Wednesday. ...


The war against mother earth, however, continues, unabated.

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Thu, Jan 2, 2014
from Bloomberg News:
Exxon Russia Ambitions Show Oil Trumps Obama-Putin Spats
As Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin argue over human rights in Russia and the fate of fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the countries' biggest oil companies are preparing to drill for giant discoveries together in the Arctic Ocean. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and OAO Rosneft (ROSN) are set to start their first Arctic well this year, targeting a deposit that may hold more oil than Norway's North Sea. It will kick off a series of landmark projects and cement an alliance begun in 2011. They also plan to frack shale fields in Siberia, sink a deep-water well in the Black Sea and build a natural-gas export terminal in Russia's Far East. "We have a unique partnership," Glenn Waller, Exxon's Russian chief, said in an interview in Moscow. "They have the world's biggest reserves and we have the largest market capitalization." ...


Strange breadfellows, man.

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Mon, Dec 30, 2013
from New York Times:
New Energy Struggles on Its Way to Markets
To stave off climate change, sources of electricity that do not emit carbon will have to replace the ones that do. But at the moment, two of those largest sources, nuclear and wind power, are trying to kill each other off. In the electricity market, both are squeezed by pressure from natural gas, which provides some carbon reductions compared with coal but will not bring the country anywhere near its goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas has a carbon footprint that is at least three times as large as that goal. Energy companies announced this year that five nuclear reactors would be closing or not reopening, and the owners blamed competition from natural gas and wind. In the Pacific Northwest, wind and hydroelectricity -- neither of which produce carbon -- are sparring to push each other off the regional power grid. ...


Make energy not war.

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from ScienceBlog:
Solar activity not a key cause of climate change, study shows
Climate change has not been strongly influenced by variations in heat from the sun, a new scientific study shows. The findings overturn a widely held scientific view that lengthy periods of warm and cold weather in the past might have been caused by periodic fluctuations in solar activity. Research examining the causes of climate change in the northern hemisphere over the past 1000 years has shown that until the year 1800, the key driver of periodic changes in climate was volcanic eruptions. These tend to prevent sunlight reaching the Earth, causing cool, drier weather. Since 1900, greenhouse gases have been the primary cause of climate change. ...


At least it's still the center of our solar system.

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from Politico:
Coal in their stockings
Coal-fired power plants are shutting their doors at a record pace -- and for the most part, nobody's building new ones. The latest round in the war on coal? Not exactly. The reality is that Americans' lights will stay on just fine even as coal plants continue to close, thanks to a quiet revolution in energy efficiency and a boom time for cheap natural gas. Throw in some stricter rules for older plants, and the result is a sharp drop in the economic viability of coal-fired power. Since 2008, coal has dropped from nearly half the U.S. power market to about 37 percent. In the next several years, industry analysts say, hundreds of older coal-fired units will power down for good. ...


For good, indeed.

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Thu, Dec 26, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Need for More Tar Sands Imports Called Into Question With Latest U.S. Energy Data
The U.S. Energy Department has sharply cut its forecast for crude oil imports in the next several years, saying that domestic oil will replace imports at a much faster rate than it expected just a few months ago. Imports in 2016 will be one million barrels a day lower than it projected in April... So what looks like good news from the standpoint of U.S. energy independence is cold comfort to those environmental advocates and scientists who say that the U.S. and the rest of the world must act swiftly to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming in the coming century. For them, higher production of fossil fuels is progress in the wrong direction. ...


Energy security = certain ecocide.

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Thu, Dec 26, 2013
from New York Times:
Start-Up Uses Plant Seeds for a Biofuel
In an unmarked greenhouse, leafy bushes carpet an acre of land here tucked into the suburban sprawl of Southern California. The seeds of the inedible, drought-resistant plants, called jatropha, produce a prize: high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon jet fuel or diesel fuel... The technology also could be used to domesticate wild fruits and vegetables, company scientists said. They said the technology has the potential to unleash a new green revolution for a world that will need to grow 70 percent more food by 2050, according to the United Nations, as agricultural productivity is slowing ...


Fly the eco-friendly and hungry skies.

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Sat, Dec 21, 2013
from Rolling Stone:
Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story
If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet's biggest oil producer and Russia as the world's biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we've begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine. ...


Bafrack Coalbama

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013
from Politico:
John Podesta will recuse himself from Keystone, White House aide says
In news sure to deflate the hopes of climate activists, green energy advocate John Podesta will recuse himself from issues related to the Keystone XL oil pipeline when he begins working as a special adviser to President Barack Obama, a White House aide confirmed to POLITICO late Tuesday. Environmentalists had spent Tuesday cheering the White House's selection of Podesta as an adviser on issues including climate and health care. His opposition to the pipeline is well known, fueling speculation that his new role portended a rejection of the project -- much to the dismay of Keystone's supporters. ...


Squashing the raised hopes of environmentalists will now be called "Pulling a Podesta."

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013
from Huffington Post:
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments In EPA Air Pollution Case
U.S. Supreme Court justices offered President Barack Obama's administration some encouragement on Tuesday as they weighed the lawfulness of a federal regulation limiting air pollution that crosses state lines, mostly emissions from coal-fired power plants. Although it was unclear how the court would rule, a majority of the eight justices hearing the case at points in the 90-minute argument voiced some support for the regulation, which has been challenged by some states and industry groups. ...


Who'd want to wear those robes in a global warming future?

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Mon, Dec 9, 2013
from New York Times:
Eastern States Press Midwest to Improve Air
In a battle that pits the East Coast against the Midwest over the winds that carry dirty air from coal plants, the governors of eight Northeastern states plan to petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to force tighter air pollution regulations on nine Rust Belt and Appalachian states... governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes -- allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States. ...


We need to build sky fences that go up to the heavens.

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Sun, Dec 8, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Worst-Case Scenario for Oil Sands Industry Has Come to Life, Leaked Document Shows
As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada's tar sands three years ago, one of the world's biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans. The document identifies nearly two-dozen environmental organizations leading the anti-oil sands movement and puts them into four categories: radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists -- with how-to's for managing each. It also reveals that the worst-case scenario presented to industry about the movement's growing influence seems to have come to life. ...


A fifth category: people who care about their children and grandchildren.

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Thu, Dec 5, 2013
from New York Times:
Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon
More than two dozen of the nation's biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming. ...


Watch me control global warming.

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Tue, Nov 26, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
Wind Picks Up as Coal Declines in the Midwest
... About a decade ago, coal supplied nearly 80 percent of electricity in the central United States. The figure is now dipping closer to 60 percent. That is still far higher than the national average, where coal accounts for slightly less than half of all generation. Like other regions of the U.S., cheap natural gas generation is mostly taking the place of coal. But non-hydro renewables, primarily wind, are also making a significant dent. The low cost of wind and natural gas has begun to make a dent in coal's dominance and driven down wholesale power prices in the middle of the country, according to the EIA [Energy Information Administration]. ...


Coal slips from King to Archduke!

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Mon, Nov 25, 2013
from Financial Post:
Ontario Premier Wynne vows to ban coal-powered electricity
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Canada's most populous province plans to prevent the construction of new coal plants and ban the burning of coal. "Our work on eliminating coal and investing in renewables is the strongest action being taken in North America,” Wynne told reporters in Toronto, with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at her side. A coal bill will be introduced in the provincial legislature, where Wynne's Liberal Party holds a minority position, next week. ...


Wynne-win!

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Mon, Nov 25, 2013
from Princeton University:
Even If Emissions Stop, Carbon Dioxide Could Warm Earth for Centuries
Even if carbon dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in Earth's atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years, according to Princeton University-led research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study suggests that it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe. The researchers' work contradicts a scientific consensus that the global temperature would remain constant or decline if emissions were suddenly cut to zero. But previous research did not account for a gradual reduction in the oceans' ability to absorb heat from the atmosphere, particularly the polar oceans [..] ...


Ivy league ivory tower debbie downers.

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Sat, Nov 23, 2013
from Denver Post:
Wind and solar were the fastest growing sources for electricity generation in 2012
Wind and solar were the fastest growing technologies for electricity generation in 2012, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Wind capacity grew 28 percent to 60 Gigawatts in 2012 and photovoltaic panels were up 83 percent to 7.3 GWs compared to 2011.... Between 2008 and 2012, the United States doubled renewable electricity generation from a combination of wind, solar and geothermal technologies. ...


Whatever happened to the promise of switchgrass?

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Thu, Nov 21, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
"Saudi Arabia of coal" Study says peak may already be past
It has often been said that the U.S. is the "Saudi Arabia of coal." However, a new report drawing on copious data from government agencies challenges that concept, noting that given global economic and energy trends, the amount of U.S. coal that will be economical to extract is much smaller than previously thought. ...


Hope has not peaked yet.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research:
Coal Continues to Dominate Global Carbon Emissions
Despite explosive growth in renewable energy consumption, continued strong growth in coal consumption has further consolidated coal as the dominate source of carbon dioxide emissions... In 2012 many countries increased dependence on coal. German emissions increased 1.8 per cent in 2012, with coal growing at 4.2 per cent.Japanese emissions increased 6.9 per cent in 2012, with coal growing at 5.6 per cent. EU28 emissions decreased 1.3 per cent, but emissions from coal grew 3.0 per cent. Indian emissions increased 7.7 per cent, with coal growing at 10.2 per cent. ...


I've always thought it was the main coalprit.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from University of East Anglia :
Global Carbon Emissions Set to Reach Record 36 Billion Tons in 2013
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are set to rise again in 2013, reaching a record high of 36 billion tonnes - according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The 2.1 per cent rise projected for 2013 means global emissions from burning fossil fuel are 61 per cent above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol. ...


The climate floodgates are greased.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
More Evidence That America May Have Reached "Peak Car"
...According to research from the Public Interest Research Group, young Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving 23 percent less than they did in 2001. All Americans are driving less, but the decline is even steeper for Millennials. In study after study, the trend is stark. But researchers are still trying to figure out whether the decline in driving is due to a post-recession hangover, or caused by structural long-term changes that mean "peak car" has arrived.... "The findings of the present study indicate that the corresponding rates for fuel consumed also reached their maxima during [2003-2004]. Thus, the combined evidence from these three studies indicates that -- per person, per driver, and per household -- we now have fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel than in the past," concluded Sivak. ...


This is bad news for the proposed car, the "Toyota Peak."

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Thu, Nov 7, 2013
from Planet Ark:
Hopes for strong 2015 climate deal fade, as risks grow
World governments are likely to recoil from plans for an ambitious 2015 climate change deal at talks next week, concern over economic growth at least partially eclipsing scientists' warnings of rising temperatures and water levels. "We are in the eye of a storm," said Yvo de Boer, United Nations climate chief in 2009 when a summit in Copenhagen ended without agreement. After Copenhagen, nations targeted a 2015 deal to enter into force from 2020 with the goal of averting more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels. The outline of a more modest 2015 deal, to be discussed at annual U.N. climate talks in Warsaw on November 11-22, is emerging that will not halt a creeping rise in temperatures but might be a guide for tougher measures in later years. ...


Oh well. There's always next planet.

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Thu, Nov 7, 2013
from BBC:
Concentrations of warming gases break record
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric CO2 grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also broke previous records Thanks to carbon dioxide and these other gases, the WMO says the warming effect on our climate has increased by almost a third since 1990.... Scientists believe that the new data indicates that global warming will be back with a vengeance, after a slowdown in the rate of temperature increases over the past 14 years. "The laws of physics and chemistry are not negotiable," said Michel Jarraud. "Greenhouse gases are what they are, the laws of physics show they can only contribute to warming the system, but parts of this heat may go in different places like the oceans for some periods of time," he said. ...


Physics are for geeks. Me, I'm thinking party like it's 1999!

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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from New York Times:
Looking for a Way Around Keystone XL, Canadian Oil Hits the Rails
HOUSTON -- Over the past two years, environmentalists have chained themselves to the White House fence and otherwise coalesced around stopping the Keystone XL pipeline as their top priority in the fight against global warming. But even if President Obama rejects the pipeline, it might not matter much. Oil companies are already building rail terminals to deliver oil from western Canada to the United States, and even to Asia. ...


Hell-bent to wreck the earth.

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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from BBC:
Report suggests slowdown in CO2 emissions rise
Global emissions of carbon dioxide may be showing the first signs of a "permanent slowdown" in the rate of increase. According to a new report, emissions in 2012 increased at less than half the average over the past decade.... But the rate of increase in CO2 was 1.4 percent, despite the global economy growing by 3.5 percent.... The report was welcomed by green activist Bill McKibben, who is campaigning for a divestment from fossil fuel stocks and shares. "It is good news but nowhere near good enough," he told BBC News. "The solution we need here is dictated by physics, and at the moment the physics is busy melting the Arctic and acidifying the ocean. "We can't just plateau or go up less, we have to very quickly try and get the planet off fossil fuels." ...


Ah -- we're accellerating slightly less toward the cliff.

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Mon, Oct 28, 2013
from GSA, via EurekAlert:
Next generation science standards and drive toward climate literacy generate synchronicity of ideas
... Working with the National Research Council (NRC), an advisory group of scientists, cutting-edge child education experts, and science teachers have developed the first set of science teaching standards in more than 15 years. This framework for science education offers students and teachers the means to engage with science through more hands-on experiences and includes a section on developing climate literacy, which has not previously been included.... One of the biggest shifts in the NGSS, says Wysession, "is a real emphasis on the anthroposphere." The relevance of earth science and engineering to the human experience, and conversely, the impact of humans on earth systems, is presented in a way never attempted before. "Climate now is the capstone" for all interdisciplinary science, says Wysession. Climate literacy, says Wysession, "is critically important, for one, because it's an incredibly delicate system," which has shaped the evolution of life and human civilizations for eons.... ...


The mother of all human sciences: species survival.

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Thu, Oct 17, 2013
from Columbus Business First:
AEP takes coal "out of the picture" as it plans for future
American Electric Power Company Inc. CEO Nick Akins shared his vision for where the Columbus-based utility is headed Wednesday, and his priority list didn't include coal, AEP's traditional go-to fuel source for its power plants. "We see the future for us being natural gas, energy efficiency, smart-grid activities and renewables," he said during a Columbus Metropolitan Club program. Akins didn't seem happy about leaving coal off the list, but he said it is being "taken out of the picture" as a fuel for power plants because of federal air quality regulations, especially proposed rules on carbon dioxide emissions. ...


Another one bites the toxic dust.

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Tue, Oct 15, 2013
from Associated Press:
High court will review EPA global warming rules
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether to block key aspects of the Obama administration's plan aimed at cutting power plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming. The justices said they will review a unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld the government's unprecedented regulation of carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases. The question in the case is whether the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate automobile emissions of greenhouses gases as air pollutants, which stemmed from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, also applies to power plants and factories. ...


Nine robed beings to decide fate of the earth.

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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Washington Post:
Study links warmer water temperatures to greater levels of mercury in fish
...In a lab experiment, researchers adjusted temperatures in tanks, tainted the killifish's food with traces of methylmercury and watched as the fish stored high concentrations of the metal in their tissue. In a field experiment in nearby salt pools, they observed as killifish in warmer pools ate their natural food and stored metal in even higher concentrations, like some toxic condiment for larger fish that would later prey on them. The observation was part of a study showing how killifish at the bottom of the food chain will probably absorb higher levels of methylmercury in an era of global warming and pass it on to larger predator fish, such as the tuna stacked in shiny little cans in the cupboards of Americans and other people the world over. ...


It would seem our energy system exists solely to serve mercury.

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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Columbus Business First:
Southeast Ohio school districts bracing for AEP plant closing, with millions in tax revenue going away
Electric utilities giveth and they taketh away when it comes to providing tax revenue to Ohio school districts.... The Muskingum River plant sits in two school districts, Fort Frye and Wolf Creek, that rely heavily on revenue from the property taxes paid by AEP. School officials tell me their districts stand to lose around 10 percent of their general fund revenue once AEP closes and demolishes the plant. But it looks like Wolf Creek will be hit harder than Fort Frye because of nuances in how Ohio taxes electric utilities ...


Perhaps we should continue killing our children with fossil fuels after all.

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Wed, Oct 9, 2013
from E&E Publishing:
Benefits of curbing GHGs could take a generation to detect -- study
If the countries of the world reduced their greenhouse gas emissions today enough to keep the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, when would they be able to tell that these efforts had succeeded? That's the basic question posed in a paper released yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The answer: about 25 to 30 years, at least where global temperatures are concerned. On a regional level, it may take even longer to see the changes, the paper states. ...


Well then what's the point!

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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Climate Progress:
College Student Sues Alaska Over Climate Change
In remote northern Alaska, a college freshman has taken fossil fuel divestment campaigns a step further by suing the state for failing to adequately address climate change. University of Alaska Fairbanks freshman Nelson Kanuk is from Barrow, a small town at the top of the world where melting ice and permafrost are reshaping land and life. Because of his grave concern for the impacts of climate change on his family's homeland, Kanuk and six other young adults have sued the state of Alaska, arguing that the state has not adequately addressed carbon emissions and global warming. Kanuk first sued the state last year when he was a senior in high school but the lower court dismissed the case, saying that policy decisions should be left to the legislative and executive branches. Kanuk and the others appealed. ...


Kanuk can do!

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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Solar power for the do-it-yourselfer
A Minnesota entrepreneur has brought the assemble-it-yourself concept to solar power. The SolarPod developed by Mouli Engineering of Eagan comes with four solar panels and related parts, including a rack, that its developer says are no more challenging to assemble than furniture from Ikea. "Two guys can put that thing together in an afternoon," said Nick Tamble of HGVids, who assembled one for a how-to video on a retail website. ...


Two guys... and a case of beer.

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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Grist:
It continues: Two Pennsylvania coal plants will close for good next week
The coal sector is in its death throes, thanks to cheaper alternatives and a growing distaste for what is the worst of the global-warming fuels. The latest casualties: two coal-burning power plants in Pennsylvania that will pump their last energy into the grid, and cough their last pollution in to the air, this weekend. ...


Bump, bump, bump, another one bites the dust!

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Tue, Oct 1, 2013
from The Atlantic, on IPCC5:
We Are Terrifyingly Close to the Climate's 'Point of No Return'
What makes the IPCC so important is simple: They are required to agree. Last night, the group pulled an all-nighter to ensure that representatives from all 195 member countries agreed on every single word of the 36-page "summary for policymakers" (pdf). That instantly makes the report the world's scientific and political authority on what is happening to the climate, what will happen in the future, and what needs to be done to avoid the worst impacts.... According to the report, the world can emit about 300 gigatons more carbon (total, ever) before there is a 50 percent confidence the world will reach warming of 2 degrees Celsius, which is the previously agreed upon "point of no return" for the climate system. For reference, 531 gigatons was emitted from 1870 to 2011. On a continued "business as usual" trajectory, the world will burn through about 5 times that safety limit by 2100, putting the world on a path for warming of more than 4.5 degrees Celsius and about a meter of additional sea level rise. This idea of a 'global carbon budget' -- a precursor to a possible global price on carbon emissions -- was endorsed by the group for the first time. Without jumping up and down on the desks of their computer terminals, this forum of scientists has done about as much as they can do. With this report, they have proven humankind's impact on the climate, and confidently projected dire consequences should world governments fail to act immediately. ...


Luckily, everyone listens to egghead scientists when they all agree!

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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Credits to Spur Renewable Energy Sources Seen Set to End: Taxes
Tax credits for the production of wind power and other renewable energy sources face expiration at year's end amid few signs Congress will decide to continue them, tax lobbyists and other analysts say. Failure to extend the 16 tax credits could stymie the development of wind power and the other renewables by undercutting incentives to invest in them, Bloomberg BNA reported... In addition to the 2.3 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for wind, geothermal and closed-loop biomass, other expiring energy incentives include a $1 per-gallon credit for biodiesel producers, a $1.01 per gallon credit for cellulosic ethanol and multiple credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances. ...


Dear God, please protect the tens of billions gifted to the fossil fuel industry each year...

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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Report: Social costs, if accounted for, make coal uneconomical
New research from a national environmental group finds that the cost of producing electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar is lower than that of conventional coal-fired generation when factoring for the adverse costs of climate change and human health impacts. That conclusion, derived from analysis on the "social cost of carbon," is at the heart of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences... ...


Clearly these durn tree huggers don't care a whit about keeping the poor healthcare industry alive!

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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Associated Press:
Coal's future darkens around the world
The future of coal is getting darker. Economic forces, pollution concerns and competition from cleaner fuels are slowly nudging nations around the globe away from the fuel that made the industrial revolution possible. The U.S. will burn 943 million tons of coal this year, only about as much as it did in 1993. Now it's on the verge of adopting pollution rules that may all but prohibit the construction of new coal plants. And China, which burns 4 billion tons of coal a year -- as much as the rest of the world combined -- is taking steps to slow the staggering growth of its coal consumption and may even be approaching a peak. ...


That death can't come soon enough.

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Wed, Sep 11, 2013
from Christian Science Monitor:
'50 dirtiest' US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea
Fifty US power plants emit more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels than all but six nations, says a new report. The study by Environment America paints a bulls-eye on the nation's biggest coal-fired power plants, suggesting that reining in a relatively small share of America's 6,000 electric generating facilities could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions.... The administration's goal is to have power plant emissions regulations in place by 2015, and the new study provides a window into which plants could face steep federal fines unless they slash emissions or close....The "50 dirtiest" power plants generated nearly 33 percent of the US power sector's carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 but only about 16 percent of its electricity. ...


Now that's what I call dirty.

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Tue, Sep 10, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Cap and trade may be hurt as emissions drop off
California's new cap-and-trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions may soon face a paradoxical problem - emissions that are falling faster than expected. A report issued Monday argues that California's emissions are already dropping, undercut by a sluggish economy and the state's growing use of renewable power. That may sound like cause for celebration. But it's a problem for cap and trade.... But California's production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is already lower than the cap for 2015... ...


Don't you just hate it when there's progress?

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Wed, Sep 4, 2013
from National Resources Defense Council (via EcoWatch):
U.S. Becomes Largest Wood Pellet Exporter, Clearcutting Forests and Destroying Wetlands
When you think about burning wood to heat your home, you might imagine a cozy fireplace, not a giant power plant. Unfortunately, utility companies in Europe are making massive investments to convert their power plants to burn wood -- known as "biomass" -- as a replacement for coal and other fossil fuels. This is despite the fact that recent research shows that burning whole trees in power plants actually increases carbon emissions relative to fossil fuels for many decades -- anywhere from 35 to 100 years or more. It also emits higher levels of multiple air pollutants. The result of this new demand has been the explosive growth of wood pellet exports from North America, most of which originate in our Southern forests here in the U.S., putting into peril some of the most valuable ecosystems in the world. ...


Ronald Reagan was right, after all!

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Wed, Sep 4, 2013
from Huffington Post:
'War On Coal' Campaign Against Obama Has Failed, Coal Lobby Concedes
The leading lobbying group for coal companies has acknowledged that the industry's relentless "War on Coal" mantra used to attack the Obama administration has been a failure politically. In a screed against alleged regulatory overreach by federal judges in Washington, Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, writes that the "War on Coal" refrain used to criticize environmental regulation simply failed to resonate with voters during 2012. ...


Perhaps it failed because it's coal we should be at war against!

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Fri, Aug 23, 2013
from Casper Star-Tribune:
A Wyoming first: No bids for coal mining tract in Powder River Basin
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management employees in Cheyenne gathered to unseal envelopes containing bids and checks from coal companies hoping to score the rights to dig in the Powder River Basin. But there were no envelopes to open. No companies bid on the coal lease, said BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny. "This is the first time it's happened in Wyoming," she said. Minutes later, Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy Inc., which owns the mine that had first asked the federal government to lease the coal tract nearly seven years ago, released a statement saying mining the coal wasn't economical. ...


Let today serve as a beacon of hope!

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Thu, Aug 15, 2013
from ScienceAlert:
Ocean acidity continues to increase
A unique comparison of coastal water monitoring near Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica has shown significant changes in ocean chemistry over the past 16 years. The study, published in The Journal of Marine Chemistry, shows a marked and somewhat unexpected increase in the acidity of the seawater in the region.... 'The surprise was that the change in acidity was so large, indicating that natural and human induced changes have combined to amplify ocean acidity in this region,' said Mr Roden. ...


If he's surprised, we should be a little suspicious of his conclusions, since "faster than expected" is the new normal.

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Wed, Aug 14, 2013
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Large coal power plants getting life extensions
The nation's big coal-burning power plants are not ready to become dinosaurs. Utilities are making substantial investments to keep their largest coal generating stations operating for decades -- and emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. Upgrades planned or underway at more than 100 Midwestern coal power plants will reduce emissions of mercury or other air pollutants. But they won't affect greenhouse gas emissions that the Obama administration says it will regulate in 2015 to address climate change. ...


Ol' man coal plant ... He don't say nuthin' ... He jes' keeps rollin' along

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Tue, Aug 13, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Q&A: ALEC's new tactics to weaken renewable laws
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continued its assault on state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) during its 40th annual conference in Chicago earlier this month, with members voting on model legislation that could limit the power of the laws to spark new clean energy construction. Though bills meant to revoke or undercut renewable standards in numerous states failed last session, clean energy advocates say the model Market Power Renewables Act and the Renewable Energy Credit Act proposed by ALEC's energy task force during the conference pose a fresh threat. The Market Power Renewables Act argues for a "voluntary market" that would allow people to invest in renewable energy if they choose without instituting mandates... ...


The only thing "voluntary" the fossil fuel industry does is voluntarily ruin the earth.

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Wed, Aug 7, 2013
from Des Moines Register:
Wind leads energy growth
Iowa is among several states now getting more than 20 percent of its power from wind, a key reason wind energy was the fastest-growing power-generation sector for the first time in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. Wind accounted for 43 percent of all new electricity generation last year, after a $25 billion run of new projects, the department reported....The country's wind energy capacity now is 22 times what it was in 2000. ...


You are the wind beneath my wings.

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Tue, Aug 6, 2013
from Sioux City Journal:
Solar power gains ground in Iowa
Solar power is gaining ground around the world at "record pace," and a growing number of Iowans are also looking to convert their homes and businesses to the alternative energy, according to Bill Haman, industrial program manager for the Iowa Energy Center. ...


All I can say about this is shipoopi.

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Mon, Aug 5, 2013
from Washington Post:
Nebraska trial could delay Keystone XL pipeline
While environmentalists, energy executives and elected officials across North America await the State Department's critical decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a little-noticed trial scheduled for next month in Nebraska could spell problems for the $5.3 billion project. Despite two attempts by Nebraska's attorney general to have the case thrown out, Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy has set a Sept. 27 trial date for arguments in a lawsuit that contends the state legislature unconstitutionally gave Gov. Dave Heineman (R) authority to approve the pipeline route. A win for the plaintiffs -- three Nebraska landowners who oppose the pipeline -- would force TransCanada, the company that wants to build the 1,179-mile northern leg of the project, to go through the entire siting process again. Even supporters do not believe that would permanently block the project, but it could add years to the timeline. ...


This could be the kidneystone of the Keystone project.

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Tue, Jul 30, 2013
from Grantham Research Institute/Carbon Tracker:
Investing in vapor: financial risks of stranded fossil fuel investments (PDF)
... The modelling used in previous analyses by Carbon Tracker and the IEA showed that the carbon budget for a 2 degree C scenario would be around 565 - 886 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) to 2050.... This budget, however, is only a fraction of the carbon embedded in the world's indicated fossil fuel reserves, which amount to 2,860Gt CO2. A precautionary approach means only 20 percent of total fossil fuel reserves can be burnt to 2050. As a result the global economy already faces the prospect of assets becoming stranded, with the problem only likely to get worse if current investment trends continue - in effect, a carbon bubble. ...


I'm banking on the bubble keeping the balloon afloat!

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Wed, Jul 17, 2013
from DeSmogBlog:
Keystone XL Conflict of Interest: Obama Attorney's Law Firm Represents TransCanada
A recent DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Robert Bauer, former White House Counsel and President Obama's personal attorney, works at the corporate law firm Perkins Coie LLP, which does legal work for TransCanada's South Central Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project, formerly known as Alaska Gas Pipeline Project. Furthermore, Dan Sullivan, current Commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources, and former Alaska Attorney General and former Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, is also a former Perkins attorney. ...


It's as if everybody's in bed together!

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Sat, Jun 29, 2013
from Foreign Policy:
Oh, Canada: How America's friendly northern neighbor became a rogue, reckless petrostate.
For decades, the world has thought of Canada as America's friendly northern neighbor -- a responsible, earnest, if somewhat boring, land of hockey fans and single-payer health care. On the big issues, it has long played the global Boy Scout, reliably providing moral leadership on everything from ozone protection to land-mine eradication to gay rights. The late novelist Douglas Adams once quipped that if the United States often behaved like a belligerent teenage boy, Canada was an intelligent woman in her mid-30s. Basically, Canada has been the United States -- not as it is, but as it should be.... But a dark secret lurks in the northern forests. Over the last decade, Canada has not so quietly become an international mining center and a rogue petrostate. It's no longer America's better half, but a dystopian vision of the continent's energy-soaked future. That's right: The good neighbor has banked its economy on the cursed elixir of political dysfunction -- oil. Flush with visions of becoming a global energy superpower, Canada's government has taken up with pipeline evangelists, petroleum bullies, and climate change skeptics. Turns out the Boy Scout's not just hooked on junk crude -- he's become a pusher. And that's not even the worst of it. ...


Ow, Canada.

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Sun, Jun 16, 2013
from McGill, via EurekAlert:
Study of oceans' past raises worries about their future
A McGill-led international research team has now completed the first global study of changes that occurred in a crucial component of ocean chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, at the end of the last ice age. The results of their study confirm that oceans are good at balancing the nitrogen cycle on a global scale. But the data also shows that it is a slow process that may take many centuries, or even millennia, raising worries about the effects of the scale and speed of current changes in the ocean.... "We are changing the planet in ways we are not even aware of," says Galbraith. "You wouldn't think that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would change the amount of nitrogen available to fish in the ocean, but it clearly does. It is important to realize just how interconnected everything is." ...


Interconnecteness means always having to say you're sorry.

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Mon, Jun 10, 2013
from Washington Post:
Carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012, IEA report says
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals, the International Energy Agency said in a report scheduled to be issued Monday. The agency said continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), which IEA chief economist Fatih Birol warned "would be a disaster for all countries." ...


Sounds like hell on earth.

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Mon, Jun 3, 2013
from Bloomberg:
TransCanada CEO says Keystone aids jobs and environment
TransCanada Corp. (TRP)'s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline would benefit U.S. employment and support efforts to tackle climate change, according to the company's Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling. ...


And smoking is good for you, too!

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Wed, May 22, 2013
from The Atlantic:
The (Slow, Tentative) Greening of the GOP
...House Republicans launched the year with a bill that demanded President Obama present a plan to wipe out the federal deficit, one that slashed pay for federal workers, and one that sought to increase renewable energy.... During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney made a point of attacking Obama's embrace of wind energy, pledging that if elected he'd end a long-standing production tax credit for wind power. But the strident opposition of all things renewable didn't go down well in swing districts -- . ...


GOP: Green Over Profit!

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Mon, May 20, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
How Low Can Utility Emissions Go?
When it comes to emissions, carbon dioxide tends to get the lion's share of the headlines. But there have been large gains in some of the other major emissions of the largest power producers in the U.S., according to a new report from NRDC and major energy companies, Benchmarking Air Emissions. The ninth annual report found that sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are 70 percent and 72 percent lower, respectively, than they were in 1990. Mercury is down 40 percent since 2000, the first year that it was tracked. ...


In the post-Apocalypse we can (gingerly) pat ourselves on our leprosy-infested backs.

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Tue, May 14, 2013
from US Pirg:
New Report: Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue
As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Baby Boomers are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting, while driving-averse Millennials move into that phase. These demographic changes and other factors will likely keep driving down for decades... The Millennial generation is leading the change in transportation trends. 16 to 34-year-olds drove a whopping 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than in 2001" the greatest decline in driving of any age group. ...


Shoot. There goes the resale value on my my Chevrolet Millennial.

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Tue, May 14, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Carbon dioxide in atmosphere did not break 400 ppm at Hawaii site
Carbon dioxide measurements in the Earth's atmosphere did not break the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million at a Hawaiian observatory last week, according to a revised reading from the nation's climate observers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revised its May 9 reading at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, saying it remained fractions of a point below the level of 400 ppm, at 399.89. ...


Crisis averted!

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Mon, May 13, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
A Rare Bipartisan Clean Energy Bill Is Ready for Passage
...Legislation is moving through both houses to tweak the tax code to let clean energy developers form a master limited partnership, or MLP, a type of publicly traded company structure not subject to corporate taxes. For three decades, coal, oil and gas companies have used MLPs to raise hundreds of billions of dollars for pipelines, refineries and other projects. The financing vehicle is credited with helping sustain the nation's current drilling boom....No one expects much opposition to the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, the companion bills introduced last month. Co-sponsors include conservative Republicans and legislators from oil and gas states. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's main trade group, is among its backers. ...


I'd say "hell freezing over" except that the Arctic is already melting.

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Mon, May 13, 2013
from Associated Press:
Plans to export US natural gas stir debate
A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking. Expanded drilling is unlocking enormous reserves of crude oil and natural gas, offering the potential of moving the country closer to its decades-long quest for energy independence. Yet as the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers. ...


A fwacking fwenzy? Vewy fwightening!

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Wed, May 8, 2013
from Al Jazeera:
Climate talks end inconclusively, again
Another week of international climate negotiations ended in Bonn, Germany on Friday, but there was little mid-level bureaucrats could do when world leaders remain in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, say environmentalists. ...


Sources say Al Jazeera is in thrall to the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps not?

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Tue, May 7, 2013
from Greenwire:
EPA to defend its greenhouse gas emission rules tomorrow
U.S. EPA will return to court tomorrow to defend its regulations for fighting climate change from multiple challenges by Texas and industry groups. At issue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are two cases that center on EPA's implementation of greenhouse gas air emissions standards under the Clean Air Act after the agency determined the emissions endangered public health. ...


Amazing that the health of the populace needs to be justified in some way.

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from The Keeling Curve:
The Keeling Curve
Want to watch the slow-motion trainwreck of our climate in real time? Go to the Keeling Curve web site and see current ppm rate of CO2 concentration as we march inexorably to 400. ...


I do love the word inexorably.

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from Reuters:
Low-key U.S. plan for each nation to set climate goals wins ground
A U.S.-led plan to let all countries set their own goals for fighting climate change is gaining grudging support at U.N. talks, even though the current level of pledges is far too low to limit rising temperatures substantially. The approach, being discussed this week at 160-nation talks in Bonn, Germany, would mean abandoning the blueprint of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set central goals for industrialized countries to cut emissions by 2012 and then let each work out national implementation. ...


That way we can blame everyone for planetary destruction.

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Wed, May 1, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Mark Zuckerberg's Fwd.us in heated controversy over political ads
Mark Zuckerberg is being unfriended by progressives angered by television ads from his political advocacy group Fwd.us that praise lawmakers for supporting the expansion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.... Though none of the ads suggest that Zuckerberg or Facebook support these policies, that distinction may be lost on the general public. ...


The general public is too busy being on Facebook to delve into the nuances of anything.

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Wed, May 1, 2013
from Slate:
Natural Resource Scarcity Is a Real Thing
Long story short, we're in nothing like the peak oil nightmare that a naive forward projection of the 2003-08 hockey stick would have led you to expect. But we've hardly conquered oil scarcity either. New discoveries are having trouble keeping pace with rising car ownership in Asia and declining production from many established oil sources. Meanwhile, unconventional oil is coming onto the market in part because oil is scarce and expensive, which makes it profitable to extract hard-to-extract oil. That's better for the economy than if we didn't find any, but it also means we haven't returned to the 1990s oil bounty and most likely never will. ...


And I was so looking forward to a remake of Titanic.

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Mon, Apr 29, 2013
from Washington Post:
Obama taps Charlotte mayor to lead Transportation Department, official says
President Obama plans to nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to serve as transportation secretary, a White House official said Sunday... Foxx, whose city hosted the Democratic National Convention last year, has pushed to expand public transit options for Charlotte while serving as mayor. The city has started building the Charlotte Streetcar Project, one of several electric trolley systems underway in the country, and is expanding the LYNX light-rail system so it can reach the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. ...


But is he fairr and balancedd?

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Mon, Apr 29, 2013
from University of Washington:
Grocery Delivery Service Is Greener Than Driving to the Store
At the end of a long day, it can be more convenient to order your groceries online while sitting on the living room couch instead of making a late-night run to the store. New research shows it's also much more environmentally friendly to leave the car parked and opt for groceries delivered to your doorstep. University of Washington engineers have found that using a grocery delivery service can cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least half when compared with individual household trips to the store. Trucks filled to capacity that deliver to customers clustered in neighborhoods produced the most savings in carbon dioxide emissions. ...


Now if I could just get scotch and sodas delivered to me...

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Thu, Apr 25, 2013
from RTCC:
CO2 level nears 400ppm climate milestone
Global atmospheric CO2 concentration is edging towards the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark for the first time in millions of years. That's the expectation of scientists at the Mauna Loa recording station in Hawaii, widely regarded as the most reliable record of atmospheric CO2.... The annual peak is in May just before summer plant growth sucks more CO2 out of the atmosphere. Levels have risen every year since recording began. Scripps estimates that the 400ppm mark could be breached this year and if not, it will definitely be broken in 2014. These levels were last sustained 3.2-5 million years ago when temperatures were 2-3 degrees C warmer. "I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps geophysicist Ralph Keeling, whose father Dave established the network of remote CO2 monitoring. "At this pace we'll hit 450ppm within a few decades," said Ralph Keeling. ...


What's a number, anyway, but some arbitrary identification of a measurable amount?

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Wed, Apr 24, 2013
from Washington Post:
Why aren't younger Americans driving anymore?
Ever since the recession hit in late 2007, Americans have been driving less and less. Was that because of the horrible economy? To some extent, perhaps. But it's striking that Americans are still cutting back on driving even though the economy is growing again.... another huge part of the story is that young Americans are driving much, much less. Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent. The Frontier Group has the most comprehensive look yet of why younger Americans are opting out of driving. Public transportation use is up 40 percent per capita in this age group since 2001. Bicycling is up 24 percent overall in that time period. And this is true even for young Americans who are financially well off. ...


Why drive when you have a smart phone that goes everywhere.

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from Bloomberg News:
U.S. States Turn Against Renewable Energy as Gas Plunges
More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply. Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut. The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy Corp (DUK). and PG&E Corp (PCG). as well as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)., the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)., the largest U.S. coal mining company. ...


A veritable rogue's gallery of profiteers.

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
EPA settles with Wisconsin utilities on coal plant air pollution
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and three other utilities will spend $1.2 billion to clean up coal-fired power plants and shut down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal regulators. Under a settlement filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department will assess a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.... Utility ratepayers won't have to pay for the civil penalties... But it's possible they could pay for the environmental mitigation costs. And over time they will be on the hook for paying for the construction of environmental controls at the coal boilers that will remain open. ...


Even though it's chump change for a utility, still we hope the chumps might change.

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Tue, Apr 16, 2013
from Public Citizen:
New Report Finds: Keystone XL Would Increase Gas Prices and Reduce National Security
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is likely to increase gas prices contradicting claims by pipeline proponents, a new Public Citizen report finds. Public Citizen also concluded that because the Keystone pipeline is designed to promote exports from Canadian tar sands, it will reduce national energy security -- not bolster it, as pipeline backers claim. The report, America Can't Afford the Keystone Pipeline, documents rapidly increasing Chinese national government interests in Canadian tar sands, further confounding security claims. ...


Helloooo. Keystone is supposed to benefit the rich and politicians they support.

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Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from Planet Ark:
Greens ask U.S. to delay Keystone decision after Arkansas leak
Environmental groups on Monday asked the Obama administration to extend the approval process of the Keystone XL pipeline, using last month's spill of heavy Canadian crude oil in Arkansas as their latest reason to delay the project. The Obama administration is deciding whether to approve the Canada-to-Nebraska leg of TransCanada Corp's proposed pipeline, which would link Canada's oil sands, the world's third richest crude oil deposit, to refineries in Texas. The State Department, which issued a draft environmental assessment of the $5.3 billion project on March 1, indicated then that a final decision could come by July or August. ...


Remember the Mayflower!

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Mon, Apr 8, 2013
from Washington Post:
Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake's balance
It is the dawn of the super crab. Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators. That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn't-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters. ...


Oy, this soooooo makes me crabby.

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Mon, Apr 8, 2013
from The Hill:
US carbon emissions drop as gas displaces coal
A switch from coal to natural gas in electricity production helped drive down energy-related U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 to their lowest level since 1994, the federal Energy Information Administration said Friday. The carbon emissions have fallen every year since 2007, with the exception of 2010, according to the agency.... The biggest drop in 2012 came from declining use of coal, a fuel facing fierce competition from low natural gas prices, according to the EIA, which is the Energy Department's independent statistical arm. ...


Great news! Except for the methane emissions and the fact that once natural gas prices rise, um ... blergh

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from Popular Science:
Over Time, Nuclear Power Would Kill Fewer People Than Petroleum
Using nuclear power for energy instead of coal has prevented almost 2 million pollution-related deaths around the world, and could save millions more lives in the future, according to a new paper. It's the latest publication from James Hansen, NASA's fiery climate change scientist, who is retiring on Wednesday after 46 years with the space agency. The paper argues that policymakers should increase nuclear power, rather than continuing dependence on fossil fuels. The 2011 disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant should not deter governments from expanding nuclear power... Nuclear power has already prevented 64 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions, and would prevent the equivalent of another 80 to 240 gigatons, again depending on which fuel it replaces. ...


This lesser of two evils still looks like a killer to me.

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Tue, Apr 2, 2013
from Washington Post:
Bracket busters and gas guzzlers
In addition to broken dreams, shredded brackets and lost productivity, you can add higher carbon emissions to the adverse effects of March Madness. Booz Allen Hamilton put a new spin on bracket tracking this year, developing an online game that allows users to measure the carbon footprint of their predicted winners...In traveling to the Sweet 16 this past weekend at the Verizon Center, Indiana, Syracuse, Miami and Marquette added about 140,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere -- about the same impact of providing one year of heat and electricity to 7,147 homes. ...


That really IS madness!

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Tue, Mar 26, 2013
from University of Georgia:
Discovery May Allow Scientists to Make Fuel from Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere
...researchers at the University of Georgia have found a way to transform the carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere into useful industrial products. Their discovery may soon lead to the creation of biofuels made directly from the carbon dioxide in the air that is responsible for trapping the sun's rays and raising global temperatures... The process is made possible by a unique microorganism called Pyrococcus furiosus, or "rushing fireball," which thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean waters near geothermal vents. By manipulating the organism's genetic material, Adams and his colleagues created a kind of P. furiosus that is capable of feeding at much lower temperatures on carbon dioxide. ...


Rushing Fireball is the name of my punk band!

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Mon, Mar 25, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Keystone Public Comments Won't Be Made Public, State Department Says
When the State Department hired a contractor to produce the latest environmental impact statement for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it asked for a Web-based electronic docket to record public comments as they flowed in each day. Thousands of comments are expected to be filed by people and businesses eager to influence the outcome of the intense international debate over the project ... But the only way to see the comments themselves is by filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, a process that can take so long that the Keystone debate could be over before the documents are made available. ...


Imagine if we could harness the power of secrecy for our energy needs.

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Wed, Mar 20, 2013
from Guardian:
Monbiot: Japan's 'frozen gas' is worthless if we take climate change seriously
There's only one way of knowing whether or not governments are serious about climate change: have they decided to leave most of their fossil fuel reserves in the ground? We have already discovered far more carbon than we can afford to burn, if we are not to commit the world to very dangerous levels of heating. Only if most of it - four-fifths according to a detailed estimate - is left where it sits is there a good chance of preventing more than 2 degrees C of global warming. Forgive me if you've heard me say this many times before. But it is the only point that is really worth making. It doesn't matter how many wind turbines you build, or energy-saving lightbulbs you install, or more economical cars you manufacture: unless most of our fossil fuel reserves are declared off-limits they will, sooner or later, be extracted and burned. The question of whether it is sooner or whether it is later makes little difference: we have already identified more underground carbon than we can afford to burn between now and the year 3000.... Like all the nations which continue to extend the fossil fuel frontier (such as Britain, where companies intend to start producing gas through fracking) Japan is adding to the mountain of fossil fuels we cannot responsibly burn. The brave new technology it has developed, now lauded in the media, would be worthless in a world that took climate change seriously. ...


George, whattaya tryna do, derail the economic recovery?

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Mon, Mar 18, 2013
from Washington Post:
EPA likely to delay climate rules for new power plants
The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists. The discussions center on the first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for power plants, which were proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency nearly a year ago. Rewriting the proposal would significantly delay any action, and might allow the agency to set a separate standard for coal-fired power plants, which are roughly twice as polluting as those fueled by natural gas. ...


USA, the world's biggest (procrasti)nation.

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Sat, Mar 16, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Cradle of Mankind Offers Kenyans Three Centuries of Oil
The U.K.'s Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) and Canada's Africa Oil Corp (AOI). found crude at two wells last year and now plan as many as 11 more test wells in 2013. The valley could yield 10 billion barrels, Tullow estimates, enough to supply Kenya for three centuries or the U.S. for about 18 months.... With the continent's oil industry centered on Nigeria in West Africa, East Africa has been largely overlooked. Of the more than 30,000 wells drilled in Africa, fewer than 500 were in East Africa, according to Afren Plc (AFR), an oil explorer active in the region. "There was a giant under-explored hole on the map," Africa Oil Chief Executive Officer Keith Hill said in an interview in Nairobi. "Now the world has woken up to East Africa. I've never seen a basin of this magnitude." ...


Cradle... to grave.

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Tue, Mar 12, 2013
from Truthout:
Tar Sands Resistance Escalates in Massachusetts
The national week of actions against the Keystone XL pipeline called for by the nonviolent direct action group Tar Sands Blockade is supposed to run from March 16-23. Activists in Massachusetts decided they wanted to turn up the heat a little early. On Monday, March 11, 2013, at about 10:30 AM, over 100 protesters stormed the Massachusetts offices of TransCanada, the company that stands to profit most from the pipeline's construction. After two hours, 26 people were arrested for handcuffing their bodies together, blockading the entrance and refusing to leave until the pipeline project was abandoned. The action was billed as a Funeral for Our Future and included somber songs, construction paper flowers and a homemade coffin. This was the third protest as part of an escalating direct action campaign in Westborough, Massachusetts, targeting the TransCanada offices there. ...


It's getting hot in here so take off all your clothes.

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Tue, Mar 12, 2013
from Grist:
'State Department' Keystone XL Report Actually Written By TransCanada Contractor
The State Department's "don't worry" environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by a private company in the pay of the pipeline's owner. The "sustainability consultancy" ť Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document. The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline's massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable. ...


This isn't a conflict of interest, it's a confluence of interest.

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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from New York Times:
No to Keystone. Yes to Crazy.
I HOPE the president turns down the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada's far north?) But I don't think he will. So I hope that Bill McKibben and his 350.org coalition go crazy. I'm talking chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy, because I think if we all make enough noise about this, we might be able to trade a lousy Keystone pipeline for some really good systemic responses to climate change. We don't get such an opportunity often -- namely, a second-term Democratic president who is under heavy pressure to approve a pipeline to create some jobs but who also has a green base that he can't ignore. So cue up the protests, and pay no attention to people counseling rational and mature behavior. ...


We're already crazy in love with Mother Earth!

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Fri, Mar 8, 2013
from AP, via Yahoo:
Recent heat spike unlike anything in 11,000 years
A new study looking at 11,000 years of climate temperatures shows the world in the middle of a dramatic U-turn, lurching from near-record cooling to a heat spike. Research released Thursday in the journal Science uses fossils of tiny marine organisms to reconstruct global temperatures back to the end of the last ice age. It shows how the globe for several thousands of years was cooling until an unprecedented reversal in the 20th century. Scientists say it is further evidence that modern-day global warming isn't natural, but the result of rising carbon dioxide emissions that have rapidly grown since the Industrial Revolution began roughly 250 years ago.... "In 100 years, we've gone from the cold end of the spectrum to the warm end of the spectrum," Marcott said. "We've never seen something this rapid. Even in the ice age the global temperature never changed this quickly." ...


Those scientists act as if time was something more than just a theory.

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Wed, Mar 6, 2013
from Associated Press:
US scientists report big jump in heat-trapping CO2
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show. Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world's economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China. Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million... ...


But I thought it was good when numbers grew.

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Tue, Mar 5, 2013
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Canadian crude oil finds a new pathway through Minnesota
If President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, large quantities of the Canadian oil it's designed to carry will still roll into the United States -- on railroads with tracks through Minnesota. The proposed pipeline across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska has provoked opposition from environmental activists who say extraction of crude oil from tar sands increases greenhouse gases that cause global warming. As anti-pipeline groups have pressed the White House to kill the project, the oil and railroad industries have been building oil-loading terminals and buying tank cars to ship Canadian crude oil by rail. ...


The show must go on.

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Mon, Mar 4, 2013
from Associated Press:
Climate-change activists jeer as U.S. report says Keystone XL pipeline would have no major environmental impacts
A new U.S. State Department report is the latest evidence that the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada should be approved, supporters say. The draft report, issued Friday, finds there would be no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed route from western Canada to refineries in Texas. The report also said other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change.... The State Department analysis for the first time evaluated two options using rail: shipping the oil on trains to existing pipelines or to oil tankers. The report shows that those other methods would release more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming than the pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline, according to the report, would release annually the same amount of global warming pollution as 626,000 passenger cars. ...


Pity the antiquated thinking of our so-called leaders.

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Mon, Feb 25, 2013
from Rolling Stone:
The Case for Fossil-Fuel Divestment
It's obvious how this should end. You've got the richest industry on earth, fossil fuel, up against some college kids, some professors, a few environmentalists, a few brave scientists. And it's worse than that. The college students want their universities to divest from fossil fuel -- to sell off their stock in Exxon and Shell and the rest in an effort to combat global warming. But those universities, and their boards, have deep ties to the one percent: combined, their endowments are worth $400 billion, and at Harvard, say, the five folks who run the portfolio make as much money as the entire faculty combined... But here's my bet: the kids are going to win, and when they do, it's going to matter. In fact, with Washington blocked, campuses are suddenly a front line in the climate fight -- a place to stand up to a status quo that is wrecking the planet. ...


Me, I graduated from the University of Carbon Emissions!

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Mon, Feb 11, 2013
from Politico:
John Kerry mum on Keystone XL pipeline
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart refused to offer hints Friday about the biggest economic decision facing their countries: the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. But they stressed that the U.S. and Canada agree on a host of economic and environmental causes -- including climate change, the same issue that has motivated many of Keystone's green opponents to try to kill the project. ...


John Kerry to kill Keystone project: JK!

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Tue, Feb 5, 2013
from The Daily Caller:
Economist advocates working less to alleviate global warming, US should adopt European approach to productivity
A Center for Economic Policy Research paper released Monday claims that reducing work hours could result in a significant reduction of greenhouse gases, and with it Global Warming. "The calculation is simple: fewer work hours means less carbon emissions, which means less global warming, the paper's author CEPR's David Rosnick explained.... "For many years, European countries have been reducing work hours -- including by taking more holidays, vacation, and leave -- while the United States has gone the route of increased production." ...


I've been working on my lack of productivity for years.

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Mon, Feb 4, 2013
from EcoWatch:
BREAKING: Oklahoma Resident Locks Herself to Equipment to Protest Tar Sands Pipeline
Early this morning, Norman, Oklahoma resident Elizabeth Leja locked her neck to equipment used in constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. Citing concerns for Oklahoma's waterways and their importance for the health of future generations, her actions have halted construction at the site on Highway 62, just North of the North Canadian River, for the day. The Gulf Coast Project is the Southern segment of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion project by multinational TransCanada.... The tar sands mining project in Northern Alberta is the largest industrial project in the history of humankind, which when fully realized will have destroyed pristine boreal forest and left a toxic wasteland the size of New York State. ...


This is not nearly as big as our main industrial project which is to wreck planet Earth!

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Mon, Feb 4, 2013
from NPR:
Are Mini-Reactors The Future Of Nuclear Power?
The U.S. government is investing millions of dollars in what it considers a promising new industry for American manufacturing: nuclear reactors. The plan is to build hundreds of mini-reactors, dot them around the U.S. and export them overseas. Development of these reactors are already in the works, and at one office park in Lynchburg, Va., where one of these reactors is being assembled, the traditional signs of nuclear reactors are nowhere to be found. There are no cooling towers that look like smoke stacks, no clouds of steam over the buildings -- just a research building and a tower about nine stories tall. ...


In fact, I've got one in my pocket and boy am I happy to see you!

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Mon, Feb 4, 2013
from Bloomberg News:
U.S. Renewable-Energy Capacity Doubled From 2009-2012, BNEF Says
Renewable-energy capacity in the U.S. almost doubled from 2009 to 2012, helping reduce the nation's carbon-dioxide emissions last year to the lowest since 1994, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. The cumulative installed solar, wind, geothermal and biomass-based energy sources in the U.S. climbed to 85.7 gigawatts in 2012, compared with 43.5 gigawatts in 2008, the London-based research company said in a report today. Because the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions by 13 percent from a high of 6.02 gigatons in 2007, it's gained credibility in global negotiations aimed at curbing climate change, Ethan Zindler, a New Energy Finance analyst based in Washington, said yesterday. Natural gas consumption increased as the use of coal and oil declined, according to the report. ...


Am I dreaming?

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Thu, Jan 31, 2013
from Washington Post:
China now burning as much coal as the rest of the world combined
China's coal use grew 9 percent in 2011, rising to 3.8 billion tons. At this point, the country is burning nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Coal, of course, is the world's premier fossil fuel, a low-cost source of electricity that kicks a lot of carbon-dioxide up into the atmosphere. And China's growing appetite is a big reason why global greenhouse-gas emissions have soared in recent years, even as the United States and Europe have managed to curtail their coal use and cut their carbon pollution. Will this last? That's the big question. Chinese coal use slipped a bit in 2012 as the country's economy slowed. And the International Energy Agency expects Chinese coal demand to taper off in the coming years, growing at a slower 3.7 percent annual pace between 2011 and 2016. Other projections suggest that China coal use will peak by 2030, as the nation shifts to cleaner forms of energy. ...


They manufacture more worthless crap than the rest of the world combined, too... could there be a connection?

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Thu, Jan 24, 2013
from Omaha World-Herald:
Heineman approves Keystone XL route; pipeline's fate back in Obama's hands
Gov. Dave Heineman delighted supporters and deflated opponents of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline Tuesday when he approved a new route through Nebraska, saying the project represents a minimal environmental threat while holding substantial economic promise. ...


Such myopia is to be admired.

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Tue, Jan 22, 2013
from Reuters:
Curbing climate change will cost $700 billion a year: report
The world must spend an extra $700 billion a year to curb its addiction to fossil fuels blamed for worsening floods and heat waves and rising sea levels, a study issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) showed on Monday. ...


Pocket change.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from EcoWatch:
How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming
... Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs ... CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America's most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth's atmosphere than CO2... Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane -- 200 times more damaging per ton than CO2. And just as animal waste leaches antibiotics and hormones into ground and water, pesticides and fertilizers also eventually find their way into our waterways, further damaging the environment. ...


That is, like, almost 10 animals per human!

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Tue, Jan 15, 2013
from USA Today:
Climate change report: Seas rising, heat waves ahead
Climate change is already affecting how Americans live and work, and evidence is mounting that the burning of fossil fuels has roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat waves, the Obama administration said Friday ... The 400-page report, required by a 1990 U.S. law, comes as 2012 set a century-plus record for hottest year in the United States. As Americans grapple with such extreme weather, President Obama has called for a national conversation on climate change. ...


Obama: from mum on the subject to all talky talky.

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Thu, Jan 3, 2013
from NUVO:
Hestia displays CO2 emissions at street level
A team of researchers led by Kevin Gurney, a professor and researcher at Arizona State University, has recently developed a model that can predict carbon emissions on the street level. This model, named "Hestia" after the Greek goddess of the hearth, may prove essential in curbing and perhaps slowing the effects of global warming. One of the model's first publicized runs utilized Indianapolis, providing the city with tangible emissions data while positioning Indianapolis as a strong representative for carbon emissions modeling nationally. Currently, the model tracks carbon emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, the compound most responsible for global warming. ...


I can predict your street level emissions!

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Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from London Guardian:
2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century. Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic's sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna -- such as rhinos and bluefin tuna -- were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening. ...


Who'd want to be in charge of this ecotastrophe?

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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from The Morning Call:
EPA successor faces fracking fight
Lisa Jackson's exit as head of the Environmental Protection Agency leaves her successor to combat global warming and set rules for hydraulic fracturing over the objections of businesses and Republican lawmakers... Jackson used a combination of technical expertise and political charm to try to ease complaints from Republicans, such as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe. "Lisa Jackson and I disagreed on many issues and regulations while she headed the EPA; however, I have always appreciated her receptivity to my concerns, her accessibility and her honesty," Inhofe said in a statement Thursday. "She was one of the few at the EPA that was honest with me." ...


So she's the one who told Inhofe global warming is a hoax!

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Thu, Dec 27, 2012
from New York Times:
EPA Chief to Step Down, With Climate Still Low Priority
Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House... She informed the E.P.A. staff of her decision on Thursday morning and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident "the ship is sailing in the right direction." ...


I would counter the ship is sinking!

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Thu, Dec 20, 2012
from The Hill:
Obama: Climate change among top three priorities for second term
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign. The president, in an interview for TIME's Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years. The interview took place before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an incident that had pushed gun control to a top spot on Obama's agenda. Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change. ...


Wait. Ain't that four things???

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Wed, Dec 19, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Keystone Protesters Pay Price for Camping in Texas Trees
Protesters trying to save the world by sitting in trees or blocking equipment used to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline are learning that environmental activism can be a ticket to lengthy jail time in East Texas. Matthew Almonte, Glen Collins and Isabel Brooks landed in jail in Tyler on Dec. 3, charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, resisting arrest and illegal dumping, following efforts to stop work on the TransCanada Corp. (TRP) pipeline. Each has asked for a reduction in the $65,000 bond that must be posted to get out pending trial, without success.... "Gangs of tree sitters who trespass and defecate on landowners' property don't understand Texas values and culture," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said in an essay posted on his website in October. He called the protesters "a bunch of out-of-state, self-appointed eco-anarchists." ...


Texas values = me making my money.

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Wed, Dec 19, 2012
from E&E Daily:
Agencies paralyzed by fiscal cliff, endless succession of CRs
So far this year, U.S. EPA has frozen hiring, delayed contracts and sharply curtailed travel, all to deal with the uncertainty of its future budget. It's not only the so-called fiscal cliff -- with its scheduled across-the-board budget cuts -- that has hampered EPA's operations. Instead, it is an action that has become so routine in recent years that all federal agencies have become experts in handling it: the continuing resolution. And this year, lawmakers seem likely to take it a step further, passing a CR for the entire fiscal year, thanks to fiscal cliff negotiations and a slew of other priorities that have moved the budget to the back burner. ...


Environmental Paralyzed Agency

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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels
... One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power -- and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet -- is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California's electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants. ...


Is that irony or tragedy?

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Wed, Dec 5, 2012
from The New Yorker:
Paying for It
...One way to think about global warming is as a vast, planet-wide Pigovian problem. In this case, the man pulls up to a gas pump. He sticks his BP or Sunoco card into the slot, fills up, and drives off. He's got a full tank; the gas station and the oil company share in the profits. Meanwhile, the carbon that spills out of his tailpipe lingers in the atmosphere, trapping heat and contributing to higher sea levels. As the oceans rise, coastal roads erode, beachfront homes wash away, and, finally, major cities flood. Once again, it's the public at large that gets left with the bill. The logical, which is to say the fair, way to address this situation would be to make the driver absorb the cost for his slice of the damage. ...


Logical? Fair? Not in my America!

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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from FuelFix.com:
Coal power plants to lose up to a quarter of capacity by 2035
Nearly a quarter of the nation's coal power generation capacity could shut down by 2035, as natural gas gains popularity as a cleaner and cheaper fuel for producing electricity, the U.S. Government Accountability Office forecasts. In a report released this week, the agency determined that power industry could retire between 15 percent and 24 percent of its coal-fueled power generation capacity over the next 22 years. The fuel source has been hurt by a combination of lower electricity use, stiffer regulations on pollutants and a rapid decline in the price of natural gas. ...


Too little ... too late.

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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from Bloomberg Business Week:
Obama Plans for Climate Deal as Fiscal Cliff Talks Rage
As leaders in Washington obsess about the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama is putting in place the building blocks for a climate treaty requiring the first fossil- fuel emissions cuts from both the U.S. and China. State Department envoy Todd Stern is in Doha this week working to clear the path for an international agreement by 2015. While Obama failed to deliver on his promise to start a cap-and-trade program in his first term, he's working on policies that may help cut greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020 in the U.S., historically the world's biggest polluter. ...


Fiscal cliff vs. existence cliff

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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from New York Times:
With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming
Global emissions of carbon dioxide were at a record high in 2011 and are likely to take a similar jump in 2012, scientists reported Sunday -- the latest indication that efforts to limit such emissions are failing. Emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project. ...


We'll try again, next planet/evolution/Big Bang.

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Fri, Nov 30, 2012
from Live Science:
US Birth Rate Hits New Low
The rate of babies born in the United States hit a record low in 2011, a new analysis shows. Researchers say the drastic drop in the birth rate among immigrants has greatly contributed to the overall decrease. Based on preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Pew Research Center calculated that the overall birth rate -- the annual number of births per 1,000 women between 15 to 44 -- was 63.2 last year. That's the lowest since such reliable record collection began in 1920 and close to half the birth rate in 1957, amid the Baby Boom years. ...


From baby boom to baby bust.

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Mon, Nov 26, 2012
from Reuters:
Sea snails show impact of more acidic ocean
The shells of some marine snails in the seas around Antarctica are dissolving as the water becomes more acidic, threatening the food chain, a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience said on Sunday... The shell of the pteropod sea snail in the Southern Ocean was severely dissolved by more acidic surface water, the researchers ... found. ...


This is pterrible news!

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Tue, Nov 20, 2012
from London Guardian:
More than 1,000 new coal plants planned worldwide, figures show
More than 1,000 coal-fired power plants are being planned worldwide, new research has revealed. The huge planned expansion comes despite warnings from politicians, scientists and campaigners that the planet's fast-rising carbon emissions must peak within a few years if runaway climate change is to be avoided and that fossil fuel assets risk becoming worthless if international action on global warming moves forward. ...


Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tue, Nov 20, 2012
from Climate Central:
CO2 Hits New High; World Could Warm 7 degrees F by 2060
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That's a 40 percent increase over levels in 1750, before humans began burning fossil fuels in earnest. Although CO2 is still the most significant long-lived greenhouse gas, levels of other heat-trapping gases have also climbed to record levels, according to the report. Methane, for example hit 1813 parts per billion (ppb) in 2011, and nitrous oxide rose to 324.2 ppb. All told, the amount of excess heat prevented from escaping into outer space was 30 percent higher in 2011 than it was as recently as 1990. ...


Humans: born to outdo ourselves even if it kills us!

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Mon, Nov 19, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Slowing cargo ships cuts pollution near ports by more than half, study finds.
Slowing cargo vessels near coastlines by 10 to 15 miles per hour could dramatically cut ships' air pollution, according to a new study. But only a few U.S. ports have initiated such efforts. A speed limit of 14 mph, down from the current cruising speeds of 25 to 29 mph, would cut nitrogen oxides -- a main ingredient of smog -- by 55 percent and soot by almost 70 percent. It also would reduce carbon dioxide -- a potent greenhouse gas and key contributor to climate change -- by 60 percent. With 100,000 ships carrying 90 percent of the world's cargo, air pollution is a heavy burden for people living near ports, so slowing ships could improve their health, researchers say. ...


Are you suggesting my crap not get to me in a timely manner??

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Mon, Nov 19, 2012
from The Hill:
World Bank report warns of "devastating" global warming
A major World Bank report warns that Earth is heading for a 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature rise by 2100 that would bring unprecedented heatwaves, droughts and floods -- effects that put some of the poorest nations at highest risk. "No nation will be immune to the impacts of climate change," states the new report titled "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4 [degrees] C Warmer World Must be Avoided." ...


I'm now banking on the Apocalypse.

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Tue, Nov 6, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
California's first auction of greenhouse-gas credits nears
After six years of preparation, California is poised to become the first state to combat global warming by capping greenhouse gas emissions and making major polluters pay to release more of these gases into the atmosphere. It's part of a landmark law approved in 2006 that seeks to cut the state's production of carbon dioxide, methane and related gases to 1990 levels -- about 17 percent lower than current amounts -- by 2020. Starting next week, big polluters will be required to buy pollution credits if they plan to emit greenhouse gases above their allotted levels. ...


Let's all live on Planet California.

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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from The Independent:
Temperatures may rise 6c by 2100, says study
The world is destined for dangerous climate change this century - with global temperatures possibly rising by as much as 6C - because of the failure of governments to find alternatives to fossil fuels, a report by a group of economists has concluded. It will now be almost impossible to keep the increase in global average temperatures up to 2100 within the 2C target that scientists believe might avert dangerous and unpredictable climate change, according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).... To keep within the 2C target, the global economy would have to reach a "decarbonisation" rate of at least 5.1 per cent a year for the next 39 years. This has not happened since records began at the end of the Second World War, according to Leo Johnson, a PwC partner in sustainability and climate change. ...


Who designs a car without brakes, Park, or Reverse?

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Thu, Nov 1, 2012
from PhysOrg:
Not-so-permanent permafrost
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.... "While the permafrost of the polar latitudes may seem distant and disconnected from the daily activities of most of us, its potential to alter the planet's habitability when destabilized is very real." ...


As we said in 2008, "It turns out permafrost ain't so perma, after all."

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Tue, Oct 23, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Bill McKibben's campus crusade for climate
Bill McKibben is lanky, soft-spoken, scholarly and engaging. He may also be the closest thing the U.S. environmental movement has to a leader. And he's in show business now. Still soft-spoken, but very, very angry. On a crisp night earlier this month, a mostly-Gen Next crowd filled the University of Vermont's Allen Chapel to see the dress rehearsal of the coast-to-coast road show that McKibben hopes will ignite a campus movement. "Do the Math" will visit 20 cities starting Nov. 7. It mixes McKibben's grim analysis with a little inspiration and hope, with a goal of inspiring America's youth to righteous anger, and to lead where the grown-ups have utterly failed. ...


That bus better be solar-powered.

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Mon, Oct 22, 2012
from LJWorld:
14-year-old Lecompton girl sues Brownback administration over CO2 emissions
Topeka -- A 14-year-old northeast Kansas girl has sued Gov. Sam Brownback's administration in hopes of forcing it to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Samantha Farb of Lecompton filed the lawsuit Thursday through her parents in Shawnee County District Court. It's part of campaign launched last year by environmentalists to file such lawsuits in all 50 states. The effort is led by a nonprofit Oregon group called Our Children's Trust. ...


Let the wild rumpus begin!

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Reuters:
More US coal plants to retire due to green rules: study
More U.S. coal-fired power plants could retire due to environmental regulations and weaker-than-expected electric demand, costing the industry up to $144 billion, economists at consultancy Brattle Group said. In a new study, Brattle's economists forecast 59,000 to 77,000 megawatts (MW) of coal plant capacity would likely retire over the next five years. That was about 25,000 MW more than the firm had estimated in 2010, Brattle said in a release. There is about 317,000 MW of coal-fired capacity now in the United States. ...


The golf courses are going to be full!

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Mon, Oct 8, 2012
from Midwest Energy News:
Q&A: Is Midwest coal destined for Asia?
As coal-fired power plants are closing down across the U.S. -- the result of competition from cheap natural gas and tougher pollution rules -- coal companies are looking to ramp up their exports overseas. Coal exports from the U.S. have already increased significantly in the past few years. The U.S. has long exported coal for power plants and steel-making (thermal and metallurgical, respectively) to Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. But now companies are looking to build new ports or expand existing ports in the Pacific Northwest and on the East and Gulf coasts. ...


(singing) Coal! Coal will bring us together!

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from Nature:
Earth's carbon sink downsized
As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to climb, most climate models project that the world's oceans and trees will keep soaking up more than half of the extra CO2. But researchers report this week that the capacity for land plants to absorb more CO2 will be much lower than previously thought, owing to limitations in soil nutrients. Because plants take up CO2 during photosynthesis, it has long been assumed that they will provide a large carbon "sink" to help offset increases in atmospheric CO2 caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Some scientists have argued that the increase might even be good for plants, which would presumably grow faster and mop up even more CO2. Climate models estimate that the world's oceans have absorbed about 30 percent of the CO2 that humans have released in the past 150 years and that land plants have gulped another 30 percent. But the latest study, by ecologists Peter Reich and Sarah Hobbie at the University of Minnesota in St Paul, suggests that estimates of how much CO2 land plants can use are far too optimistic. ...


What is the carbon footprint of optimism?

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from Wall Street Journal:
Ocean acidification emerges as new climate threat
...In the past five years, the fact that human-generated carbon emissions are making the ocean more acidic has become an urgent cause of concern to the fishing industry and scientists. The ocean absorbs about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide we put in the air through fossil fuel burning, and this triggers a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen, thereby lowering the water's pH. The sea today is 30 percent more acidic than pre-industrial levels, which is creating corrosive water that is washing over America's coasts. At the current rate of global worldwide carbon emissions, the ocean's acidity could double by 2100. ...


Buck up, mollusks, or you're history.

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Mon, Sep 24, 2012
from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution :
Nuclear industry slowed by its own waste
Just as the nuclear industry is starting to build reactors after a 30-year drought, it faces another dry spell. The industry thought it had what it needed for its rebirth: federal loan guarantees; a uniform reactor design; a streamlined licensing process. The nightmares from the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, 1,000 new safety regulations and cost overruns would be left in the past, industry officials believed. But what never came together was a long-term plan for how to store the used radioactive fuel. As a result, judges and regulators have slammed the brakes on new reactor projects -- with two exceptions, one of those in Georgia. ...


This is the central story of human civilization: Not knowing what to do with our waste.

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Thu, Sep 20, 2012
from New York Times:
The Social Cost of Carbon: How to Do the Math?
Instead, they decided, all of the agencies would use the same baseline of $21 per ton as the standard in monetizing the social costs of the seven-plus billion tons of carbon generated by American power plants, vehicles and factories each year. But a new paper published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences concludes that the costs of carbon pollution and related climate change are vastly greater -- possibly two to 12 times as much. The problem, the authors argue, is that the federal government is not adequately taking into account the impacts of climate change on future generations. ...


The future is just tomorrow's today. Can't we just agree the future doesn't exist?

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Thu, Sep 20, 2012
from Think Progress:
Republican Meterologist To Romney: Top 10 Reasons The GOP Needs To Accept The Climate Reality
...As a Republican business owner, entrepreneur, meteorologist and father of two upbeat, optimistic boys, I may not fit the stereotype of a "global warming alarmist.” I'm an Evangelical Christian. I'm enthusiastic about streamlining government and letting the markets work. But unlike some, I see no inherent struggle between my faith and the ability of science to improve our understanding of the world. The Creator gave me a brain, to think and reason, and react to facts on the ground. And I'm disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history ... Will the GOP rise to the occasion, or bet the farm on carbon, and ask our grandkids to deal with the mess? It's time for bold leadership. Climate change is a threat, but it is also an opportunity to transition to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable economy. American Exceptionalism shouldn't stop when it comes to innovating new energy sources. We have the technology and entrepreneurial DNA to mitigate climate change, foster innovative, job-producing clean energy technologies, and reinvent America's economy. Let's put it to work, Governor Romney. As one prominent supporter said at the convention: "Go ahead, make my day!” ...


Didn't Clean Harry say that?

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Mon, Sep 17, 2012
from ClimateWire:
Sagging economy, doubts about coal prompt power companies to sell more plants
Dominion Resources' plan to shed 4,000 megawatts from its merchant power portfolio by next year illustrates just how dramatically electricity markets have changed in an era of tightening regulation, volatile fuel prices and a sluggish economy... Mike King, head of the energy, environment and network industries practice at NERA Economic Consulting, said the electric power sector is weathering major disruptions caused by technology, policy, regulatory and market forces. Among these are low gas prices sparked by the technological advancements in oil and gas drilling, and government policies promoting renewables and energy efficiency. Finally, new regulations targeting coal-fired power plant emissions have required significant upgrades in coal plants, making it difficult for their owners to make money. ...


Viva la disruptions!

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Wed, Sep 12, 2012
from Mother Jones:
Is Fracking Good for the Environment?
Is increased production of natural gas from shale deposits good for the environment? At first glance, yes: natural gas releases less CO2 into the atmosphere than coal, so replacing coal-fired electrical plants with gas-fired plants is a win for global warming. And since fracking makes natural gas cheaper, it helps stimulate a switch from coal to gas. But wait: It turns out you also have to account for leakage. The problem is that natural gas is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right, and when you extract natural gas from shale formations, some of it inevitably leaks out. That's decidedly bad for global warming. But David McCabe, an atmospheric scientist at the Clean Air Task Force, reports that the news is fairly good on this front: "From the best of the collective work, we believe that burning natural gas for electricity produces about 30-50 percent less greenhouse gas than burning coal, even accounting for the emissions of methane (and carbon dioxide) from producing and transporting the natural gas." Unfortunately, the story doesn't stop there, and it gets a lot grimmer as you dig deeper. The problem is simple: If you make something cheaper, people will use more of it. ...


Looks like we're frucked no matter what.

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Mon, Sep 3, 2012
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Romney To Focus On Fossil Fuels
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants to significantly boost U.S. fossil-fuel production while ending federal subsidies and loan guarantees for most forms of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power. Romney's energy plan, which the former Massachusetts governor outlined on Aug. 23, sets an ambitious goal for the U.S. of reaching energy independence by 2020 through increased production of oil, natural gas, and coal, accompanied by reduced regulation. The plan does not mention climate change. "Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet," Romney said at a campaign stop in New Mexico. "That's oil and gas and coal." ...


Also underneath our feet... our graves.

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Fri, Aug 31, 2012
from Chicago Tribune:
Closure of Chicago's Crawford, Fisk electric plants ends coal era
The Fisk power plant, in service since 1903, burned its final batch of coal Thursday while its sister plant Crawford shut down by Wednesday, ending Chicago's run as the only major U.S. city with two coal plants operating in its borders. Their closings, confirmed by owner Midwest Generation, eliminate Chicago's two biggest industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. At their peak the plants supplied power to roughly 1 million homes. ...


I'm already feeling nostalgic.

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Reuters:
Wal-Mart joins agriculture sustainability group
The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc has joined an alliance of other Fortune 500 companies, including Cargill and Kellogg Co, seeking to make agriculture more sustainable. The Field to Market alliance was started three years ago by the non-profit Keystone Center to improve agricultural productivity and reduce the use of natural resources. It includes farm groups, grain handlers and food makers but Wal-Mart is the first retailer in the group and now its largest member ... Wal-Mart is seeking to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. ...


Every little bit helps!

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Mon, Aug 27, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Shell seeks more time to drill exploratory well in Chukchi Sea
With its bid to launch offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean running up against a deadline to protect against sea ice, Shell Alaska has requested an extension in its window for drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of the Alaska venture, said Sunday that the company has proposed extending the time allowed for drilling in the Chukchi by slightly less than two weeks beyond the Sept. 24 deadline set by the U.S. Department of Interior to allow time for cleanup of any oil spill before the onset of winter sea ice. Meeting with reporters at an Arctic Imperative Summit here, Slaiby said the company's latest models for forecasting the onset of winter sea ice now show the first freeze-up occurring somewhat later than originally envisioned when federal officials imposed their initial deadline for ending operations in the Chukchi Sea. ...


When it comes to oil, hey we'll letcha slide!

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Mon, Aug 20, 2012
from ScienceAlert:
Drastic tactics to save oceans?
... "A much broader approach to marine management and mitigation options, including manipulating the environment around corals and considering the translocation of reef-building corals, must be evaluated," he said.... Marine conservation options may include: * Using shade to protect corals from the heat stress which leads to coral bleaching and death, albeit at small scales. * Actively assisting biological resilience and adaptation through spatial planning, protective culturing and possibly selective breeding * Maintain or manage ocean chemistry by adding globally abundant base minerals such as carbonates and silicates to the ocean to neutralize acidity, and improve conditions for shell formation in marine creatures * Convert CO2 from land-based waste into dissolved bicarbonates that could be added to the ocean to provide carbon sequestration and enhance alkalinity. ...


Marinengineering.

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Sun, Jul 29, 2012
from HuffingtonPost:
Koch-funded scientist Richard Muller: 'Humans Are Almost Entirely The Cause' Of Climate Change
"Humans are almost entirely the cause" of climate change, according to a scientist who once doubted that global warming even existed.... Muller wrote in an NYT op-ed that after exhaustive research, he believes that an increase of greenhouse gases can be closely linked to the rise in the earth's temperature.... Muller, a UCBerkeley professor, founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which receives substantial funding from GOP powerhouse donor Charles Koch. According to Greenpeace, the Koch brothers have given over $61 million to groups that deny the existence of climate change. ...


You'd think that $61,000,000 would buy a little more loyalty.

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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
U.S. issues fines, orders upgrades at coal-fired power plants
In the latest settlement targeting toxic emissions from power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department have issued a $950,000 fine and ordered millions in pollution control technology at three coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin. Plant operator Dairyland Power Cooperative will pay the civil penalty, invest $150 million in pollution control technology and spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects, the EPA said in a Clean Air Act pact announced June 29. "This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants,” Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement. ...


On behalf of The Downwind Coalition, I thank you.

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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from NOAA via ScienceDaily:
Back-To-Back La Ninas Cooled Globe and Influenced Extreme Weather in 2011
Worldwide, 2011 was the coolest year on record since 2008, yet temperatures remained above the 30 year average, according to the 2011 State of the Climate report released online today (July 10, 2012) by NOAA ... Two back-to-back La Ninas, each characterized by cooler-than-average water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, affected regional climates and influenced many of the world's significant weather events throughout the year. ...


Cormac McCarthy: You never know what worse luck your bad luck is saving you from.

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Tue, Jul 10, 2012
from London Guardian:
Canada's PM Stephen Harper faces revolt by scientists
Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, faces a widening revolt by the country's leading scientists against sweeping cuts to government research labs and broadly pro-industry policies. The scientists plan to march through Ottawa in white lab coats on Tuesday in the second big protest in a month against the Harper government's science and environmental agenda. Harper is accused of pushing through a slew of policies weakening or abolishing environmental protections -- with an aim of expanding development of natural resources such as the Alberta tar sands. ...


Scientists, marching? What's next, break dancing?

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Tue, Jul 3, 2012
from Yale Environment 300:
Oh Canada: The Government's Broad Assault on Environment
...Canada's pristine image -- and more importantly its environment -- is not likely to recover from what critics across the political spectrum say is an unprecedented assault by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on environmental regulation, oversight, and scientific research. Harper, who came to power in 2006 unapologetic for once describing the Kyoto climate accords as "essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations," has steadily been weakening environmental enforcement, monitoring, and research, while at the same time boosting controversial tar sands development, backing major pipeline construction, and increasing energy industry subsidies. ...


Copycat.

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Tue, Jul 3, 2012
from George Monbiot:
We were wrong about peak oil, but disaster looms anyway
Maugeri's analysis of projects in 23 countries suggests that global oil supplies are likely to rise by a net 17-million barrels per day (to 110-million) by 2020. This, he says, is "the largest potential addition to the world's oil supply capacity since the 1980s". The investments required to make this boom happen depend on a long-term price of $70 a barrel - the current cost of Brent crude is $95. Money is now flooding into new oil: a trillion dollars has been spent in the past two years; a record $600-billion is lined up for 2012.... So this is where we are. The automatic correction - resource depletion destroying the machine that was driving it - that many environmentalists foresaw is not going to happen. The problem we face is not that there is too little oil, but that there is too much.... Twenty years of efforts to prevent climate breakdown through moral persuasion have failed, with the collapse of the multilateral process at Rio de Janeiro last month. The world's most powerful nation is again becoming an oil state and if the political transformation of its northern neighbour is anything to go by, the results will not be pretty. ...


The natural world had its chance. It's our turn now.

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Sat, Jun 16, 2012
from RL Miller, via DailyKos:
2.7 × 10 to the -98th power
This May was, in fact, warmer than the 20th century average May. It was the second warmest on record, calculates the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And - this is the scary part - it was the 327th month in a row (over 27 years) that a month has been warmer than the same month in the 20th century average. The odds of that happening are 2 to the -327th power, or 2.73046341 x 10 to the -98th power. For a bit of context, there are roughly 5 x 10 to the 20th power stars in the universe. Or, for those of us mathematically-challenged folk, the odds of that happening are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LOW. But, hey, it's just a coincidence, right? It's not like fate, or human activity, or weather on steroids, has a hand in any of this, right? ...


Doesn't this prove that there's a statistically measurable likelihood that it's not our fault?

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Greenhouse gases largely to blame for warming oceans: scientists
A new US-led study, featuring research by Tasmanian scientists, has concluded that warming ocean temperatures over the past 50 years are largely a man-made phenomenon. Researchers from America, India, Japan and Australia say the study is the most comprehensive look at how the oceans have warmed. The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, examined a dozen different models used to project climate change, and compared them with observations of ocean warming over the past 50 years. It found natural variations accounted for about 10 per cent of rising temperatures, but man-made greenhouse gases were the major cause. ...


The warmer the ocean ... the hotter the babes!

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from Reuters, via Guardian:
Climate change rate could be faster than thought, study suggests
China's carbon emissions could be nearly 20 percent higher than previously thought, a new analysis of official Chinese data showed on Sunday, suggesting the pace of global climate change could be even faster than currently predicted. China has already overtaken the US as the world's top greenhouse gas polluter, producing about a quarter of mankind's carbon pollution that scientists say is heating the planet and triggering more extreme weather.... Scientists say the world is already racing towards a warming of 2 degrees Celsius or more in coming decades because of the rapid growth in emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Adding another billion tonnes into computer models would accelerate the pace of expected warming. ...


Faster than the extremely cautious scientific community predicted? How surprising.

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Thu, Jun 7, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
Environmental collapse now a serious threat: scientists
Climate change, population growth and environmental destruction could cause a collapse of the ecosystem just a few generations from now, scientists warned on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The paper by 22 top researchers said a "tipping point" by which the biosphere goes into swift and irreversible change, with potentially cataclysmic impacts for humans, could occur as early as this century. The warning contrasts with a mainstream view among scientists that environmental collapse would be gradual and take centuries. ...


These must be mainscream scientists.

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Mon, Jun 4, 2012
from Climate Central:
Geoengineered Sky: Bye-Bye Blue, Hello White
...an otherwise harmless side effect of one new geoengineering study might turn out to be deeply troubling. Geoengineering itself is a sort of Plan B, a way to fix global warming after the fact if we fail to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. One such scheme involves spewing particles of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to cut down on incoming sunlight -- and according to new paper in Geophysical Research Letters, that could make that canopy of deep blue a thing of the past. Instead, Ben Kravitz, of the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford and his colleagues say, the sky will become a washed-out white. ...


Can't we just paint the white sky blue?

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Thu, May 31, 2012
from NOAA, via Christian Science Monitor:
Arctic passes 400 parts per million milestone
Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn't quite a surprise, because it's been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.... Before the Industrial Age, levels were around 275 parts per million.... It's been at least 800,000 years -- probably more -- since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s, Butler and other climate scientists said. ...


Do they even have milestones on dead-end roads?

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Tue, May 15, 2012
from Globe and Mail:
Pushing carbon tax cost research agency its funding, Tories confirm
The federal government has confirmed what the rumour mill suspected: it shut down an arm's length, independent advisory group because it didn't like the advice it was getting on addressing climate change. Funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) was cut in the last budget, giving the group just one year to live. Since 1988, it has been producing research on how business and government policies can work together for sustainable development -- including the idea of introducing carbon taxes.... "It should agree with Canadians. It should agree with the government. No discussion of a carbon tax that would kill and hurt Canadian families." ...


"It shouldn't mix science with politics."

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Wed, Apr 4, 2012
from ClimateWire:
Dying corals -- milestones along a meandering path to famine
...Already, there is evidence that as the ocean warms, many commercial fish stocks are moving poleward in search of cooler waters. Rising ocean temperatures have triggered coral bleaching events that have caused widespread damage to the world's reefs, which serve as a habitat for many species.... Researchers are also concerned about the effects that shifting ocean chemistry will have on marine ecosystems. As the world's carbon dioxide output has risen, oceans have absorbed more and more of the heat-trapping gas, leaving seawater 30 percent more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolution began. Eventually, ocean acidification could scramble ocean ecosystems by making it harder for sea creatures like oysters, coral and plankton to grow the hard, chalky shells that protect them from predators. ...


No matter where those fish go we'll track em down!

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Sun, Apr 1, 2012
from AFP, via Yahoo:
2 degrees C warming target now 'out of reach' -- ex UN climate chief
The UN's former climate chief on Tuesday said the global warming pledge he helped set at the Copenhagen Summit little more than two years ago was already unattainable. "I think two degrees is out of reach," Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said on the sidelines of a conference here on June's Rio+20 summit.... "The two degrees is lost but that doesn't mean for me we should forget about it," de Boer said in the interview with AFP. "It is a very significant target, it's not just a target that was plucked out of the air, it refers to trying to limit a number of impacts."... On Sunday, 20 winners of the Blue Planet Prize, one of the world's most prestigious green awards, said there was only a "50-50" chance of limiting warming to 3 C (5.4 F). There were "serious risks" of a 5 C (9.0 F) rise, a temperature last seen on the planet 30 million years ago. ...


Those scientists -- they're always such extremists.

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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
from Washington Post:
EPA imposes first greenhouse gas limits on new power plants
The Environmental Protection Agency issued the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants Tuesday, but stopped short of imposing any restrictions on the nation's existing coal-fired fleet.... The rule, which comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year, dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls. ...


Po' widdle coal plants.

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Tue, Mar 27, 2012
from USA Today:
Study: Global temperatures could rise 5 degrees by 2050
As the USA simmers through its hottest March on record -- with more than 6,000 record high temperatures already set this month -- a new study released Sunday shows that average global temperatures could climb 2.5 to 5.4 degrees by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. The study findings are based on the results of 10,000 computer model simulations of future weather overseen by researchers at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. ...


Couldn't they have written Hamlet instead?

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from ClimateProgress:
James Hansen's Must-See TED Talk: Starting To Reduce CO2 In 10 Years Is Too Late
Favorite denier myths such as "it's the Sun" and "CO2 lags temperature" were addressed by Dr. Hansen and shown to be wrong or irrelevant. He also discussed how amplifying feedbacks in the past took small changes in temperature due to slight changes in the Earth's orbit and either initiated or ended ice ages. He then said these same amplifying feedbacks will occur today if we do not stop the warming. "The physics does not change." Besides the impacts that are already occurring, Dr. Hansen said that if we do not stop the warming, we should expect sea levels to rise this century by 1 to 5 meters (3 to 18 feet), extinction of 20 to 50 percent of species, and massive droughts later this century. He said that the recent Texas heat wave, Moscow's heat wave the year before, and the 2003 heat wave in Europe we "exceptional" events that now occur 25 to 50 times more often than just 50 years ago. Therefore, he concluded, we can say with high confidence that these heat waves were "caused" by global warming. A key solution to climate change, Dr. Hansen said, is to out a simple, honest price on carbon. He proposed a "Fee and Dividend" approach where an increasing fee on CO2 is paid by fossil fuel companies and 100 percent of the proceeds are distributed to every legal resident. Besides lowering carbon emissions, this will also stimulate innovation and create millions of jobs. ...


Benefiting everyone equally? That's not fair!

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Wed, Mar 14, 2012
from New York Times:
An Inconvenient Statement, Retracted
Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday walked away from his oft-quoted pre-Cabinet statement that the United States should deliberately raise gasoline prices to discourage consumption. In a 2008 interview with The Wall Street Journal before he was appointed President Obama's energy secretary, Dr. Chu, then the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of Europe." Dr. Chu, a winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, has spent much of his career seeking alternative forms of energy to try to mitigate the global warming effects of the burning of fossil fuels.... So in a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, Dr. Chu walked away from his earlier comment. "I no longer share that view," he said. "Of course we don't want the price of gasoline to go up. We want it to go down." ...


These are not the droids Chu is looking for.

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Tue, Mar 13, 2012
from PNAS, via Treehugger:
Tar Sands Industry Claims About Restoring Ecosystems Just Greenwashing, New Report Says
New research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has examined the impact of tar sands mining in Canada on boreal forest and peatlands, finding that contrary to industry claims that such landscape can be restored post-mining, full restoration is not possible. Furthermore, due to the fact that currently approved mines will cause the destruction of more than 29,500 hectares (114 square miles) of peatland, an additional 11.4-47.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions will be released by the mining. The destruction of the peat swamps will also remove carbon storage potential of up 7,200 metric tons per year, even after restoration is done. The release of these greenhouse gases has never previously been included in calculations of the life-cycle emissions of fuel produced from tar sands. ...


It's strangely as if we actually can't put Humpty together again.

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Thu, Feb 23, 2012
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Drexel engineers develop cement with 97 percent smaller carbon dioxide and energy footprint
Drexel University engineers have found a way to improve upon ordinary Portland cement (OPC), the glue that's bonded much of the world's construction since the late 1800s. In research recently published in Cement and Concrete Composites the group served up a recipe for cement that is more energy efficient and cost effective to produce than masonry's most prevalent bonding compound. Drexel's "green" variety is a form of alkali-activated cement that utilizes an industrial byproduct, called slag, and a common mineral, limestone, and does not require heating to produce. According to Dr. Michel W. Barsoum, A.W. Grosvenor professor in Drexel's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, this alternative production method and the ubiquity of the mix ingredients, lessens the cost of materials for Drexel's cement by about 40 percent versus Portland cement and reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide production by 97 percent. ...


Now that's a foundation to build upon!

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Mon, Feb 20, 2012
from Science News:
Carbon dioxide breaking down marine ecosystems
If carbon dioxide emissions don't begin to decline soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying -- and eventually unravel completely, two new studies conclude. The diversity of ocean species thins and any survivors' health declines as the pH of ocean water falls in response to rising carbon dioxide levels, scientists from England and Florida reported February 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. What's more, affected species aren't restricted to those with shells and calcified support structures... ...


CO2, an equal opportunity destroyer.

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Sun, Feb 12, 2012
from AFP:
2C warming goal now 'optimistic' - French scientists
French scientists unveiling new estimates for global warming said on Thursday the 2 C (3.6 F) goal enshrined by the United Nations was "the most optimistic" scenario left for greenhouse-gas emissions. The estimates, compiled by five scientific institutes, will be handed to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for consideration in its next big overview on global warming and its impacts. The report -- the fifth in the series -- will be published in three volumes, in September 2013, March 2014 and April 2014. The French team said that by 2100, warming over pre-industrial times would range from two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 5.0 C (9.0 F). The most pessimistic scenarios foresee warming of 3.5-5.0 C (6.3-9.0 F), the scientists said in a press release. Achieving 2C, "the most optimistic scenario," is possible but "only by applying climate policies to reduce greenhouse gases," they said. ...


D'ya feel optimistic, punk?

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Wed, Feb 8, 2012
from Bill McKibben, on TomDispatch:
The Great Carbon Bubble
Still, [the energy companies] could theoretically invest all that cash in new clean technology or research and development for the same. As it happens, though, they've got a deeper problem, one that's become clear only in the last few years. Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won't be burned if we ever take global warming seriously. When I talked about a carbon bubble at the beginning of this essay, this is what I meant. Here are some of the relevant numbers, courtesy of the Capital Institute: we're already seeing widespread climate disruption, but if we want to avoid utter, civilization-shaking disaster, many scientists have pointed to a two-degree rise in global temperatures as the most we could possibly deal with. If we spew 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere, we'll quite possibly go right past that reddest of red lines. But the oil companies, private and state-owned, have current reserves on the books equivalent to 2,795 gigatons -- five times more than we can ever safely burn. It has to stay in the ground. Put another way, in ecological terms it would be extremely prudent to write off $20 trillion worth of those reserves. In economic terms, of course, it would be a disaster, first and foremost for shareholders and executives of companies like ExxonMobil (and people in places like Venezuela). If you run an oil company, this sort of write-off is the disastrous future staring you in the face as soon as climate change is taken as seriously as it should be, and that's far scarier than drought and flood. It's why you'll do anything -- including fund an endless campaigns of lies -- to avoid coming to terms with its reality. ...


That's twenty trillion dollars of economic development!

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Tue, Jan 31, 2012
from ArsTechnica:
Ocean acidification already well beyond natural variability
Ocean acidification entails a decrease in the pH of ocean water as the carbonate that buffers it is consumed. That carbonate does more than just maintain pH, though. Lots of marine organisms, from plankton to mollusks to coral, use it to build shells and skeletons. As the buffer is depleted, the saturation state of carbonate minerals like calcite (and its polymorph aragonite) decreases, making it more difficult for organisms to incorporate them. In most areas of the surface ocean, calcite and aragonite are supersaturated, making it easy for organisms to build shells and skeletons. In undersaturated water, the equilibrium tilts the other way, and dissolution of these structures becomes possible.... In all areas where coral reefs are found (these are often described as the "rainforests of the sea" for their astonishing diversity and abundance of life), the researchers find that the current saturation state of aragonite is well below the pre-industrial average. To put it into concrete terms, they estimate that calcification rates of reef organisms have already dropped by about 15 percent. Under the A1B emissions scenario, calcification rates would decrease by a total of 40 percent (relative to pre-industrial) by 2100. ...


I'd have to accept this, were I to kowtow to the tyranny of facts.

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Tue, Jan 24, 2012
from London Daily Mail:
Livestock identified as having biggest impact on global warming - even more than usual suspect, carbon monoxide
Forget the toxic fume-spouting industries. Livestock - mainly cows and buffaloes - has been identified as one of the primary contributors of greenhouse gases in India by Brighter Green, a US-based public policy action tank. The animals play a major role in the emission of methane - a gas with a much more lethal impact on global warming than the usual suspect carbon dioxide. Livestock is known to release a huge amount of methane through belching and flatulence, though the latter accounts for a smaller quantity. ...


My old Ford SUV burps and farts: that must be really bad!

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Mon, Jan 16, 2012
from Bluefield Daily Telegraph:
Record coal load on its way to China from Virginia
Norfolk Southern Railway set a new record in terms of shipping coal tonnage by loading 159,941.45 net tons of metallurgical coal on an ocean-going vessel bound for China.... "This is a great indication of the shortage of met coal last year that forced the world to come to the U.S. buy the coal to meet their steel-making needs," Rick Taylor, president of the Pocahontas Coal Association said.... NS employees were able to load the record-breaking load on the 951-foot M/V Cape Dover in less than 48 hours. Pier 6 was added to the railroad's Norfolk load-out facility in 1962. Prior to the construction of the space shuttle launch tower, NS's Lambert's Point loaders were the largest pieces of moving machinery in the world. The total site encompasses 400 acres at the mouth of the Elizabeth River in Hampton Roads. In 2010, Pier 6 transloaded 16.7 million tons of coal. With both dumpers and both ship loaders working, Pier 6 can load about 8,000 tons of coal per hour. The pier is 1,850 feet long, according to information provided by NS. ...


The mountaintops are trembling.

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Thu, Jan 12, 2012
from Associated Press:
EPA: Power plants main global warming culprits
The most detailed data yet on emissions of heat-trapping gases show that U.S. power plants are responsible for the bulk of the pollution blamed for global warming. Power plants released 72 percent of the greenhouse gases reported to the Environmental Protection Agency for 2010, according to information released Wednesday that was the first catalog of global warming pollution by facility. The data include more than 6,700 of the largest industrial sources of greenhouse gases, or about 80 percent of total U.S. emissions. ...


If I be wicked, coal unto me...

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Wed, Jan 11, 2012
from New York Times:
A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn't Exist
When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law. But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist. ...


We'll laugh about this sort of thing ... in the post-Apocalypse.

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Tue, Jan 10, 2012
from Toronto Star:
Titanic clash looms over proposed Northern Gateway pipeline
A biologist, an energy lawyer and an aboriginal geologist will sit down Tuesday in a recreation centre in the wilderness of northern British Columbia to initiate what could be the fiercest environmental standoff ever seen in Canada. Before the hearings in B.C. and Alberta are completed next year, more than 4,000 people are expected to appear before the three-member panel vetting the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta through the Rockies to the B.C. coast. Like the now-stalled Keystone XL project in the United States, the planned pipeline to carry tarsands-derived crude oil across the mountains to a new supertanker port in northern B.C. is shaping up as a titanic clash of economic and environmental imperatives. ...


The other pipeline.

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Mon, Jan 9, 2012
from Wall Street Journal:
Taking Fears of Acid Oceans With a Grain of Salt
The Natural Resources Defense Council has called ocean acidification "the scariest environmental problem you've never heard of." Sigourney Weaver, who narrated a film about the issue, said that "the scientists are freaked out." The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls it global warming's "equally evil twin." But do the scientific data support such alarm? Last month scientists at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and other authors published a study showing how much the pH level (measuring alkalinity versus acidity) varies naturally between parts of the ocean and at different times of the day, month and year. "On both a monthly and annual scale, even the most stable open ocean sites see pH changes many times larger than the annual rate of acidification," say the authors of the study, adding that because good instruments to measure ocean pH have only recently been deployed, "this variation has been under-appreciated."... Off Papua New Guinea and the Italian island of Ischia, where natural carbon-dioxide bubbles from volcanic vents make the sea less alkaline, and off the Yucatan, where underwater springs make seawater actually acidic, studies have shown that at least some kinds of calcifiers still thrive--at least as far down as pH 7.8. ...


See? If the Wall Street Journal says so, then Adam Smith says so, too. Move along.

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Wed, Jan 4, 2012
from Canadian Press:
Keystone 'whistleblower' alleges shoddy materials along original pipeline
A former inspector for a company that did work on TransCanada's original Keystone pipeline is accusing the Calgary-based company of a cavalier disregard for the environment. Mike Klink was an engineer for construction company Bechtel Corp., a contractor that worked on the first portion of the Keystone pipeline that carries Alberta oilsands crude to refineries in the American Midwest. It was completed in 2010; the controversial Keystone XL would extend that pipeline to Gulf Coast refineries... Klink says he raised a series of concerns about alleged sub-standard materials and poor craftsmanship along the Keystone pipeline.... TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha disputed Klink's assertions, saying he "appears to have made a number of allegations against his previous employer and others, none of which have been proven." The Indiana man says he was fired by Bechtel as a result... ...


In opposition to Klink, TransCanada is tantamount to Sergeant Schultz crying "I know nothing... NOTHING!"

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Mon, Dec 26, 2011
from Oregon State University via ScienceDaily:
Forest Health Versus Global Warming: Fuel Reduction Likely to Increase Carbon Emissions
Forest thinning to help prevent or reduce severe wildfire will release more carbon to the atmosphere than any amount saved by successful fire prevention, a new study concludes. There may be valid reasons to thin forests -- such as restoration of forest structure or health, wildlife enhancement or public safety -- but increased carbon sequestration is not one of them, scientists say... even in fire-prone forests, it's necessary to treat about 10 locations to influence fire behavior in one. There are high carbon losses associated with fuel treatment and only modest savings in reducing the severity of fire... ...


We may be forced to thin the herd instead.

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Greenwire:
With federal green light, Shell hits the gas on Arctic plans
In a sign that the Obama administration is willing to clear the regulatory decks for oil drilling in Alaska's remote Arctic waters, the Interior Department on Friday gave a conditional green light allowing Royal Dutch Shell PLC to explore for oil this summer in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. More than 20 years after sinking its first exploratory well in the Chukchi, only to later abandon the project, Shell is seeking to reopen drilling in the nation's northern-most federal waters. The campaign has already had a colossal price tag. So far, Shell officials say they have sunk $4 billion in the project, including $350 million to build two of their own ice-breaking ships. If exploration is successful, it will take 10-12 years before Shell can begin producing oil. During that time, the company would have to build a new ice-resistant drilling facility, install 100 miles of subsea pipeline from the pumping rig to the tiny community of Wainwright and construct a 500-mile pipeline from the shoreline to the beginning of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. ...


It will be worth all the work, if we can indeed destroy the planet!

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Mon, Dec 19, 2011
from Associated Press:
Russia slams Kyoto Protocol
MOSCOW (AP) Russia supports Canada's decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, says its foreign ministry, reaffirming Friday that Moscow will not take on new commitments. Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Friday's briefing that the treaty does not cover all major polluters, and thus cannot help solve the climate crisis. Canada on Monday pulled out of the agreement -- initially adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, to cut carbon emissions contributing to global warming. Its move dealt a blow to the treaty, which has not been formally renounced by any other country. ...


Sayonara, Kyoto.

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Wed, Dec 14, 2011
from ClimateWire:
Scrubbing Carbon Dioxide from Air May Prove Too Costly
One of the seemingly ideal and direct solutions to climate change is to efficiently vacuum up greenhouse gases straight from the atmosphere. But a new study finds that such a proposal is very far-fetched and tremendously expensive... in a paper published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that trying to scrub the air is much more expensive than keeping it from getting dirty in the first place. ...


So what am I going to do with my zeppelin-sized scrub brush?

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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Vermont Law School's Top 10 Environmental Watch List for 2012
Vermont Law School, which has one of the top-ranked environmental law programs in the country, just released its second annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List of issues and developments that should be closely followed in 2012. Top of the list? Republican attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency. According to an innovative online database set up by L.A.'s own Rep. Henry Waxman, there have been 170 anti-environmental votes under the Republican majority in the 112th Congress, and 91 of them attacked the EPA. Other hot topics on the watch list include that same EPA and the White House clashing over ozone standards, the activist effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and landmark settlements under the Endangered Species Act. ...


Actually, top of the list: Republicans' farts; they're way worse than Democrats' farts.

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Sun, Dec 11, 2011
from Nature.com:
Acidic oceans threaten development in young fish
Ocean acidification -- caused by climate change -- looks likely to damage crucial fish stocks. Two studies published today in Nature Climate Change reveal that high carbon dioxide concentrations can cause death and organ damage in very young fish. The work challenges the belief that fish, unlike organisms with shells or exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate, will be safe as marine CO2 levels rise.... "These two studies are part of a growing trend that realizes that the broader effects of ocean acidification are much more than just calcification," says Donald Potts, a coral-reef biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. ...


Fish, it's time to team up with your mollusk buddies and brainstorm a solution!

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Fri, Dec 9, 2011
from Scientific American:
Climate Negotiations Fail to Keep Pace with Science
DURBAN, South Africa-- By 2020, human activity could produce some 55 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, up from roughly 36 billion metric tons currently. All the accumulating gas is enough to raise the global average temperatures by more than 3 degrees Celsius by century's end -- more than triple the amount of warming that has already occurred.... The latest science suggests that international negotiations are proceeding far too slowly to have any significant impact on global warming and may well dawdle too long to prevent catastrophic climate change. ...


Somebody wake me from this nightmare.

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011
from Reuters:
"Big Three" polluters oppose binding climate deal
The world's three biggest polluters China, the United States and India refused to move toward a new legal commitment to curb their carbon emissions Tuesday, increasing the risk that climate talks will fail to clinch a meaningful deal this week. The European Union is leading efforts to keep alive the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only legal pact to tackle climate change, with a conditional promise to sign a global deal that would force big emitters to change their ways. ...


Three biggest babies, more like.

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011
from Indiana Public Media:
Senator Lugar Introduces Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline
Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is leading a charge to push the construction of an oil pipeline through Congress. The North American Energy Security Act would force the Obama administration to issue a construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days of the bill's passage. Lugar says the pipeline, which would bring Canadian crude oil directly to gulf coast refineries, is a "shovel ready" jobs project that would also reduce America's dependence on foreign oil from the Middle East and Venezuela. ...


My shovel's ready to clean up oil spills.

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Wed, Dec 7, 2011
from E&E News/ClimateWire:
Green groups claim U.S. is blocking a climate change deal
Along the coast of the shark-infested Indian Ocean where the United Nations global warming negotiations are being held, the United States increasingly is being viewed as a pariah. Despite the presence of thousands of Obama supporters in this sub-tropical surf city, even liberal environmental activists at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference say disappointment and frustration toward the administration have reached new levels. The past several days of talks have seen the U.S. seemingly unwilling to discuss more ambitious ways to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. China, meanwhile, has softened its once hardline position, indicating it could be willing to make binding carbon cuts. As countries head into ministerial-level negotiations, the dynamic appears to have left the U.S. isolated and vulnerable to attack by disillusioned former friends. ...


Yes we ran.

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Mon, Dec 5, 2011
from New York Times:
Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery. Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003. The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades. ...


Another year, another record. I bet Nature's about ready to cry uncle!

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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from Associated Press:
World on track for nearly 11-degree temperature rise, energy expert says
The chief economist for the International Energy Agency said Monday that current global energy consumption levels put the Earth on a trajectory to warm by 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, an outcome he called "a catastrophe for all of us. Fatih Birol spoke as as delegates from nearly 200 countries convened the opening day of annual U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa. ...


Or, put another way, 6 degrees of separation between us -- and our continued existence.

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from New York Times:
Another Try for a Global Climate Effort
With intensifying climate disasters and global economic turmoil as the backdrop, delegates from 194 nations gather in Durban, South Africa, this week to try to advance, if only incrementally, the world's response to dangerous climate change. To those who have followed the negotiations of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change over their nearly 20-year history, the conflicts and controversies to be taken up in Durban are monotonously familiar -- the differing obligations of industrialized and developing nations, the question of who will pay to help poor nations adapt, the urgency of protecting tropical forests, the need to develop and deploy clean energy technology rapidly. ...


C'mon, folks, let's give it a shot. The planet's pretty important.

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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Bloomberg News:
Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall
Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks. Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass attracted $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the most recent data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind power led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal. "The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable," United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. "You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis." The findings indicate the world is shifting toward consuming more renewable energy even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gases. ...


Durban be damned; leaders be let go; renewables rule!

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Wed, Nov 23, 2011
from Yale360:
Majority in U.S. Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax, Survey Says
A majority of Americans across the political spectrum support policies that reduce carbon emissions, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax, according to a new survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. In a survey conducted between Oct. 20 and Nov. 6, 65 percent of respondents said they would support a revenue-neutral carbon tax to help "create jobs and decrease pollution" -- including 51 percent of those identifying themselves as Republicans, 69 percent of independents, and 77 percent of Democrats. Sixty percent said they would support a $10-per-ton carbon tax if the money was spent reducing federal income taxes. That support continued even when respondents were told the carbon tax would "slightly increase the cost of many things you buy, including food, clothing, and electricity." Support for the tax dipped to 49 percent if the revenue was instead returned to each family as an annual check, and to just 44 percent if it was spent paying down the national debt. Sixty-nine percent said they oppose federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, while 54 percent opposed ethanol subsidies. Since May, there has been a 9 percent decline among those expressing "strong support" for renewable energy research. ...


If that was true, surely the politicians would be responding.

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Tue, Nov 22, 2011
from Associated Press:
Greenhouse gases soar; scientists see little chance of arresting global warming this century
Heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are building up so high, so fast, that some scientists now think the world can no longer limit global warming to the level world leaders have agreed upon as safe. New figures from the U.N. weather agency Monday showed that the three biggest greenhouse gases not only reached record levels last year but were increasing at an ever-faster rate, despite efforts by many countries to reduce emissions. ...


This story brought to you by the Duh-partment of Duh.

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011
from London Guardian:
Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty until 2020
Governments of the world's richest countries have given up on forging a new treaty on climate change to take effect this decade, with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment through global warming. Ahead of critical talks starting next week, most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and that even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate it could not come into force until 2020. The eight-year delay is the worst contemplated by world governments during 20 years of tortuous negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions, and comes despite intensifying warnings from scientists and economists about the rapidly increasing dangers of putting off prompt action. ...


Given the lack of enthusiasm among our leaders, it's time to Occupy Mother Earth.

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Wed, Nov 16, 2011
from Live Science:
A Graying Population Reduces Global Warming
You can help the environment by getting old. A demographer has profiled the relationship between age and a person's carbon dioxide emissions, showing that after retirement age, our individual contributions to global warming decline. "We expect age structure in the longer term to reduce carbon dioxide emissions," said Emilio Zagheni, a research scientist with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, who conducted the study."This study is specifically for the United States, but the trend is expected to hold at the global level." ...


Dude, then I suggest we ALL retire, now.

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Tue, Nov 15, 2011
from The New Yorker:
Two Degrees of Disaster
According to the I.E.A., "The door to 2 degrees C is closing." The group warned that unless dramatic action is taken by 2017, so many additional billions of tons of emissions will effectively be "locked in" that a temperature increase exceeding two degrees will become inevitable.... In fact, many scientists have warned that holding the average global temperature increase to "only" two degrees Celsius is a bit like limiting yourself to "only" a few rounds of Russian roulette: unless you're uncommonly lucky, the result is not likely to be happy.... Meanwhile, even if it's only self-interest in the narrowest possible sense that moves people, global warming still ought to be high on almost everybody's list of concerns. Between here and 4 degrees C, or now and the 2070s, there are all sorts of potential calamities of which the punishing drought in Texas, the flooding in Thailand, and the famine that has recently killed tens of thousands of Somalis are just a foretaste. ...


Heck, we're almost reaching Kevin Bacon territory!

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Mon, Nov 14, 2011
from Springfield Republican:
Winter in Massachusetts undergoing redefinition due to warming climate
...Winter in Massachusetts is undergoing a redefinition due to a warming climate. Already, the mean temperature in Amherst in winter - for December, January and February - has risen about 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, according to a study by a University of New Hampshire researcher. And, average winter temperatures throughout Massachusetts may rise an additional 2 to 5 degrees by 2050 and 4 to 10 degrees by 2100 due to continued global warming, according to a new report prepared for the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. ...


Welcome to the great state of Messachusetts.

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Mon, Nov 14, 2011
from Guardian:
Is climate scepticism a largely Anglo-Saxon phenomenon?
During a trip to Italy earlier this year, I asked a local journalist whether climate sceptical views get much of an airing in the Italian media. My query was greeted with an air of slight bemusement, which was followed by a request for me to explain what I meant by the term "climate scepticism". Their facial reaction alone told me that this was something of an alien concept to them. It supported a hunch I have long believed to carry some substance: climate scepticism is a predominantly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon. Or, rather, it is a phenomenon that tends to get amplified to a much greater extent in the various English-language media outlets around the world - particularly, in the US, UK and Australia - than it does in other languages or countries. Until now, there has been very little beyond the anecdotal to support this theory. But the proposition is now on a firmer footing thanks to a new report published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, based at the University of Oxford, which firms up some related findings it published last year. ...


That just has to be wrong.

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Fri, Nov 11, 2011
from New York Times:
U.S. Delays Decision on Pipeline Until After Election
The Obama administration, under sharp pressure from officials in Nebraska and restive environmental activists, announced Thursday that it would review the route of the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, effectively delaying any decision about its fate until after the 2012 election. The State Department said in a statement that it was ordering a review of alternate routes to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which would have been put at risk by a rupture of the 1,700-mile pipeline carrying a heavy form of crude extracted from oil sands formations in Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast. ...


In this case, delay is progress.

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Wed, Nov 9, 2011
from Guardian:
World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns
The world is likely to build so many new fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure. Anything built from now on that produces carbon will continue to do so for decades to come, and this "lock-in" effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world's foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this infrastructure is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous. "The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, told the Guardian. "I am very worried - if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever." ...


Irreversible? What about magic, smartypants?

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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from Truthout:
Annie Leonard's The Story of Broke
...Wait a minute. Broke? I'm sending in my share of hard-earned cash every month and so are you! Now, what we've got to work with shrinks a lot thanks to corporate tax loopholes and unprecedented tax breaks for the richest 1 percent. But even after those, we've still got over a trillion dollars. So if we're broke, what's happening to all that money? I decided to look into it and it turns out this whole "broke" story hides a much bigger story -- a story of some really dumb choices being made for us -- but that actually work against us. The good news is that these are choices, and we can make different ones. ...


The revolution will be animated.

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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from Earth Policy Institute:
U.S. Carbon Emissions Down 7 Percent in Four Years: Even Bigger Drops Coming
Between 2007 and 2011, carbon emissions from coal use in the United States dropped 10 percent. During the same period, emissions from oil use dropped 11 percent. In contrast, carbon emissions from natural gas use increased by 6 percent. The net effect of these trends was that U.S. carbon emissions dropped 7 percent in four years. And this is only the beginning. The initial fall in coal and oil use was triggered by the economic downturn, but now powerful new forces are reducing the use of both... In August, the American Economic Review -- the country's most prestigious economics journal -- published an article that can only be described as an epitaph for the coal industry. The authors conclude that the economic damage caused by air pollutants from coal burning exceeds the value of the electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. Coal fails the cost-benefit analysis even before the costs of climate change are tallied. ...


RIP ... Rest In Pollution

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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from The Independent:
Hard-up UK puts climate change on back burner
Britain's carbon emissions grew faster than the economy last year for the first time since 1996, as a cash-strapped population relegated the environment down its league of concerns and spent more money keeping warm, according to a new report.... The rise in Britain's so-called carbon intensity increases the danger that the country will miss legally binding targets on reducing emissions, warns PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the consultancy behind the report. Furthermore, it found that Britain's rising carbon intensity is part of a worldwide trend which threatens to push global warming above a two-degree Celsius increase on pre-industrial levels. This is the temperature that the G8 group of leading economies has pledged not to breach in the hope of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.... Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, said: "When money is tight people's attention goes elsewhere and it becomes harder to implement high-cost, low-carbon technologies. "Many people have higher priorities than climate change right now, it is probably fair to say. Maybe people are taking their eye off the ball a bit." ...


Your money or your future. D'you feel lucky, punk?

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Sat, Nov 5, 2011
from AP, via LA Times:
Biggest-ever jump seen in global warming gases
The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped last year by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming. The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. "The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing," said John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. The world pumped about 564 million more tons of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries -- China, the United States and India, the world's top producers of greenhouse gases. It is a "monster" increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past. ...


Is that a cliff we're speeding toward, or is it just a wall?

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Thu, Oct 27, 2011
from Oregon State University via ScienceDaily:
Production of Biofuel from Forests Will Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Study Finds
The largest and most comprehensive study yet done on the effect of biofuel production from West Coast forests has concluded that an emphasis on bioenergy would increase carbon dioxide emissions from these forests at least 14 percent, if the efficiency of such operations is optimal. The findings are contrary to assumptions and some previous studies that suggest biofuels from this source would be carbon-neutral or even reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this research, that wasn't true in any scenario. ...


Fueled again!

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Fri, Oct 14, 2011
from New Scientist:
The real Greek tragedy may be the climate
GREECE is going to default, one way or another, that much is clear. The bigger question is whether it will also leave the euro and what that would mean. What is so far underappreciated is that a Greek exit would have appalling consequences for the climate.... The climate always takes a back seat when economies turn sour, but the impact of a euro break-up would be profound. Any country leaving the euro would also breach the treaties of Maastricht, Lisbon and Rome, and therefore be forced to leave the EU. A euro break-up is likely to shatter the EU, and with it the hard won architecture of climate policy. For a start, the Emissions Trading System would be unlikely to survive.... There is much more riding on the outcome of the Greek crisis than the future of Europe or even the world economy. The danger is that a euro collapse could destroy the capital and institutions needed to combat climate change. It is bitterly ironic that the meltdown of a minor economy that has little to sell but sunshine could condemn the planet to uncontrollable global warming. ...


The irony fist of the marketplace.

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Thu, Oct 13, 2011
from London Independent:
Exclusive: BP to risk worst ever oil spill in Shetlands drilling
BP is making contingency plans to fight the largest oil spill in history, as it prepares to drill more than 4,000 feet down in the Atlantic in wildlife-rich British waters off the Shetland Islands. Internal company documents seen by The Independent show that the worst-case scenario for a spill from its North Uist exploratory well, to be sunk next year, would involve a leak of 75,000 barrels a day for 140 days -- a total of 10.5 million barrels of oil, comfortably the world's biggest pollution disaster. ...


How refreshing to have a clear sense of what could go wrong!

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Mon, Oct 3, 2011
from USGS, via PhysOrg:
Earth is having a bad acid trip, study finds
Earth may be overdosing on acid - not the "turn on, tune in, drop out" kind, but the "kill fish, kill coral, kill crops" kind. And it's shaping up to be a very bad trip. The problem isn't just acid rain or ocean acidification, either: pH levels are plummeting all over the planet, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Virginia. The origin of all this acidity, the researchers report, is humanity's growing use of natural resources such as coal, metal ores and nitrogen. Scientists have long known that certain chemicals can acidify soil and water when released en masse into the environment; sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides contribute to acid rain, for example, while carbon dioxide is widely blamed for causing ocean acidification. In their new study, though, the USGS and UVA researchers report that a worldwide acid wash is now being fueled by a variety of human activities, namely "the mining and burning of coal, the mining and smelting of metal ores, and the use of nitrogen fertilizer." This is dramatically reducing pH levels not just in soil and seawater, they report, but also in streams, rivers, lakes and even the air. ...


Maybe that explains my flashforwards.

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Wired:
Cars don't waste fuel. Drivers waste fuel
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) are developing a new way of boosting fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent without changing a car's powertrain at all. Their secret? Finding ways to change our behavior so we're more attuned to maximizing their mileage while behind the wheel... the researchers at CERT have to find the best way to change driver behavior. That means creating a system that immediately emphasizes the benefits of efficient driving without creating a needless distraction or aggravation. ...


By any and all means, let's hold on to our cars until the bitter dead end.

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Al Gore is back
He has shared the Nobel Prize, won an Emmy, was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, served as vice president and took the popular vote for the presidency. Few can point to so many achievements as Al Gore, yet few have fallen so flatly with the public they strive to inspire. Five years after An Inconvenient Truth hit the big screen, Gore is back trying to whip up public awareness on climate change with a revised version of his now-famous slide show... some media observers say, is that Al Gore has become the brand: No one else with anything approaching his stature has taken up the climate cause, yet his personality is wooden and his style didactic. ...


Still, he'll be more than a mere tasty morsel in the post-Apocalypse.

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Wed, Sep 7, 2011
from The Ecologist:
China exports its environmental problems as consumer culture booms
Despite its well publicised investment in green technology, China today has an unenviable list of ecological problems; its reliance on coal has left it with 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world; the north of the country is prone to frequent water shortages which have created hundreds of thousands of "environmental refugees"; and the dumping of chemicals into the Yangtze and other rivers means half the Chinese population drink water contaminated with human and animal excrement. In a new book, 'As China Goes, So Goes the World', Oxford professor Karl Gerth, claims that many of these problems have been directly caused by China's move towards a more consumerist society. ...


Consumers consume. That's what we do.

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Sat, Sep 3, 2011
from Bloomberg:
London Olympics Drops Carbon-Offset Plan
Organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games dropped a plan to cut carbon emissions during the sporting showcase, abandoning a pledge made when it defeated eight other cities to host the event. Games administrators will "no longer pursue formal offsetting procedures" to mitigate Olympics-related emissions, documents posted on the London Olympics website said. ... Scrapping the plan, which would have involved offsetting the emissions generated by the Games by investing in clean- energy projects in poor countries, underlines how carbon-saving measures are being overlooked to save money as the U.K. cuts spending and increases taxes amid an economic slowdown. By ditching the program, LOCOG may avoid spending as much as 2.7 million pounds ($4.4 million), according to prices quoted by brokers MF Global. ...


They win the charcoal medal.

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Tue, Aug 30, 2011
from Desmogblog:
Infographic Shows how Keystone Pipelines are 'Built to Spill'
Since commencing operation in June of 2010, the Keystone I pipeline has suffered more spills than any other 1st year pipeline in U.S. history. In addition to a nasty spill record, the proposed Keystone XL will cross one of the largest aquifers in the world - the Ogallala - which supplies drinking water to millions and provides 30 percent of the nation's groundwater used for irrigation. Pipeline construction will also disrupt 20,782 acres, including 11,485 acres of native and modified grassland, rangeland and pastureland, and pipeline construction will threaten sensitive wildlife and aquatic species habitats. According to the EPA, carbon emissions from tar sands crude are approximately 82 percent higher than the average crude refined in the U.S. Given the extremely toxic nature of tar sands bitumen and the fact that Keystone is TransCanada's first wholly owned pipeline in the U.S., it seems reasonable to look to TransCanada's performance with Keystone I for clues on how it would manage Keystone XL. And the clues are telling. ...


I'm confident they'll self-regulate!

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Thu, Aug 25, 2011
from Reuters:
Romney says he would not put limits on emissions
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in danger of losing his 2012 Republican primary front-runner status, on Wednesday he would not place restrictions on carbon emissions if elected. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, also said he does not know if human activity is the primary cause of climate change and does not favor spending heavily on climate solutions.... "Do I think the world's getting hotter? Yeah, I don't know that but I think that it is," he said. "I don't know if it's mostly caused by humans." "What I'm not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to." ...


Crazy idea: get experts in the field to tell you the answer!

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Huffington Post:
"Politics cannot deliver on what science requires": SA Foreign Minister
South Africa's foreign minister said Monday she is hoping for compromise but expects only incremental progress in climate change talks she's hosting, further lowering hopes the Durban meeting will produce a dramatic agreement to stop global warming. There are fears that "politics cannot deliver on what science requires," Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told South African business leaders in a speech Monday. She was speaking three months before talks in Durban that follow a failed round in Copenhagen in 2009 that undermined confidence the world could produce a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto provisions capping greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries expire in 2012.... "I will need to find compromises that will protect the integrity of the process," Nkoana-Mashabane said.... The U.S., a key player, has already said it does not expect this year's climate change conference to yield a binding international agreement. ...


Lowered expectations cannot deliver on what reality requires.

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from New York Times:
Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers
This page opposes the building of a 1,700-mile pipeline called the Keystone XL, which would carry diluted bitumen -- an acidic crude oil -- from Canada's Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast. We have two main concerns: the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does. The Canadian government insists that it has found ways to reduce those emissions. But a new report from Canada's environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods. It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest -- a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution. One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020... ...


Sometimes it seems as if we want to destroy our world.

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Sat, Aug 20, 2011
from Guardian:
China to cap energy use in national low-carbon plan
A cap on energy consumption is expected to be at the heart of a Chinese low-carbon plan to be issued this year, experts believe, amid reports that officials have now agreed its level. China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, making up a quarter of the global total. Experts say setting an energy limit would add certainty to the country's attempts to rein in emissions and should make it easier for emissions trading schemes to get off the ground. The cap has been anticipated for some time but is now thought likely to emerge in the low-carbon plan understood to have been broadly approved by a panel set up by the state council, China's cabinet, and chaired by the premier, Wen Jiabao. It should be formally passed later this year. Reuters reported that officials have settled on a total energy cap of 4.1bn tonnes of coal equivalent (TCE) by 2015 - a level more than 25 percent higher than last year. Analysts warn that the plan has yet to be nailed down and that a cap could still be delayed by disagreements, to re-emerge in a later policy document. ...


My cap is saying "Andale!"

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Tue, Aug 16, 2011
from Bloomberg:
EPA's Outdated Tests Leave American Cars Guzzling Gas: View
At issue is how federal regulators calculate each automaker's Corporate Average Fuel Economy. Obscure as these CAFE ratings may be, their public policy impact is vast. Whenever the U.S. government tells automakers to boost their CAFE scores -- as it did this summer -- it transforms the next generation of cars Americans drive. The trouble is, the tests used to gauge fuel efficiency don't reflect the way we actually drive, especially on the highway. The government's highway test involves a top speed of 60 mph, an average speed of 48.3 mph, no use of heaters or air conditioners and an achingly slow initial acceleration in which it takes more than a minute to go from zero to 50 mph.... It would be one thing if this exercise in pokey driving produced equally distorted scores for all models. But the outmoded CAFE process risks short-changing cars with smart fuel- saving features in favor of others that are engineered for the test.... Under the current tests, the stated goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025 is a number that will be achieved only on paper, car experts say. In practical terms, hitting the CAFE target is likely to produce a more modest 40 mpg to 42 mpg in real-life driving, analysts say. ...


These are the consequences of the No Automobile Left Behind Act.

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Thu, Aug 4, 2011
from Technology Review:
New Process Could Make Canadian Oil Cheaper, Cleaner
New technology for extracting oil from oil sands could more than double the amount of oil that can be extracted from these abundant deposits. It could also reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the process by up to 85 percent. The technology was developed by N-Solv, an Alberta-based consortium that recently received $10 million from the Canadian government to develop the technology.... The idea of using solvents to get at oil sands was proposed in the 1970s, but early experiments showed that the process couldn't produce oil quickly enough. Two things changed that, according to N-Solv. First, horizontal drilling technologies now make it possible to run a solvent injection well along the length of an oil sands deposit, increasing the area in contact with the solvent, thus increasing production. Second, N-Solv determined that even small amounts of methane--a by-product of using a solvent--could contaminate the propane and degrade its performance. So N-Solv introduced purification equipment to separate methane from the propane before it is reused. The separated methane can also be used to heat the propane, further reducing energy costs. N-Solv's process requires less energy because it uses a solvent rather than steam to free the oil, says Murray Smith, a member of N-Solv's board of directors. The solvent, such as propane, is heated to a relatively low temperature (about 50 deg C) and injected into a bitumen deposit. The solvent breaks down the bitumen, allowing it to be pumped out along with the propane, which can be reused. The solvent approach requires less energy than heating, pumping, and recycling water for steam. And because the heaviest components of the bitumen remain underground, the oil that results from the solvent process needs to be refined less before it can be transported in a pipeline. ...


Is cognitive dissonance is the sound of three hands clapping?

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Thu, Jul 21, 2011
from National Geographic News:
Longest Polar Bear Swim Recorded--426 Miles Straight
A female polar bear swam for a record-breaking nine days straight, traversing 426 miles (687 kilometers) of water -- equivalent to the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston, a new study says. The predator made her epic journey in the Beaufort Sea..., where sea ice is shrinking due to global warming, forcing mother bears to swim greater and greater distances to reach land -- to the peril of their cubs. The cub of the record-setting bear, for instance, died at some point between starting the swim and when the researchers next observed the mother on land. She also lost 22 percent of her body weight. ...


You go, girl!

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Thu, Jul 21, 2011
from Reuters:
Ohio leads list of top 20 states with toxic air
People living in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are most at risk in the United States from toxic emissions spewing from coal and oil-fired power plants, two leading American enviromental groups said in a report on Wednesday. Electricity generation and chemical processing were the top culprits for dangerous emissions, which can lead to or worsen ailments such as asthma and cancer, according to the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility... "Power plants are the biggest industrial toxic air polluters in our country, putting children and families at risk by dumping deadly and dangerous poisons into the air we breathe," said Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council...The findings underline the need for strong action by the Environmental Protection Agency to spur industry to clean up the emissions, Lashof said. ...


Or, we can just consider this outrage as acceptable casualties.

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Wed, Jul 20, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Act now on climate, no need to wait: top UN scientist
The key facts on global warming are already known and leaders should not wait for the next edition of the UN climate panel's report to step up action, the body's top scientist told AFP. The 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released in 2007, "is very clear," Rajendra Pachauri said Monday in Paris, ahead of a five-day meeting of the body in Brest, France. The fifth multi-volume assessment, which summarizes peer-reviewed science to help policy makers make decisions, is due out in 2013-2014. "We have enough evidence, enough scientific findings which should convince people that action has to be taken," he said after a round-table discussion with France's environment minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. ...


I don't know how you can have "a round-table discussion" with just two people!

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Meat Eater's Guide ranks foods by environmental, health effects
Lamb, beef and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases of 20 popular meat, fish, dairy and vegetable proteins, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group. The Meat Eater's Guide, released by the Washington-based environmental research firm, used a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment to determine each food's rank, including the amount of fertilizer used to grow animal feed, as well as data on each food's processing, transportation and disposal... The guide considers the effects of meat, fish, dairy and vegetable consumption on the environment and the climate, as well as human health and animal welfare. Ruminant livestock, such as sheep and cows, "release substantial amounts of methane," a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, according to the guide. In the U.S., 149 million acres of cropland, 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer are used just to grow livestock feed; U.S. livestock generate around 500 million tons of manure annually, which contributes to groundwater and air pollution, the guide said. ...


This heartburn is breaking my heart.

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from CNN:
Study: Changes to ocean expected to damage shellfish around world
Massive global greenhouse gas pollution is changing the chemistry of the world's oceans so much that scientists now predict it could severely damage shellfish populations and the nations that depend on the harvests if significant action isn't taken. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts shows that ocean acidification is becoming a very serious problem. The study was published in July online in the journal Fish and Fisheries....Ocean acidification, or the changing chemical make-up of seawater, has occurred since the industrial revolution as ocean waters absorbed too much carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of human industrial activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels. The Woods Hole study found that many marine animals like mollusks and corals that build hard shells and skeletons are most at risk from this. ...


Seems the shelflife of shellfish is deteriorating.

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Pa. wind turbines deadly to bats, costly to farmers
...The 420 wind turbines now in use across Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year -- mostly in the late summer months, according to the state Game Commission. That's an average of 25 bats per turbine per year, and the Nature Conservancy predicts as many as 2,900 turbines will be set up across the state by 2030... Bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers are left with the bill for more pesticide and crops...If one turbine kills 25 bats in a year, that means one turbine accounted for about 17 million uneaten bugs in 2010. ...


Do THIS math: If I don't have electricity I don't have TV!

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Sat, Jul 16, 2011
from New York Times:
House Republicans Accuse EPA, Enviros of Collusion
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) believes that U.S. EPA has worked out a nifty way to make an end run around both Congress and the federal regulatory process when it wants to implement a new rule that may be politically sensitive. All the agency has to do is get some green group to sue over some aspect of the desired rule, he said. Then EPA can roll over in the ensuing legal battle and head right to settlement proceedings, claiming it was "forced" by the court system and consent decrees to initiate the new rulemaking. It is a path devoid of both messy public comment periods and political accusations over whether EPA is moving unilaterally. And if that wasn't enough, the group that sues EPA can even get its legal expenses covered for its trouble, Whitfield said. ...


Those evildoers... Sounds like they're trying save the planet, dammit!

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Fri, Jul 15, 2011
from Reuters:
As CO2 levels rise, land becomes less able to absorb CO2
Scientists say land ecosystems are an essential brake on the pace of climate change because plants soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow. This also boosts the level of carbon in soils. But in a study published in the British journal Nature on Thursday, scientists say rising levels of planet-warming CO2 will trigger an increased release of two other far more potent greenhouse gases from soils, rice paddies and wetlands. "Our results suggest that the capacity of land ecosystems to slow climate warming has been overstated," the authors, led by Kees Jan van Groenigen of Northern Arizona University in the United States, conclude.... But rising levels of nitrous oxide and methane offsets some of the benefit. Van Groenigen and colleagues calculated that a surge in the release of greenhouse gases from soils would negate at least 16.6 percent of the previously estimated climate change fighting potential of increased carbon storage in the landscape. This means the pace of global warming could in fact be faster than previously thought and that complex computer models that scientists use to project the impacts of climate change would need to be adjusted, van Groenigen told Reuters. ...


More is less.

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Economists find flaws in federal estimate of climate damage
Uncle Sam's estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide is fundamentally flawed and "grossly understates" the potential impacts of climate change, according to an analysis released Tuesday by a group of economists. The study found the true cost of those emissions to be far beyond the $21 per ton derived by the federal government. The figure, commonly known as the "social cost of carbon," is used by federal agencies when weighing the costs and benefits of emissions-cutting regulations, such as air conditioner efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for light trucks. A truer value, according to the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an organization of economists who advocate for environmental protection, could be as high as $900 per ton - equivalent to adding $9 to each gallon of gas. Viewed another way, with the United States emitting the equivalent of close to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the higher figure suggests that avoiding those emissions could save the nation $5.3 trillion annually, one-third of the nation's economic output. ...


Uncle Sam is sure a funny uncle.

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Mon, Jul 11, 2011
from University of Wisconsin, via EurekAlert:
Climate change reducing ocean's carbon dioxide uptake
How deep is the ocean's capacity to buffer against climate change? As one of the planet's largest single carbon absorbers, the ocean takes up roughly one-third of all human carbon emissions, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its associated global changes.... "The ocean is taking up less carbon because of the warming caused by the carbon in the atmosphere," says McKinley, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a member of the Center for Climatic Research in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.... But the researchers found that rising temperatures are slowing the carbon absorption across a large portion of the subtropical North Atlantic. Warmer water cannot hold as much carbon dioxide, so the ocean's carbon capacity is decreasing as it warms. ...


The oceans are gettin' lazy!

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Tue, Jul 5, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Going beyond the IPCC 'worst case'
In order to see how climate models react over a wide range of greenhouse gas concentrations, researchers in the US have modelled emissions scenarios that are significantly higher than the IPCC's "worst case" scenarios. They found - perhaps unsurprisingly - that the extent of climate change will be significantly worse than for the IPCC's A1FI scenario. "Relative to the A1FI scenario, our highest scenario results in an additional 2 deg C (3.6F) of global mean warming above A1FI levels by 2100, a complete loss of Arctic summer sea ice by 2070 and an additional 43 percent sea level rise due to thermal expansion above A1FI levels by 2100," said Ben Sanderson from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US.... The team also assumed that the shares of primary energy derived from different fuel sources remain fixed over time at 2000 levels; that is, the carbon intensity of energy supply is assumed to remain constant. In the second scenario (AllCoal), the researchers make more extreme assumptions. They maintain the A1FI per capita energy projection, but assume population follows the UN high scenario as implemented in the IPCC A2 scenario, reaching 15 billion by 2100. They also make the bounding assumption that all new demand for primary energy is satisfied by coal. "This assumption is not intended to represent a plausible future, but a useful thought experiment that could help inform the exploration of upper bounds on emissions," said Sanderson. "It is astounding, for example, that this combination of assumptions leads to emissions in 2100 that are about four times those in the A1FI scenario, or about 105 gigatonnes of carbon per year." ...


"Astounding" only if you believe in common sense directing the actions of societies.

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Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from SolveClimate:
U.S. Climate Protests Shift to Blocking Keystone XL Pipeline Approval
Climate activists don't have much to rally around now that Congress is shunning global warming legislation. Energy legislation is stalled and stymied in a Senate where a Democratic caucus has a slim 53-47 advantage. And a GOP majority in the House is unveiling any and every tactic to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to deploy the Clean Air Act. McKibben and his allies figure the $7 billion Keystone XL -- which was barely on their environmental radar screen a year ago -- could be a galvanizer because the 1,702-mile underground pipeline would be a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." "If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over," Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist, explained about reclaiming a stable climate. "The principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground."... "We don't expect or demand miracles out of politicians. That's not part of the contract," he continued. "But once in a while they get to make a straight-up decision and Keystone XL is one of those. This one is more like tee ball. It's sitting on the stand and Obama can choose to hit it or not."... "Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn't worked," states the letter he co-authored. "Maybe moral witness will help." One prerequisite is that the demonstrators ditch Birkenstocks, torn jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts for button-down, business attire. "We need to be able to get across to people who the conservatives are and who the radicals are," McKibben said. "People need to understand how radical it is to change the composition of the atmosphere."... "It's incumbent on those who have spent our whole lives spewing carbon into the atmosphere to do something about it," McKibben concluded. "Most had interesting first acts in their lives that involved the civil rights and anti-war movements. That was before becoming preoccupied with other activities, mainly consuming things. ...


You're asking me to confirm that a ten-year or twenty-year time horizon is more important than a next-quarter horizon. How crazy is that?

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Sat, Jun 25, 2011
from SightlineDaily:
Trouble on the Half Shell
Four summers ago, Sue Cudd couldn't keep a baby oyster alive. She'd start with hundreds of millions of oyster larvae in the tanks at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts, Oregon. Only a handful would make it.... A hatchery that has supplied seafood businesses for three decades had virtually nothing to sell for months, said Cudd, who owns the hatchery. "They would just sort of fade away... It was really devastating. We're kind of the independent growers' hatchery, and we had always been reliable up until that point. People were just shocked. I heard a lot of times how it was ruining people's businesses." It's tough to say with scientific certainty that ocean acidification is the sole cause of the die-offs that have plagued two of the Northwest's three major oyster hatcheries in the last few years. But this much seems clear: young oysters have a hard time surviving in conditions that will only become more widespread as carbon dioxide from cars, coal plants and other industries cause the fundamental chemistry of the ocean to become more acidic. ...


Thankfully, there's news about the Royal Couple I can focus on!

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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, David Suzuki, Wendell Barry, and others, in CommonDreams:
Environmental Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.... These corporations want to build the so-called 'Keystone XL Pipeline' from Canada's tar sands to Texas refineries. To call this project a horror is serious understatement.... But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous. How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million. Even with the new pipeline they won't be able to burn that much overnight--but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out. As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate "the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground." In other words, he added, "if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over." ...


Let us lay waste to civilization, or we won't let you get re-elected.

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Wed, Jun 22, 2011
from Al Gore, in Rolling Stone:
Climate of Denial: Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?
Maybe it's just easier, psychologically, to swallow the lie that these scientists who devote their lives to their work are actually greedy deceivers and left-wing extremists -- and that we should instead put our faith in the pseudoscientists financed by large carbon polluters whose business plans depend on their continued use of the atmospheric commons as a place to dump their gaseous, heat-trapping waste without limit or constraint, free of charge. The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now! ... Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer...? The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics. ...


That guy is so inconvenient.

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Mon, Jun 20, 2011
from RealClimate:
What if the Sun went into a new Grand Minimum?
An analysis of historic sunspot observations shows that the 11-year solar activity cycle was interrupted during the late 17th century. This period of time, during which the Sun appeared without sunspots most of the time, was called the Maunder Minimum by Jack Eddy in his famous Science paper.... The Maunder Minimum falls within the climatically cooler period of the "Little Ice Age", during which temperatures were particularly low over continents in the Northern hemisphere (especially in winter). It has long been suspected that the low solar activity during the Maunder Minimum was one of the causes of the Little Ice Age, although other factors like a small drop in greenhouse gas concentrations around 1600 and strong volcanic eruptions during that time likely played a role as well.... According to these results, a 21st-century Maunder Minimum would only slightly diminish future warming. Moreover, it would be only a temporary effect since all known grand solar minima have only lasted for a few decades.... However, our model reproduces the historic Maunder minimum with these estimates of solar irradiance. Furthermore, even if one multiplied the solar effects by a huge factor of 5 (which is unrealistic), no absolute cooling would take place (the temperatures would be temporarily cooler than the base scenario, but the trends would still be warming). It is clear that if a grand minimum were to happen it would be a tremendously exciting opportunity for solar physicists, however it is unlikely to be very exciting for anyone else. ...


I was so counting on a solus ex machina.

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Thu, Jun 16, 2011
from Reuters:
IEA: Nuclear retreat to increase CO2 growth 30 percent
A halving of a global nuclear power expansion after Japan's Fukushima disaster would increase global growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent through 2035, the IEA said on Wednesday. The International Energy Agency warned last month that a political goal to limit climate change to safer levels was barely achievable after global emissions rose by near 6 percent in 2010.... A halving of nuclear power growth would make the task even more difficult, said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol. "We believe this huge emissions increase plus the rather bleaker perspective for nuclear power put together make the 2 degrees target very, very difficult to achieve." ...


Some days it almost seems as if we've hit the limits to endless growth. Crazy, hunh?

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from Guardian:
Leaked Documents: IPCC asks scientists to assess geo-engineering climate solutions
Lighter-coloured crops, aerosols in the stratosphere and iron filings in the ocean are among the measures being considered by leading scientists for "geo-engineering" the Earth's climate, leaked documents from the UN climate science body show. In a move that suggests the UN and rich countries are despairing of reaching agreement by consensus at global climate talks, the US, British and other western scientists will outline a series of ideas to manipulate the world's climate to reduce carbon emissions. But they accept that even though the ideas could theoretically work, they might equally have unintended and even irreversible consequences. The papers, leaked from inside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ahead of a geo-engineering expert group meeting in Lima in Peru next week, show that around 60 scientists will propose or try to assess a range of radical measures.... "Asking a group of geo-engineering scientists if more research should be done is like asking bears if they would like honey," said the letter, signed by groups including Friends of the Earth International, Via Campesina and ETC.... "We are putting ourselves in a scenario where we will have to develop more powerful technologies to capture emissions out of the atmosphere", she said. "We are getting into very risky territory." ...


I do believe in tech. I do believe in tech. I do I do I do....

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Cows are having fewer calves because of climate change
Warmer springs are encouraging cows to breed earlier in the year so their calves are born in the middle of winter, when they have less chance of survival The changes have been observed in a herd of cattle in Chillingham, Northumberland, which were first studied by Charles Darwin, the biologist. Dr Sarah Burthe, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, studied the change in breeding patterns over the last 60 years. She said: "Winter-born calves don't do very well and are more likely to die before they reach the age of one. This suggests that the cattle are responding to climate change but this is having a negative impact on them." ...


No worries; we can always clone 'em!

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from Reuters:
U.S. EPA delays rollout of CO2 rule on power plants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from Republicans and big utilities, said on Monday it had extended a deadline by two months on draft rules that would for the first time limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA said it had moved the date for proposing the rule from July 26 to Sept. 30 after listening to businesses and states that will have to implement the regulation. The rule, known as a performance standard, would limit the amount of carbon dioxide that U.S. power plants may emit. ...


Sounds like the EPA is having performance anxiety.

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Sun, Jun 12, 2011
from Guardian:
Explosion in jellyfish numbers may lead to ecological disaster, warn scientists
Global warming has long been blamed for the huge rise in the world's jellyfish population. But new research suggests that they, in turn, may be worsening the problem by producing more carbon than the oceans can cope with.... The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while bacteria are capable of absorbing the constituent carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemicals given off by most fish when they die, they cannot do the same with jellyfish. The invertebrates, populating the seas in ever-increasing numbers, break down into biomass with especially high levels of carbon, which the bacteria cannot absorb well. Instead of using it to grow, the bacteria breathe it out as carbon dioxide. This means more of the gas is released into the atmosphere.... Condon's research also found that the spike in jellyfish numbers is also turning the marine food cycle on its head. The creatures devour huge quantities of plankton, thus depriving small fish of the food they need. "This restricts the transfer of energy up the food chain because jellyfish are not readily consumed by other predators," said Condon. ...


There's a Nobel for whoever figures out how to turn jellyfish into oil.

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Former Interior secretary calls out Obama on the environment
President Obama has failed to answer Republican attacks on environmental safeguards "forcefully and persuasively" and to articulate his own vision for conserving American wilderness and water, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt charged Tuesday. Babbitt, who served under President Clinton, said in an interview that he would lay out his concerns about the Republican environmental agenda and the Obama administration's response in a speech in Washington on Wednesday. ...


Babbitt, Run

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Tue, Jun 7, 2011
from Stanford University via ScienceDaily:
Climate Scientists Forecast Permanently Hotter Summers
The tropics and much of the Northern Hemisphere are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures within the next 20 to 60 years if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, according to a new climate study by Stanford University scientists... "According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years," said the study's lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh... ...


Just so the winters are bone-chillin' frigid!

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Tue, Jun 7, 2011
from Associated Press:
Greenhouse gas emissions hitting record highs
Despite 20 years of effort, greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of down, hitting record highs as climate negotiators gather to debate a new global warming accord. The new report by the International Energy Agency showing high emissions from fossil fuels is one of several pieces of bad news facing delegates from about 180 countries heading to Bonn, Germany, for two weeks of talks beginning Monday...The figures are "a serious setback" to hopes of limiting the rise in the Earth's average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels, he said. Any rise beyond that, scientists believe, could lead to catastrophic climate shifts affecting water supplies and global agriculture, setting off more frequent and fierce storms and causing a rise in sea levels that would endanger coastlines. ...


Sounds eerily like what's happening now.

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Sat, Jun 4, 2011
from University of Bristol via ScienceDaily:
Ocean Acidification Leaves Clownfish Deaf to Predators
Baby clownfish use hearing to detect and avoid predator-rich coral reefs during the daytime, but new research from the University of Bristol demonstrates that ocean acidification could threaten this crucial behavior within the next few decades. Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, making pH drop faster than any time in the last 650,000 years and resulting in ocean acidification. Recent studies have shown that this causes fish to lose their sense of smell, but a new study published in Biology Letters shows that fish hearing is also compromised. ...


Maybe their eyesight will become enhanced.

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Mon, May 30, 2011
from Ottowa Citizen:
Tories left oilsands data out of UN report
The [Canadian] federal government has acknowledged it deliberately excluded data indicating a 20 per cent increase in annual pollution from Canada's oilsands industry in 2009 from a recent 567-page report on climate change that it was required to submit to the United Nations. The numbers, uncovered by Postmedia News, were left out of the report, a national inventory on Canada's greenhouse gas pollution. It revealed a six per cent drop in annual emissions for the entire economy from 2008 to 2009, but does not directly show the extent of pollution from the oilsands production, which is greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of all the cars driven on Canadian roads. The data also indicated that emissions per barrel of oil produced by the sector is increasing, despite claims made by the industry in an advertising campaign. "The oilsands remain Canada's fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas pollution, and they're the subject of a huge amount of attention and scrutiny in Canada and internationally," said Clare Demerse, director of climate change at the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental research group. "So it's very disappointing to see Environment Canada publish a 500-page report that leaves out these critical numbers -- especially when last year's edition included them." ...


They were simply reporting their dreams. Is that so wrong?

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Mon, May 30, 2011
from Guardian, from DesdemonaDespair:
Worst ever CO2 emissions last year: less than 2 degrees C nearly impossible
Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency. The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius - which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" - is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions. Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel - a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data. "I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say." ...


What does the cacophony of lost possible futures sound like?

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Sun, May 29, 2011
from NatureClimate, via EurekAlert:
Tiny bubbles signal severe impacts to coral reefs worldwide
The research team studied three natural volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea to better understand how ocean acidification will impact coral reefs ecosystem diversity. The study details the effects of long-term exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide and low pH on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, a condition that is projected to occur by the end of the century as increased man-made CO2 emissions alter the current pH level of seawater, turning the oceans acidic. "These 'champagne reefs' are natural analogs of how coral reefs may look in 100 years if ocean acidification conditions continue to get worse," said Langdon, UM Rosenstiel School professor and co-principal investigator of the study.... The study shows shifts in the composition of coral species and reductions in biodiversity and recruitment on the reef as pH declined from 8.1 to 7.8. The team also reports that reef development would cease at a pH below 7.7. The IPCC 4th Assessment Report estimates that by the end of the century, ocean pH will decline from the current level of 8.1 to 7.8, due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. "The seeps are probably the closest we can come to simulating the effect of man-made CO2 emissions on a coral reef," said Langdon. "They allow us to see the end result of the complex interactions between species under acidic ocean conditions." ...


Tiny bubbles, in the brine / Tiny bubbles, don't feel fine.

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Sat, May 28, 2011
from Reuters:
Big oil companies face growing concern on fracking
Large blocks of investors in the two biggest U.S. oil companies on Wednesday demanded more disclosure about the environmental risks of extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing. Exxon Mobil Corp defended the practice at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, even as investors peppered Chief Executive Rex Tillerson with concerns and questions about it. A proposal requiring more disclosure by Exxon on the impact of "fracking" received about 30 percent of the votes by shareholders in the world's largest publicly traded oil company. At rival Chevron Corp, which became heavily involved in fracking through a recent acquisition, 41 percent of shareholders backed a similar resolution. "Breaking 40 percent on a first year resolution has only happened a few times in the last few decades, so it shows how seriously the company's shareholders are taking this issue," said Michael Passoff, who focuses on fracking at San Francisco-based corporate responsibility group As You Sow.... However, Passoff said even regulators acknowledge that the current regulation by states is inadequate. ...


It's as if stockholders recognized a potential liability from pumping toxics willy-nilly into shattered subterranean layers. Can it be so?

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Thu, May 26, 2011
from Bill McKibben, 350.org:
Stay calm, it's just natural variation
Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week's shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn't mean a thing. It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas -- fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they've ever been -- the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they're somehow connected.... It's far smarter to repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change.... It's very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. ...


Just keep repeating: It's only a theory. It's only a theory.

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Wed, May 25, 2011
from Ohio State University via ScienceDaily:
Two Greenland Glaciers Lose Enough Ice to Fill Lake Erie
A new study aimed at refining the way scientists measure ice loss in Greenland is providing a "high-definition picture" of climate-caused changes on the island. And the picture isn't pretty. In the last decade, two of the largest three glaciers draining that frozen landscape have lost enough ice that, if melted, could have filled Lake Erie. The three glaciers -- Helheim, Kangerdlugssuaq and Jakobshavn Isbrae -- are responsible for as much as one-fifth of the ice flowing out from Greenland into the ocean. ...


This study makes me feel Kangerdlugssuaq all over!

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Mon, May 23, 2011
from RealClimate:
Seventeen Nobel Laureates Speak Out
On Wednesday, 17 Nobel laureates who gathered in Stockholm have published a remarkable memorandum, asking for "fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales in order to stop and reverse global environmental change". The Stockholm Memorandum concludes that we have entered a new geological era: the Anthropocene, where humanity has become the main driver of global change. The document states: Science makes clear that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. [...] We can no longer exclude the possibility that our collective actions will trigger tipping points, risking abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems. We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial. ...


But I like luxury.

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Fri, May 20, 2011
from BBC:
Brazil: Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply
Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased almost sixfold, new data suggests. Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil's space research institute says. Much of the destruction has been in Mato Grosso state, the centre of soya farming in Brazil. The news comes shortly before a vote on new forest protection rules. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the figures were "alarming" and announced the setting up of a "crisis cabinet" in response to the news. ...


All I gotta say is that "crisis cabinet" better not be made of wood!

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Tue, May 17, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth?
If alien geologists were to visit our planet 10 million years from now, would they discern a distinct human fingerprint in Earth's accumulating layers of rock and sediment? Will homo sapiens, in other words, define a geological period in the way dinosaurs -- and their vanishing act -- helped mark the Jurassic and the Cretaceous? A growing number of scientists, some gathered at a one-day symposium this week at the British Geological Society in London, say "yes"... For the first time in Earth's 4.7 billion year history, a single species has not only radically changed Earth's morphology, chemistry and biology, it is now aware of having done so. ...


Pimp my planet!

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Fri, May 13, 2011
from National Research Council, via New York Times:
Scientists' Report Stresses Urgency of Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The nation's scientific establishment issued a stark warning to the American public on Thursday: Not only is global warming real, but the effects are already becoming serious and the need has become "pressing" for a strong national policy to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases.... "The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts," the report concludes. "This is because many aspects of an 'overly ambitious' policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to 'undo.'"... The report's authors -- an unusual combination of climate scientists, businessmen and politicians -- said they were very aware that the political mood on climate change had changed significantly from when the committee was formed in 2009.... But Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, who has been leading the charge against further regulating carbon emissions, swiftly dismissed the council's findings in an interview Thursday. "I see nothing substantive in this report that adds to the knowledge base necessary to make an informed decision about what steps -- if any -- should be taken to address climate change," Mr. Barton said. ...


Silly scientists. All we need to do is Cntrl-Alt-Delete and restart the ecosystem.

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Tue, May 10, 2011
from Cardiff Western Mail:
Hi-tech teen lifestyle fuels climate change
TODAY'S teenagers are consuming more energy than any previous generation - despite receiving unprecedented education on climate change and other green issues, an academic has warned. Mobile phones, gaming devices, televisions, computers and hair straighteners are just some of the gadgets commonly found in the bedrooms of modern teenagers. Professor Ian Williams, who has studied the Facebook generation's lifestyles and environmentalism, says a typical teenager may have amassed more electrical items than an entire household would have owned a generation earlier. ...


They were so, like, primitive back then.

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Sun, May 8, 2011
from PNAS:
Tracking single coccolith dissolution with picogram resolution and implications for CO2 sequestration and ocean acidification
Currently, coccoliths serve as an important sink in the global carbon cycle, but decreasing ocean pH challenges their stability.... Even after 60 million years, the fossil coccolith crystals are still tiny..., compared with inorganically produced calcite, where one day old crystals can be 10 times larger, which raises the question if the biogenic nature of coccolith calcite gives it different properties than inorganic calcite? And if so, can these properties protect coccoliths in CO2 challenged oceans? Here we describe a new method for tracking dissolution of individual specimens, at picogram (10-12 g) resolution. The results show that the behavior of modern and fossil coccoliths is similar and both are more stable than inorganic calcite. Organic material associated with the biogenic calcite provides the explanation. However, ancient and modern coccoliths, that resist dissolution in Ca-free artificial seawater at pH > 8, all dissolve when pH is 7.8 or lower. Ocean pH is predicted to fall below 7.8 by the year 2100, in response to rising CO2 levels. Our results imply that at these conditions the advantages offered by the biogenic nature of calcite will disappear putting coccoliths on algae and in the calcareous bottom sediments at risk. ...


Denier translation: the human-produced CO2 that's not causing global warming is also not causing the ocean to go acidic, and therefore poses no threat to the base of the ocean food chain, nor to the ocean's ability to absorb CO2.

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Sun, May 1, 2011
from Yale360:
Outsourced Emissions Dwarf CO2 Cuts in Developed World, Study Says
Carbon emission reductions achieved since 1990 by the world's developed nations were canceled out many times over by the increase of imported goods from nations without binding emissions targets, including China, according to a new report. While climate policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, stabilized carbon emissions in many wealthy nations from 1990 to 2008, most of these nations increased their "consumption-based" emissions significantly during this period because of large imports, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which the authors call the first global assessment of how international trade affected national carbon footprints since Kyoto, says that while developed nations reduced their CO2 emissions by 2 percent from 1990 to 2008, those emissions actually increased by 7 percent when imports were factored in. "This suggests that the current focus on territorial emissions in a subset of countries may be ineffective at reducing global emissions without some mechanisms to monitor and report emissions from the production of imported goods and services," said Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research and lead author of the study. ...


Environmental default swaps gone wild.

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from Duke University via ScienceDaily:
Record Number of Whales, Krill Found in Antarctic Bays
Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region..."The lack of sea ice is good news for the whales in the short term, providing them with all-you-can-eat feasts as the krill migrate vertically toward the bay's surface each night. But it is bad news in the long term for both species, and for everything else in the Southern Ocean that depends on krill," says Ari S. Friedlaender, co-principal investigator on the project and a research scientist at Duke. ...


A krilling spree by humpback chumps.

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from USA Today:
Metro areas with dirtiest air get cleaner
Most U.S. cities with the dirtiest air are getting cleaner, but about half of Americans still live in areas where it's often difficult to breathe, the American Lung Association reports today. The group's 12th annual "State of the Air" report comes amid congressional efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions....EPA's 2009 data, released last week, shows total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions -- primarily carbon dioxide -- fell 6.1 percent from 2008, the largest decline in at least five years. The agency, which began a multiyear plan to regulate these emissions in January, attributed the drop to less polluting fuels and lower energy consumption because of the recession. ...


The United States of Airborne Particulates

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily:
Solar Power Goes Viral: Researchers Use Virus to Improve Solar-Cell Efficiency
Researchers at MIT have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level...that's where viruses come to the rescue. Graduate students Xiangnan Dang and Hyunjung Yi -- working with Angela Belcher, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, and several other researchers -- found that a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, can be used to control the arrangement of the nanotubes on a surface, keeping the tubes separate so they can't short out the circuits, and keeping the tubes apart so they don't clump. ...


What could go wrong?

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Sun, Apr 24, 2011
from Associated Press:
Costly gasoline clouds Obama re-election prospects
With gas prices climbing and little relief in sight, President Barack Obama is scrambling to get ahead of the latest potential obstacle to his re-election bid, even as Republicans are making plans to exploit the issue....As Obama well knows, Americans love their cars and remain heavily dependent on them, and they don't hesitate to punish politicians when the cost of filling their tanks goes through the roof. ...


This Easter, give your car a big bunny hug because it's the most important thing on the planet.

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Thu, Apr 21, 2011
from Guardian:
Fossil fuel firms use 'biased' study in massive gas lobbying push
Senior executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the fledgling green energy industry. Multinational companies including Shell, GDF Suez and Statoil are promoting gas as an alternative "green" fuel. These companies are among dozens around the world investing in new technologies to exploit shale gas, a controversial form of the fuel that has rejuvenated the gas industry because it is plentiful in supply and newly accessible due to technical advances in gas extraction known as "fracking".... Burning gas in power stations releases about half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing gas companies to claim it is a "green" source of fuel. Central to the lobbying effort is a report claiming that the EU could meet its 2050 carbon targets 900 billion euros more cheaply by using gas than by investing in renewables. But the Guardian has established that the analysis is based on a previous report that came to the opposite conclusion - that renewables should play a much larger role. The report being pushed by the fossil fuel industry has been disowned by its original authors who referred to it as "biased" in favour of gas.... For the last two months, company lobbyists have been besieging government officials in Europe, the US and elsewhere to push the report. Their efforts are being boosted through alliances with energy-intensive industries, which are joining in the pressure on government in the hope of securing cheap energy. ...


It ain't biased if I agree with it, and it makes me more money.

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Sun, Apr 17, 2011
from Hot Topic:
The trillionth ton
If we want to give ourselves a 75 percent chance of coming in below a 2 degree C rise in the global average temperature, then we (as in all humanity) can emit around one trillion tonnes of CO2 (for more see Meinshausen et al here, discussed in the context of emissions targets at HT in this post). It doesn't much matter when we do the emitting, because CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for a long time, but stick to that limit we must if we're serious about avoiding damaging warming. I like that way of thinking about the issue, as I noted in my report on the Forum, but it seems that I may have been rather optimistic about the height of the ceiling we're living under, and our chances of hitting a 2 degree C target. A new study by a team of Canadian climate modellers, Arora et al, Carbon emission limits required to satisfy future representative concentration pathways of greenhouse gases in Geophysical Research Letters..., suggests that: "... we have already surpassed the cumulative emission limit and so emissions must ramp down to zero immediately. The unprecedented reduction in fossil‐fuel emissions implied by either of these scenarios suggests that it is unlikely that warming can be limited to the 2 degrees C target agreed to in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord." Bugger. ...


Oh heck, stop worrying. Somebody'll think of something. Sometime.

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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
from Greenwire:
Shale Gas Isn't Cleaner Than Coal, Cornell Researchers Say
Cornell University researchers say that natural gas pried from shale formations is dirtier than coal in the short term, rather than cleaner, and "comparable" in the long term. That finding -- fiercely disputed by the gas industry -- undermines the widely stated belief that gas is twice as "clean" as coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The gas industry has promoted that concept as a way for electric utilities to prepare for climate change regulations by switching from coal-fired plants to gas.... "Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years," states a pre-publication copy (pdf) of the study... ...


Sounds like just another shale game to me.

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Tue, Apr 5, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Geoengineering: Scientists Debate Risks Of Sun-Blocking And Other Climate Tweaks To Fight Warming
Scientists of earth, sea and sky, scholars of law, politics and philosophy: In three intense days cloistered behind Chicheley Hall's old brick walls, four dozen thinkers pondered the planet's fate as it grows warmer, weighed the idea of reflecting the sun to cool the atmosphere and debated the question of who would make the decision to interfere with nature to try to save the planet. The unknown risks of "geoengineering" - in this case, tweaking Earth's climate by dimming the skies - left many uneasy.... "By most accounts, the leading contender is stratospheric aerosol particles," said climatologist John Shepherd of Britain's Southampton University. The particles would be sun-reflecting sulfates spewed into the lower stratosphere from aircraft, balloons or other devices - much like the sulfur dioxide emitted by the eruption of the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo in 1991, estimated to have cooled the world by 0.5 degrees C (0.9 degrees F) for a year or so.... The technique has other downsides: The sulfates would likely damage the ozone layer shielding Earth from damaging ultraviolet rays; they don't stop atmospheric carbon dioxide from acidifying the oceans; and sudden cooling of the Earth would itself alter climate patterns in unknown ways.... Some are also making a political calculation. If research shows the stratospheric pollutants would reverse global warming, unhappy people "would realize the alternative to reducing emissions is blocking out the sun," Hamilton observed. "We might never see blue sky again." If, on the other hand, the results are negative, or the risks too high, and global warming's impact becomes increasingly obvious, people will see "you have no Plan B," said EDF's Hamburg - no alternative to slashing use of fossil fuels. Either way, popular support should grow for cutting emissions. ...


Grey skies / how could that be? / Nothin' but blue skies / should I see.

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Thu, Mar 31, 2011
from PNAS, via Mongabay:
'Huge reduction' of water from plants due to higher CO2 levels
As if ocean acidification and a warming world weren't enough, researchers have outlined another way in which carbon emissions are impacting the planet. A new study shows that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have taken a toll on how much water vapor plants release, potentially impacting the rainfall and groundwater sources. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found that carbon dioxide levels over the past 150 years has reduced plants' spores, called stomata, by over one third (34 percent). This is important because stomata take in oxygen and carbon dioxide and release water vapor in a process dubbed 'transpiration'. Less stomata means less water driven into the atmosphere. "The increase in carbon dioxide by about 100 parts per million has had a profound effect on the number of stomata and, to a lesser extent, the size of the stomata," explains co-authors David Dilcher of Indiana University Bloomington in a press release. "Our analysis of that structural change shows there's been a huge reduction in the release of water to the atmosphere."... "The carbon cycle is important, but so is the water cycle. If transpiration decreases, there may be more moisture in the ground at first, but if there's less rainfall that may mean there's less moisture in ground eventually," Dilcher says, adding that, "this is part of the hyrdrogeologic cycle. Land plants are a crucially important part of it." ...


But the glass was half-full so recently!

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Tue, Mar 29, 2011
from Associated Press:
S. Carolina lawmakers take dim view of new light bulbs
South Carolina lawmakers are taking a stand in favor of states' lights. With incandescent bulbs being phased out under federal law in favor of energy-efficient compact fluorescents, legislators want to exempt South Carolina from the measure, saying Washington has no business telling the state how to light its closets and countertops. The proposed state law, called the Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, "allows South Carolina to say to the federal government we are going to exercise our rights," said Republican state Rep. Bill Sandifer, a co-sponsor. ...


The Freedom to Ruin the Earth Edict (FREE)

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Fri, Mar 25, 2011
from Leader-Post:
Counting down to 2011 Earth Hour
Major landmarks across Canada -from the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver to the MontRoyal Cross in Montreal -will stand in darkness Saturday as more than 100 countries pledge to turn their lights off as a call to action for climate change. Earth Hour started as a simple conversation between The World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Chicago-based advertising agency Leo Burnett and the Sydney Morning Herald about climate change and how to raise and demonstrate public support. But that discussion sparked an idea that led to the now-annual, hour-long, lights-off event. ...


At my house, we're having Earth Night!

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Wed, Mar 23, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
A global energy war looms
HSBC has calculated what would happen to energy consumption by 2050 given plausible forecasts for economic growth and assuming no constraint on resources, or that humans carry on using energy in the "taken for granted" way they do at the moment. As you can see, demand in China, India and other emerging markets soars, but there is also quite considerable growth from advanced economies too. The big picture is that with an additional one billion cars on the road, demand for oil would grow 110pc to more than 190 million barrels per day. Total demand for energy would rise by a similar order of magnitude, doubling the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to more than three and a half times the amount climate change scientists think would keep temperatures at safe levels. It scarcely needs saying that regardless of the environmental consequences, energy industries would struggle to cope, and more likely would find it impossible. We may or may not already be perilously close to peak oil - or maximum productive capacity - but nobody believes the industry could produce double what it does at the moment, however clever it becomes in tapping previously uncommercial or inaccessible reserves. If something can't happen, then it won't, so is all that forecast growth in the developing world just a question of wishful thinking that will soon be dashed by the constraints of finite energy? Not necessarily, says HSBC's economics team. The world can still accommodate high growth, but only if there is a collective change in behaviour, including much greater energy efficiency, a big change in the energy mix, and urgent development of carbon capture technologies so as to limit the damage of fossil fuel usage. ...


When there's wars, there'll be big profits!

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Sat, Mar 19, 2011
from Nature:
'Wilful ignorance': Nature opinion
At a subcommittee hearing on 14 March, anger and distrust were directed at scientists and respected scientific societies. Misinformation was presented as fact, truth was twisted and nobody showed any inclination to listen to scientists, let alone learn from them. It has been an embarrassing display, not just for the Republican Party but also for Congress and the US citizens it represents.... [T]he legislation is fundamentally anti-science, just as the rhetoric that supports it is grounded in wilful ignorance. One lawmaker last week described scientists as "elitist" and "arrogant" creatures who hide behind "discredited" institutions.... [T]o deny that there is reason to be concerned, given the decades of work by countless scientists, is irresponsible. ...


Why should we listen to egghead smarty-pantses? What do they know?

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Wed, Mar 16, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Isobutanol directly from cellulose
Using consolidated bioprocessing, a team led by James Liao of the University of California at Los Angeles for the first time produced isobutanol directly from cellulose. The team's work, published online in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, represents across-the-board savings in processing costs and time, plus isobutanol is a higher grade of alcohol than ethanol. "Unlike ethanol, isobutanol can be blended at any ratio with gasoline and should eliminate the need for dedicated infrastructure in tanks or vehicles," said Liao.... "Plus, it may be possible to use isobutanol directly in current engines without modification."... While cellulosic biomass like corn stover and switchgrass is abundant and cheap, it is much more difficult to utilize than corn and sugar cane. This is due in large part because of recalcitrance, or a plant's natural defenses to being chemically dismantled.... The researchers noted that their strategy exploits the host's natural cellulolytic activity and the amino acid biosynthetic pathway and diverts its intermediates to produce higher alcohol than ethanol. ...


These guys are really smart. How come they're not in banking, or something productive like that?

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from Guardian:
China's coal reserves 'will make it new Middle East', says energy chief
Vast reserves of coal in the far west of China mean it is set to become the "new Middle East", a leading figure in the global coal industry has claimed. Fred Palmer, the chairman of the London-based World Coal Association and a key executive at Peabody Energy, the world's largest privately owned coal company, also said that China is leading the US in efforts to develop technology to "clean" coal of its carbon emissions by burying them underground.... "I think Xinjiang province in the west of China, where they say there's a trillion tonnes of resources, will be the new Middle East. Anyone who has the notion that we're going to move away from fossil fuels just isn't paying attention." China is "ahead of the US" when it comes to developing low-carbon coal technology, said Palmer, and "we should be doing what they are doing". This weekend, the Chinese government announced a new five-year plan, which included a pledge to reduce emissions growth relative to GDP by 17 per cent. Palmer added that the world should "applaud" China for consuming so much coal "because it makes the world better for everyone for no other reason that it takes huge price pressures off of oil". China processes a significant amount of its coal to produce liquid fuels which can be used as an oil replacement. ...


A warmer climate will do us all good. Who wouldn't like the lazy hazy days of summer, all year 'round?

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Mon, Mar 7, 2011
from Reuters:
Republicans launch bill to axe EPA carbon rules
Republicans in both chambers of Congress introduced bills on Thursday that would permanently stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions blamed for warming the planet. President Barack Obama would veto a bill that blocks the agency from tackling climate change, administration officials have said. Obama has pledged to the world the United States will cut greenhouse gases to about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.... "The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation's energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy," said Ed Whitfield, the chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, a co-sponsor of the measure. Senator James Inhofe, a climate skeptic who is writing a book on global warming called "The Hoax," introduced a version of the legislation in the upper chamber. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases under federal law. The EPA then declared the emissions endanger public health, which paved the way for its regulation of gases from smokestacks and vehicles, which began in January. ...


Self-regulation within the energy industry has been successful so far.

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Sun, Mar 6, 2011
from Time:
Testing the Waters
...Corals build colonies that secrete calcium carbonate to form ocean reefs. When they're healthy, coral reefs provide shelter and food for animals all along the food chain, including the top: us. Across the planet, half a billion people rely, directly and indirectly, on corals for their living. That's why what happens to the 9,000-year-old Great Barrier Reef, as well as to other reefs worldwide, is critical. The recent Queensland floods were most notably tragic for the lives lost and property destroyed. But they have also hurt the Great Barrier Reef by funneling into the ocean vast plumes of freshwater and agricultural runoff that could severely damage the coral. Besides the extreme rain that sparked the floods, rising ocean temperatures, changes to the ocean's chemistry and the global trade in natural resources -- all symptoms of our fossil-fuel economy -- are waging a multifront war on the marine environment. "You can't walk into a forest and start hacking at branches and killing off animals and denuding the forest cover without killing the trees," says Justin Marshall, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland. "The outlook for the whole reef is poor." ...


This story brought to you by a mag once called TIME now called NO TIME LEFT.

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Thu, Mar 3, 2011
from PNAS, via EurekAlert:
Rising CO2 is causing plants to release less water to the atmosphere, researchers say
As carbon dioxide levels have risen during the last 150 years, the density of pores that allow plants to breathe has dwindled by 34 percent, restricting the amount of water vapor the plants release to the atmosphere, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and Utrecht University in the Netherlands in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (now online).... "The increase in carbon dioxide by about 100 parts per million has had a profound effect on the number of stomata and, to a lesser extent, the size of the stomata," said Research Scientist in Biology and Professor Emeritus in Geology David Dilcher, the two papers' sole American coauthor. "Our analysis of that structural change shows there's been a huge reduction in the release of water to the atmosphere." ...


I don't think I can stomata this news.

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Mon, Feb 28, 2011
from London Guardian:
Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change?
The Berkeley Earth project say they are about to reveal the definitive truth about global warming... The aim is so simple that the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking is easy to miss. Starting from scratch, with new computer tools and more data than has ever been used, they will arrive at an independent assessment of global warming. The team will also make every piece of data it uses -- 1.6bn data points -- freely available on a website. It will post its workings alongside, including full information on how more than 100 years of data from thousands of instruments around the world are stitched together to give a historic record of the planet's temperature. Muller is fed up with the politicised row that all too often engulfs climate science. By laying all its data and workings out in the open, where they can be checked and challenged by anyone, the Berkeley team hopes to achieve something remarkable: a broader consensus on global warming. ...


This hope pre-supposes climate skeptics are willing to change their minds.

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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Sniffle, snort, achoo! Allergy season is extending, scientists find.
Bad news for - achoo! - those who sniffle, er suffer their way through ragweed - sniff, snort, itch - season: A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season. It's enough to make you grab a tissue: Minneapolis has tacked 16 days to the ragweed pollen season since 1995; LaCrosse, Wisc. has added 13 days, Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada have added 25 and 27 days, respectively. The new research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the longer pollen seasons correlate with the disproportionate warming happening around the planet and attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. ...


I think I'm allergic to climate change...

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Sun, Feb 20, 2011
from The Independent:
Plastic grocery bags 'not eco-villains after all'?
Unpublished Government research suggests the plastic carrier may not be an eco villain after all - but, whisper it, an unsung hero. Hated by environmentalists and shunned by shoppers, the disposable plastic bag is piling up in a shame-filled corner of retail history. But a draft report by the Environment Agency, obtained by the Independent on Sunday, has found that ordinary high density polythene (HDPE) bags used by shops are actually greener than supposedly low impact choices. HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the Co2 emissions than paper bags which are given out by retailers such as Primark. The findings suggest that, in order to balance out the tiny impact of each lightweight plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year, or use paper bags at least thrice rather than sticking them in the bin or recycling. ...


I thought things were either good, or they were bad. Where does "it's complicated" fit?

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Sat, Feb 19, 2011
from Live Science:
New Idea to Reduce Global Warming: Everyone Eat Insects
There is a rational, even persuasive, argument for voluntarily eating insects: Bugs are high in protein, require less space to grow and offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to the vertebrates we Westerners prefer, advocates of the bug fare say. However, this topic is not a hotbed of research, so while some data exist -- in particular on the protein content of insects -- there are some assumptions built into the latter part of this argument. "The suggestion that insects would be more efficient has been around for quite some time," said Dennis Oonincx, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He and other researchers decided to test it, by comparing the greenhouse gas emissions from five species of insects with those of cattle and pigs. The results, Oonincx said, "really are quite hopeful." ...


Hopeful maybe for everyone but the poor bugs!

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Fri, Feb 18, 2011
from Huffington Post:
House Votes To Block EPA From Regulating Greenhouse Gases
The Republican-controlled House has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. The 249-177 vote added the regulation ban to a sweeping spending bill that would fund the government through Sept. 30. The restriction is opposed by the Obama administration, which is using its regulatory powers to curb greenhouse gases after global warming legislation collapsed last year. The administration also says the ban would cost thousands of construction jobs. EPA has already taken steps to regulate global warming pollution from vehicles and the largest factories and industrial plants. It is expected to soon roll out rules that target refineries and power plants. Texas Republican Ted Poe pressed the anti-EPA measure. His Texas district is home to many oil refineries. ...


The Republican™ brand just got hotter.

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Thu, Feb 17, 2011
from Harvard, via FastCompany:
Coal Costs the U.S. $500 Billion Annually in Health, Economic, Environmental Impacts
A report from Harvard researchers in this month's Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences will reveal that coal use costs the U.S. between a third and over half a trillion dollars each year in health, economic, and environmental impacts.... The report, written by Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, examines the life cycle of coal production to find "hidden costs," or costs that occur "when the activity of one agent affects the well-being of another agent outside of any type of market mechanism." These costs include damages from climate change (like weather events and rising seas, public health damages from toxins released during electricity generation, deaths from rail accidents during coal transport, public health problems in coal-mining regions (in Appalachia, mountaintop removal contaminates surface and groundwater with carcinogens and heavy metals), government subsidies, and lost value of abandoned mine areas. In Appalachian communities alone, public health burdens from coal mining cost $74.6 billion each year. Air pollutant emissions cost $187.5 billion, mercury emission impacts reach $29.3 billion, and greenhouse gas emissions (and accompanying climate change effects) from coal-fired plants costs between between $61.7 and $205.8 billion. And then there are the smaller costs--between $2.2 and $10 billion in impacts from land disturbances, and impacts from toxic spills, declines in property values, tourism loss, and crop damage. ...


Well, sure, but think of the jobs!

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Thu, Feb 10, 2011
from Guardian:
Mass tree deaths prompt fears of Amazon 'climate tipping point'
Billions of trees died in the record drought that struck the Amazon in 2010, raising fears that the vast forest is on the verge of a tipping point, where it will stop absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and instead increase them. The dense forests of the Amazon soak up more than one-quarter of the world's atmospheric carbon, making it a critically important buffer against global warming. But if the Amazon switches from a carbon sink to a carbon source that prompts further droughts and mass tree deaths, such a feedback loop could cause runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences. "Put starkly, current emissions pathways risk playing Russian roulette with the world's largest forest," said tropical forest expert Simon Lewis, at the University of Leeds, and who led the research published today in the journal Science.... He said increasing droughts in the Amazon are found in some climate models, including the sophisticated model used by the Hadley centre. This means the 2005 and 2010 droughts are consistent with the idea that global warming will cause more droughts in future, emit more carbon, and potentially lead to runaway climate change. "The greenhouse gases we have already emitted may mean there are several more droughts in the pipeline," he said. ...


That tale of the pipeline is exhausting.

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Thu, Feb 10, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Attacks on EPA misrepresent regulations' effects on economy
Having successfully blocked the legislative branch from adopting carbon regulations, congressional Republicans and a few Democrats are now moving to cripple the EPA, whose mandate under the Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court found, includes addressing climate change. The rationale is that the rules "threaten jobs and economic growth." Environmental groups have responded with dump of data that indicates that the claim couldn't be farther from the truth. For instance, a CERES-commissioned report released today estimates that the rules currently being considered would create 1.46 million jobs -- about 290,000 per year over the next five years. The jobs would largely be skilled, high-paying jobs in engineering and construction, as power plants design and install new scrubbers. According to World Resources Institute analysis of historical OMB data, over the 10-year period starting October 1, 1999, EPA regulations cost the nation $26-29 billion. Their benefits, however, totaled between $82 and $533 billion. In other words, benefits outpaced their costs by at least a factor of three, and possibly by a factor of 20. ...


As if I'd let data get in the way of an article of faith.

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Thu, Feb 10, 2011
from Associated Press:
New drilling method opens vast oil fields in US
new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude. Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day -- more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.... Environmentalists fear that fluids or wastewater from the process, called hydraulic fracturing, could pollute drinking water supplies. ...


Whew! We can remain addicted to oil after all!

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from Discovery:
Amazon Drought of 2010 Sign of Forest Fatigue
The tropical forests of Amazonia may be giving up their role as buffers against the continuing buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists report, a circumstance that could accelerate climate change. The warning comes in the new issue of the journal Science, where an international research team reports that the drought in the Amazon during 2010 was even worse than what scientists called the "once-in-a-century" drought of 2005.... "The two recent Amazon droughts demonstrate a mechanism by which remaining intact tropical forests of South American can shift from buffering the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide to accelerating it," the scientists write. Growing trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Dying trees give it back. ...


How can a carbon sink become a carbon faucet?

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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Planet is 'more sensitive to carbon dioxide than we thought'
... Kiehl describes how he examined the relationship between global temperatures and high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere tens of millions of years ago. Global temperatures then averaged about 16 deg C above pre-industrial levels. The article pulls together several recent studies that look at various aspects of the climate system, while adding a mathematical approach by Kiehl to estimate average global temperatures in the distant past. The study found that carbon dioxide may have two times or more the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models of global climate. The world's leading computer models generally project that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would have a climate feedback factor (ratio of change in surface temperature to radiative forcing) in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 deg C per watts per square metre. However, the published data show that the comparable climate feedback factor of carbon dioxide 35 million years ago amounted to about 2 deg C per watt per square metre.... Because carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere at a rate that has never been experienced, Kiehl could not estimate how long it would take for the planet to fully heat up. However, a rapid warm-up would make it especially difficult for societies and ecosystems to adapt, he says. He estimates that global temperatures may take centuries or millennia to fully adjust in response to the higher carbon dioxide levels. ...


Planet, if you want our respect, you'll need to toughen up.

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Mon, Jan 31, 2011
from New York Times:
Once Popular, Car Pools Go the Way of Hitchhiking
Remember the 1970s? Watergate, disco, oil embargoes and, of course, car-pooling. Many big companies organized group rides for their employees, and roughly one in four Americans who drove to work shared a ride with others. But now far more people are driving alone, as companies have spread out, Americans are wealthier and cars have become cheaper to own. The percentage of workers who car-pool has dropped by almost half since 1980, the first time the Census Bureau started systematically tracking the numbers, according to new data from the bureau. ...


And thus we shall drive / one person per vehicle / unto our ruin

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Mon, Jan 31, 2011
from Guardian:
World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest
A reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions is not only the decided goal of environmentalists but also of pretty much every government in the world. Currently 191 countries have adopted the Kyoto protocol with the aim of collectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 63.9 percent of the 1990 levels by 2012.... * China emits more CO2 than the US and Canada put together - up by 171 percent since the year 2000 * The US has had declining CO2 for two years running - the first time this has happened, certainly since these records began. ...


C'mon America! This is a Sputnik moment! Consume!

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Sat, Jan 29, 2011
from The Economist:
Burning ambitions
IN RICH countries, where people worry about air quality and debate ways of pricing carbon emissions, coal is deeply unfashionable. Elsewhere demand for the dirty rocks has never been stronger. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons world consumption will increase by a fifth over the next 25 years, assuming governments stick to their current climate-change policies. A new age of coal is upon us.... the coal boom blows yet another hole in the effort to restrain greenhouse-gas emissions. The Kyoto protocol makes countries responsible only for their own direct emissions. As environmentalists point out, rich countries that spurn coal-fired power while exporting the rocks to countries with less ambitious emissions targets are merely shifting the problem around the globe. ...


Does this coal plant make my butt look big???

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Sat, Jan 29, 2011
from University of Colorado at Boulder via ScienceDaily:
Warming North Atlantic Water Tied to Heating Arctic
The temperatures of North Atlantic Ocean water flowing north into the Arctic Ocean adjacent to Greenland -- the warmest water in at least 2,000 years -- are likely related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic, says a new international study involving the University of Colorado Boulder...The team believes that the rapid warming of the Arctic and recent decrease in Arctic sea ice extent are tied to the enhanced heat transfer from the North Atlantic Ocean..."Cold seawater is critical for the formation of sea ice, which helps to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back to space..." ...


Call it... the "albedone effect."

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Fri, Jan 28, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Revised data show feds understate climate costs
The cost of climate change impacts runs twice as high as previously estimated, according to revised data from a key economic model used by federal agencies. The preliminary analysis suggests that the number used by federal agencies to help justify emissions reductions is too low -- making the cuts appear disproportionately expensive under the cost-benefit analysis required of federal rules. The revised numbers, say scientists and economists familiar with the research, are a sign that climate impacts likely will be more expensive than previous assumptions. Models used to generate current cost impacts contain gaps and, in some cases, outdated assumptions. As those models are refined and updated, they show greater economic harm as global temperatures rise in response to greenhouse gas emissions. ...


I have a feeling there's all sorts of things being understated about the coming Apocalypse.

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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Reuters:
Arctic short-cut shipping to leap in 2011 -Russia
Russia predicted on Tuesday a surge in voyages on an Arctic short-cut sea route in 2011 as a thaw linked to climate change opens the region even more to shipping and oil and mining companies. High metals and oil prices, linked to rising demand from China and other emerging economies, is helping to spur interest in the Arctic and the route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as an alternative to travelling via the Suez canal. ...


The Apocalypse is nigh -- LET'S PARTY!!!

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Wed, Jan 26, 2011
from Rolling Stone:
12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming
No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than [Rupert] Murdoch. In a year of rec­ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade -- the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that "global warming doesn't exist" and speculated about "the true agenda of global-warming hysterics." Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was "too many polar bears." ...


This is the dirtiest dozen of all.

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Wed, Jan 26, 2011
from ProPublica:
Climate Benefits of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency -- and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full "life cycle" of gas production -- is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change. Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future. But those assumptions are based on emissions from the tailpipe or smokestack and don't account for the methane and other pollution emitted when gas is extracted and piped to power plants and other customers. The EPA's new analysis doubles its previous estimates for the amount of methane gas that leaks from loose pipe fittings and is vented from gas wells, drastically changing the picture of the nation's emissions that the agency painted as recently as April. ...


Can we at least still call it natural?

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Tue, Jan 25, 2011
from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne via ScienceDaily:
Humans Have Been Provoking Climate Change for Thousands of Years, Carbon History Shows
The Roman Conquest, the Black Death and the discovery of America -- by modifying the nature of the forests -- have had a significant impact on the environment. These are the findings of EPFL scientists who have researched our long history of emitting carbon into the environment. Humans didn't wait for the industrial revolution to provoke environment and climate change. They have been having an influence for at least 8000 years." ...


No wonder this habit is so hard to break.

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Tue, Jan 25, 2011
from Inter Press Service:
Driving Straight Into Catastrophe
Despite repeated warnings by environmental and climate experts that reduction of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is fundamental to forestalling global warming, disaster appears imminent. According to the latest statistics, unprecedented climate change has Earth hurtling down a path of catastrophic proportions. The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the global consumption of primary energy in 2010 reached some 500 exajoules (EJ), a number just under the worst-case scenario formulated ten years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC's Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, published in 2000, calculated the worst-case scenario as 525 EJ consumed in one calendar year. The IEA found that coal was one of the largest sources of energy consumed in 2010, comprising approximately 27 percent of the total energy consumption. Coal, one of the cheapest sources of energy, is considered the filthiest of all, as far as greenhouse gases emissions (GHGE) are concerned. ...


If you're heading for a cliff might as well accelerate!

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Sun, Jan 23, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Climate change: Dogs of law are off the leash
From being a marginal and even mocked issue, climate-change litigation is fast emerging as a new frontier of law where some believe hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. Compensation for losses inflicted by man-made global warming would be jaw-dropping, a payout that would make tobacco and asbestos damages look like pocket money. Imagine: a country or an individual could get redress for a drought that destroyed farmland, for floods and storms that created an army of refugees, for rising seas that wiped a small island state off the map. In the past three years, the number of climate-related lawsuits has ballooned, filling the void of political efforts in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions. ...


That won't be a problem here in the United States where climate change is an ideological issue.

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Sat, Jan 22, 2011
from Climatewire:
Greenland's Ice Feels the Heat in Record-Setting 2010
Greenland's massive ice sheet experienced record surface melting and runoff last year, according to research released today. Unusually warm conditions in much of the country helped extend the annual melting season by up to 50 days longer in 2010 than the average observed between 1979 and 2009, researchers found... Last year was the warmest in Greenland's capital, Nuuk, since record keeping began there in 1873. Nuuk, on the country's southwest coast, also set records in 2010 for warmest winter, spring and summer seasons. ...


We're Nuuked!

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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
Seeking permission to pollute
A monitor at George Washington High School on the Southeast Side shows that air in the neighborhood has the distinction of containing the state's highest levels of toxic heavy metals, chromium and cadmium, as well as sulfates, which can trigger asthma attacks and increase the risk of heart disease. The school sits across from a long-shuttered industrial site where Leucadia National Corp. plans to build a $3 billion coal-to-gas plant that would add even more pollution to one of the nation's most polluted areas. Two hurdles remain for the plant to become reality. Gov. Pat Quinn only needs to sign a bill that muscled its way through the General Assembly during the recent lame-duck session. And the state Pollution Control Board must decide whether the owners of the industrial site can sell their permission to pollute to New York-based Leucadia. ...


You certainly have my permission to let rich people get richer while ruining the environment.

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Sat, Jan 15, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Climate change could happen much faster than previously thought
Humans are in danger of making large parts of the Earth uninhabitable for thousands of years because of man made climate change, according to new evidence based on geological records. The US study predicted that if society continues burning fossil fuels at the current rate, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide could rise from the current level of 390 parts per million (ppm) to 1,000 by the end of this century.... But unlike last time, when it happened over millions of years, temperatures will rise too fast for species to adapt and change. In the short term he said temperatures could rise by more than 10.8F (6C) by the end of the century, which will also wipe out species.... "A truly conservative position is to conserve what we have, to not radically change things and if we do not want to radically change the environment then the conservative approach is to conserve the Earth as the human species has known it ever since we have been around on this planet." ...


Perhaps wiping out millions of species will decrease the atmospheric CO2, since they'll no longer be exhaling.

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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Associated Press:
2010 ties 2005 as warmest year on record worldwide
It's a tie: Last year equaled 2005 as the warmest year on record, government climate experts reported Wednesday. The average worldwide temperature was 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit (0.62 degree Celsius) above normal last year. That's the same as six years ago, the National Climatic Data Center announced. Climate experts have become increasingly concerned about rising global temperatures over the last century. Most atmospheric scientists attribute the change to gases released into the air by industrial processes and gasoline-burning engines. In addition, the Global Historical Climatology Network said Wednesday that last year was the wettest on record. Rain and snowfall patterns varied greatly around the world. ...


It's as if... the years are competing with each other!

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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Washington Post:
New global network to precisely measure emissions
A D.C. area company and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will announce Wednesday that they are launching an ambitious project that aims to precisely gauge how human activity is affecting the climate. The $25 million, five-year commercial venture will include 50 sensors in the United States and another 50 around the world to measure atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Most governments and industries estimate their carbon footprint based on an inventory of the fossil fuels they burn, the trees they cut or the landfills they create; this technology will allow experts to quantify how much carbon dioxide and methane has entered the air. ...


We better be able to see this in 3-D.

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Wed, Jan 12, 2011
from NOAA via ScienceDaily:
Atmosphere's Self-Cleaning Capacity Surprisingly Stable
An international, NOAA-led research team took a significant step forward in understanding the atmosphere's ability to cleanse itself of air pollutants and some other gases, except carbon dioxide. The issue has been controversial for many years, with some studies suggesting the self-cleaning power of the atmosphere is fragile and sensitive to environmental changes, while others suggest greater stability. And what researchers are finding is that the atmosphere's self-cleaning capacity is rather stable. ...


Sounds sorta like my oven.

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Mon, Jan 10, 2011
from CBC:
Climate change on inevitable course: study
Researchers from the University of Calgary and Environment Canada's climate centre at the University of Victoria say coastal areas will flood and the Earth's land mass will shrink as global sea levels rise by at least four metres over the next millennium. They also believe parts of North Africa will dry out by up to 30 per cent and ocean warming is likely to trigger widespread collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, a region the size of the Canadian Prairies.... "We were kind of surprised by the result, actually. Even if we change behaviour and totally change society, we're still in store for a lot of bad scenarios. I feel a bit defeatist from it."... The team used computer modelling to speculate how the world would change by the year 3000 in a "zero emissions" scenario.... If we drop dead with emissions right now, the Arctic sea ice gets worse for another 10 or 20 years but then it comes back -- so by 2100 it's back to what we're used to. "If we keep business as usual, the sea ice in the Arctic is mostly gone." ...


Time to invest in Nunavut!

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Sun, Jan 9, 2011
from WGBH Climatide:
Discovery of the year: ocean acidification is happening NOW
ocean acidification is the phenomenon in which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the surface waters of the ocean, producing carbonic acid that (in sufficient quantities) shifts the pH balance of the ocean toward acidity and impairs the ability of animals like oysters and corals to extract the calcium carbonate they need to build their skeletons or shells. In the past 200 years, the ocean has absorbed nearly a third of carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity. Talmage and Gobler reared quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) and bay scallops (Argopecten irradia) under conditions simulating past, present, and likely future carbon dioxide levels. Not surprisingly (because numerous previous studies have documented similar findings), the shellfish of the future had severe shell defects, higher death rates, and slower growth than their modern-CO2 counterparts. What was less expected was the observation that modern conditions produced shellfish with thinner shells, slower growth, and death rates almost double those of shellfish grown in pre-industrial water conditions. ...


As if the health of bivalves has anything to do with me!

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Sun, Jan 9, 2011
from canada.com:
Another century of emissions will fuel 1,000 years of climate change: Study
Shawn Marshall says he's not a catastrophist. The world will still be standing in the next millennium if global carbon emissions continue at their current rate for the next 100 years, says the Canada research chair in climate change, who contributed to a study released Sunday. "I have a feeling a lot of nature will adapt and evolve to this, it's just we'll lose some stuff on the way," he said. "I mean, we've seen pretty clearly that coral reefs can't adapt quickly, so we'll lose some of that. We'll lose some of our favourite ski areas, a number of different cities like Venice or Manhattan." Marshall, a geography professor at the University of Calgary, recently completed work with a team of researchers from an Environment Canada research laboratory at the University of Victoria.... They found that current carbon dioxide levels will cause unstoppable effects to the climate for at least the next 1,000 years, which could cause an eventual rise of at least four metres in the global sea level by the year 3000, as well as the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet -- an area the size of Canada's prairies. "There's no way to get around that," Marshall said. "If we get that much cumulative impact on the atmosphere and the warm water gets under the ice sheet, there's no real way out." The researchers acknowledged that it's unrealistic to think society will suddenly one day stop using fossil fuels and pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. ...


Good thing he's not a catastrophist!

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Sat, Jan 8, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
What Carbon Cycle? College Students Lack Scientific Literacy, Study Finds
Most college students in the United States do not grasp the scientific basis of the carbon cycle -- an essential skill in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, according to research published in the January issue of BioScience.... "Improving students' understanding of these biological principles could make them better prepared to deal with important environmental issues such as global climate change," said Charles "Andy" Anderson, MSU professor of teacher education and co-investigator on the project.... Students trying to explain weight loss, for example, could not trace matter once it leaves the body; instead they used informal reasoning based on their personal experiences (such as the fat "melted away" or was "burned off"). In reality, the atoms in fat molecules leave the body (mostly through breathing) and enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and water. Most students also incorrectly believe plants obtain their mass from the soil rather than primarily from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "When you see a tree growing," Anderson said, "it's a lot easier to believe that tree is somehow coming out of the soil rather than the scientific reality that it's coming out of the air." ...


When you've learned your science from TV ads, you've really learned a lot!!

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Wed, Jan 5, 2011
from London Independent:
Tax on carbon: The only way to save our planet?
Professor James Hansen's last formal engagement was delivering a keynote paper to the American Geophysical Union Autumn meeting. After that, he spent the holidays not enjoying wintry walks or taking advantage of the sales, but doing something altogether more industrious. "I'm writing a paper to provide the scientific basis for [law] suits against the government - just to make them do their job," he says..."I realised that if we [scientists] don't help to connect the dots from what the science says to what the implications are for policy, then those dots get connected by people who have special interests," says Hansen, explaining his decision. "I think scientists are able to be objective. Governments just don't face the facts clearly. And it's scary because as scientists we can see what the implications are for our own children and grandchildren." ...


You know what's really scary? That we have to find this story about a courageous American scientist ... in a London newspaper.

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Tue, Jan 4, 2011
from Aquatic Toxicology:
The effect of carbon dioxide on growth of juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L.
All water quality parameters were within the range of what might normally be considered acceptable for good growth, including the CO2 levels tested. Weight gain, growth rate and condition factor were substantially reduced with increasing CO2 dosage. The size-specific growth trajectories of fish reared under the medium and high CO2 treatments were approximately 2.5 and 7.5 times lower (respectively) than that of fish in the low treatment. Size variance and mortality rate was not significantly different amongst treatments, indicating that there was no differential size mortality due the effects of hypercapnia, and the CO2 levels tested were within the adaptive capacity of the fish. In addition, an analysis was carried out of the test CO2 concentrations reported in three other long-term hypercapnia experiments using marine fish species. The test concentrations were recalculated from the reported carbonate chemistry conditions, and indicated that the CO2 concentration effect threshold may have been overestimated in two of these studies. Our study suggests that juvenile Atlantic cod are more susceptible to the chronic effects of environmental hypercapnia than other marine fish examined to date. ...


So we didn't overfish the Atlantic cod. They just got smaller and smaller and smaller...

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Sun, Jan 2, 2011
from Washington Post:
Coal's burnout
The headline news for the coal industry in 2010 was what didn't happen: Construction did not begin on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year.... "Coal is a dead man walkin'," says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. "Banks won't finance them. Insurance companies won't insure them. The EPA is coming after them. . . . And the economics to make it clean don't work." ...


Coal in their Christmas stocking is exactly what the industry deserves.

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Fri, Dec 24, 2010
from New York Times:
Climate Change and 'Balanced' Coverage
In an article this week on the relentless rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I outlined one of the canonical projections of climate science: if the amount of carbon dioxide doubles, the average surface temperature of the earth is likely to increase by 5 or 6 degrees Fahrenheit, a whopping change. I contrasted that with a prediction from skeptics of climate change who contend that the increase is likely to be less than 2 degrees. One major voice on climate science, Richard B. Alley of the Pennsylvania State University, told me he gets annoyed by the way this contrast is often presented in news accounts. The higher estimate is often put forward as a worst case, he pointed out, while the skeptic number is presented as the best case... The true worst case from doubled carbon dioxide is closer to 18 or 20 degrees of warming, Dr. Alley said -- an addition of heat so radical that it would render the planet unrecognizable to its present-day inhabitants. ...


Just when you thought it was safe to slip back into denial.

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Fri, Dec 24, 2010
from BBC:
New cars in Beijing cut by two-thirds to battle traffic
New rules have taken effect in China that restrict car purchases in an effort to combat serious traffic problems in the capital, Beijing. City authorities will allow only 240,000 vehicles to be registered for 2011 - one-third of this year's total. Car buyers have been swamping dealers in anticipation of the new rules, which will still leave about five million cars on the road in the capital. Traffic and air pollution in Beijing is among the worst in the world.... Yang Ailun of Greenpeace China told the BBC that the restrictions had come far too late... "Everything in China now happens so quickly, and the government always fails to anticipate what's coming, and as a result normally policies are only introduced when things are already out of control." ...


Thank goodness 'Mericans are free to ruin the planet without interference.

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Sun, Dec 19, 2010
from London Daily Mail:
Sandal-wearers won't save us from global warming - but greed and the U.S. Navy will
...I was in Cancun for the talks. But as the days passed, I spent less and less time chronicling the blather of the diplomats. It was moonshine at the Moon Palace. Instead, I cruised the numerous side meetings, where experts were discussing deeds rather than words. And what I heard was staggering. People you would never suspect of being wedded to fighting climate change - rear admirals and farmers, shipping magnates and loggers - were all discussing their plans to cut their pollution and create a new low-carbon world, without the UN or any other global agreement. Because they wanted to, and because it will make them money. Many environmentalists hate them for it. They want burden-sharing and hair shirts. They insist we must all suffer to fight climate change. But the truth is we are at a tipping point where green burden-sharing gives way to green profit-seeking. ...


Whatever works, dude, whatever works.

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Wed, Dec 15, 2010
from Associated Press:
Environmentalists sue ExxonMobil over air laws
The largest oil refinery in the United States released more than 8 million pounds of illegal pollution in the past five years, violating the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by environmental groups in Texas. The lawsuit against ExxonMobil is the latest by Sierra Club and Environment Texas as part of their campaign to rein in what they call "illegal emissions" by dozens of refineries and chemical plants that operate in the Texas Gulf Coast. In recent months, the groups have reached multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlements with Shell and Chevron Phillips after filing similar suits. ExxonMobil denied the allegations and said it would fight the lawsuit... Texas has more oil refineries, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants that any other state and is the nation's leader in greenhouse gases. The state produces more than 20 percent of the nation's oil and one-third of the country's gas is refined along the Texas Gulf Coast. ...


Oil is the lifeblood of Uhmerica and it's the heart of Texas that pumps it.

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Mon, Dec 13, 2010
from Reuters:
Analysis: Next climate test: how to adapt
...Because nations are unlikely to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate change, world leaders must work out how developing nations will adapt to more severe weather predicted in coming years that will hit food and water supplies...Until now, most efforts have been on curbing greenhouse gases from factories, power plants and vehicles -- not on adapting to a changing climate of droughts, floods and a creeping rise in sea levels. The Cancun deal asks countries to submit ideas by February 21 about steps to set up an "Adaptation Committee." ...


I can get used to anything but committees.

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Mon, Dec 13, 2010
from Stanford University, via PhysOrg:
Earthshaking possibilities may limit underground storage of carbon dioxide
Storing massive amounts of carbon dioxide underground in an effort to combat global warming may not be easy to do because of the potential for triggering small- to moderate-sized earthquakes, according to Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback. While those earthquakes are unlikely to be big enough to hurt people or property, they could still cause serious problems for the reservoirs containing the gas. "It is not the shaking an earthquake causes at the surface that creates the hazard in this instance, it is what it does at depth," Zoback said. "It may not take a very big earthquake to damage the seal of an underground reservoir that has been pumped full of carbon dioxide."... The other complication, Zoback said, is that for sequestration to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the volume of gas injected into reservoirs annually would have to be almost the same as the amount of fluid now being produced by the oil and gas industry each year. This would likely require thousands of injection sites around the world. "Think about how many wells and pipelines and how much infrastructure has been developed to exploit oil and gas resources over the last hundred years," he said. "You need something of comparable scale and volume for carbon dioxide sequestration." ...


Well then, I'm sure glad we have clean coal technology that's just around the corner.

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Sat, Dec 11, 2010
from Associated Press:
UN climate meeting OKs Green Fund in new accord
A U.N. conference on Saturday adopted a modest climate deal creating a fund to help the developing world go green, though it deferred for another year the tough work of carving out deeper reductions in carbon emissions causing Earth to steadily warm. Though the accords were limited, it was the first time in three years the 193-nation conference adopted any climate action, restoring faith in the unwieldy U.N. process after the letdown a year ago at a much-anticipated summit in Copenhagen. The Cancun Agreements created institutions for delivering technology and funding to poorer countries, though they did not say where the funding would come from. ...


We developing countries dodged the bullet again!

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from Ohio State, from DesdemonaDespair:
Eminent Climate Scientist: Widespread Suffering If Climate Change Not Forestalled
One of the world's foremost experts on climate change is warning that if humans don't moderate their use of fossil fuels, there is a real possibility that we will face the environmental, societal and economic consequences of climate change faster than we can adapt to them.... It is the first time in a published paper that he has recommended specific action to forestall the growing effects of climate change. During the last three decades, Thompson has led 57 expeditions to some of the world's most remote high altitude regions to retrieve cores from glaciers and ice caps that preserve a record of ancient climate.... "Unless large numbers of people take appropriate steps, including supporting governmental regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our only options will be adaptation and suffering," he wrote in the concluding paragraph. "And the longer we delay, the more unpleasant the adaptations and the greater the suffering will be." ...


Lucky for us we have experts whose lived experience, combined with scientific expertise, means they're listened to as wise elders by those with less knowledge.

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Mon, Dec 6, 2010
from University of Guelph, via EurekAlert:
Northern wildfires threaten runaway climate change, study reveals
Climate change is causing wildfires to burn more fiercely, pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than previously thought, according to a new study to be published in Nature Geosciences this week. This is the first study to reveal that fires in the Alaskan interior - an area spanning 18.5 million hectares - have become more severe in the past 10 years, and have released much more carbon into the atmosphere than was stored by the region's forests over the same period. "When most people think of wildfires, they think about trees burning, but most of what fuels a boreal fire is plant litter, moss and organic matter in surface soils," said University of Guelph professor Merritt Turetsky, lead author of the study. "These findings are worrisome because about half the world's soil carbon is locked in northern permafrost and peatland soils. This is carbon that has accumulated in ecosystems a little bit at a time for thousands of years, but is being released very rapidly through increased burning."... "This includes longer snow-free seasons, changes in vegetation, loss of ice and permafrost, and now fire, which is shifting these systems from a global carbon sink toward a carbon source."... "Over the past 10 years, burned area has doubled in interior Alaska, mostly because of increased burning late in the fire season," said co-author Eric Kasischke, a University of Maryland professor. ...


Statistically, don't most runaways return home?

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
At climate summit, they're feeling like deserted islands
...As the 12-day [Cancun] summit moves into high gear this week, small island nations may be the noisiest critics, but they are hardly alone in their frustration that a legally binding agreement to reduce planet-heating pollutants has no chance to be concluded here. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday that the Cancun talks "won't result in anything" because no major leaders are attending. Climate negotiations in Copenhagen ended in acrimony last year, with 120 heads of state, including President Obama, in attendance. This year, except for a few leaders of smaller nations, ministers and diplomats are doing the talking. ...


So... leaders showing up doesn't work, and leaders NOT showing up doesn't work. What on earth will work?

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Daily Mail:
Jellyfish are taking over the oceans: Population surge as rising acidity of world's seas kills predators
Britain's beaches could soon be inundated with records numbers of jellyfish, marine experts warned today. Scientists say the number of jellyfish are on the rise thanks to the increasing acidity of the world's oceans. The warning comes in a new report into ocean acidification - an often overlooked side effect of burning fossil fuel.... The report, written by Dr Carol Turley of Plymouth University, said: 'Ocean acidification has also been tentatively linked to increased jellyfish numbers and changes in fish abundance.' Jellyfish are immune to the effects of acidification. As other species decline, jellyfish will move in to fill the ecological niche. Populations have boomed in the Mediterranean in recent years. Some marine scientists say the changing chemistry of the sea is to blame.... The report says acidification may push overstressed oceans into disaster with far reaching consequences the billions of people who rely on fish as their main protein source.... 'The basic chemistry of sea water is being altered on a scale unseen within fossil records over at least 20 million years,' the report said. ...


I hear Ashton Kutcher's mistress has a sex tape, and boy is he pissed!

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from Associated Press:
As climate talks drag on, more ponder techno-fixes
Like the warming atmosphere above, a once-taboo idea hangs over the slow, frustrating U.N. talks to curb climate change: the idea to tinker with the atmosphere or the planet itself, pollute the skies to ward off the sun, fill the oceans with gas-eating plankton, do whatever it takes. As climate negotiators grew more discouraged in recent months, U.S. and British government bodies urged stepped-up studies of such "geoengineering."... Schemes were floated for using aircraft, balloons or big guns to spread sulfate particles in the lower stratosphere to reflect sunlight, easing the warming scientists say is being caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by industry, vehicles and agriculture. Others suggested assembling gargantuan mirrors in orbit to fend off the solar radiation. Still others propose -- and a German experiment tried -- seeding the ocean with iron, a nutrient that would spur the spread of plankton, which absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. ...


Hey, if we can't get real work done, we might as well fire up the bong!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from Haaretz, via Perry:
Never-ending summer sends rabbis, imams, priests to pray for rain
Chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have decreed special days of fasting and prayer in response to the drought. The first of the fasts was yesterday, and the second will be on Monday. The rabbis also wrote a special prayer for rain and urged worshipers to insert it into the daily prayer service on every day when the Torah is read (Monday, Thursday and Saturday ).... "The summer is over, but we still haven't been saved by a blessed rainfall," the rabbis began the letter they sent this week to municipal and neighborhood rabbis both in Israel and abroad. "The water situation in the Land of Israel is one of great need and distress, especially because this is not the first year in which there has been a drought and the land has dried up, due to our multitude of sins. This requires us to seek out the reason. Our obligation in this situation is to examine and scrutinize our actions, to draw nearer to God with all our hearts and to pour out our supplication to him with a broken and downcast heart."... Two weeks ago, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders conducted a joint prayer for rain in the Muslim village of Wallaja. The drought has also brought a rare moment of unity among the various Orthodox Jewish sects - all of whom issued a joint call to their followers to add "Ve'anenu," a special prayer for rain and for God's mercy in general, to the Amida, the central prayer of the thrice-daily service. There has been no rain at all this month, and most forecasters expect this dearth to continue through at least the beginning of December, and possibly even all of it. The drought covers the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Western Europe, in contrast, is suffering a plethora of precipitation. ...


I often pray that prayer might be enough.

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from CBC:
2010 set to be Canada's warmest year
The year 2010 is expected to be one of the three warmest years worldwide since the collection of reliable climate data began -- and Canada's on track to record its hottest year yet. The data released Thursday by the UN's weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization, provides further evidence of a warming trend that has been seen for many years. Scientists blame a steady rise in man-made greenhouse gases, which have been building up in the atmosphere, trapping heat in. During the first 10 months of 2010, the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature was 0.55 degrees C above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14 degrees C.... The final ranking of 2010 won't be known until data from November and December are examined early next year. But measurements from the first 25 days of November suggest global temperatures continue to track record levels. "Canada had its warmest winter on record, with national temperatures 4 degrees C above the long-term average," said the WMO. "Winter temperatures were 6 degrees C or more above normal in parts of [Canada's] North." ...


Why, that's practically winter in Cancun!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from TalkingPointsMemo:
US House Republicans kill climate change committee
US President Barack Obama's Republican foes in the House of Representatives said Wednesday they were disbanding the chamber's committee on battling global warming, calling it a waste of money. Democrats immediately assailed what they branded the "very disappointing" decision to dismantle the Select Committee on Global Warming, which did not have the power to approve legislation. "We have pledged to save taxpayers' money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress," said a spokesman for Republican House speaker-designate John Boehner, Michael Steel. The committee "was a clear example, and it will not continue in the 112th Congress," he told AFP by email. A spokesman for outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, set to hand Boehner her gavel when a new US Congress convenes in January, said the panel had played an important role in the debate on climate change and energy. ...


Is it true we elect the politicians we deserve?

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Australian Great Barrier Reef not looking so great
They began the world-first experiment on a two-square-metre patch of the reef off Heron Island in May and found damage to the reef more serious than expected. They will soon remove the four experimental chambers - two simulating future carbon dioxide levels and two with control conditions. They are using more than 20 precision instruments to monitor the changing water chemistry. The experiment simulates the predicted levels of carbon emissions in 2050. Team member David Kline said the group had noted that in only eight months the part of the reef with the higher CO2 levels already looked quite different. ''What is growing there has changed, the types of algae are different and, based on our research, we would expect that the growth rate of the coral would have slowed,'' he said. ''If people's CO2 emissions continue as they have, the future of the reef is very grim. I would suggest that coral reefs will be highly altered and perturbed ecosystems by 2050 if we do not make a massive effort to curb our emissions. The findings back up much of the previous research that finds ocean acidification will have serious impacts on reefs.''... Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said scientists could use the data to predict at what point the reef would fade away. ''The corals are disappearing at a rate of 1 or 2 per cent a year ... If you multiply that by 20 years, that's 40 per cent.'' ...


A percent here, a percent there, pretty soon it adds up to real damage. Oh, hey, that might have implications elsewhere!

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Scientific American:
Worst case study: global temp up 7.2F degrees by 2060s
World temperatures could soar by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the 2060s in the worst case of global climate change and require an annual investment of $270 billion just to contain rising sea levels, studies suggested on Sunday. Such a rapid rise, within the lifetimes of many young people today, is double the 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) ceiling set by 140 governments at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last year and would disrupt food and water supplies in many parts of the globe. Rising greenhouse gas emissions this decade meant the 2 degree goal was "extremely difficult, arguably impossible, raising the likelihood of global temperature rises of 3 or 4 degrees C within this century," an international team wrote.... One of the papers gave what it called a "pragmatic estimate" that sea levels might rise by between 0.5 and 2 meters (1.64 to 6.56 feet) by 2100 if temperatures rose 4 degrees Celsius. Containing a sea level rise of 2 meters, mostly building Dutch-style sea walls, would require annual investments of up to $270 billion a year by 2100. ...


Good news, since our worst case scenarios are much worser.

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Sun, Nov 28, 2010
from London Observer:
A billion people will lose their homes due to climate change, says report
Devastating changes to sea levels, rainfall, water supplies, weather systems and crop yields are increasingly likely before the end of the century, scientists will warn tomorrow. A special report, to be released at the start of climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, will reveal that up to a billion people face losing their homes in the next 90 years because of failures to agree curbs on carbon emissions. Up to three billion people could lose access to clean water supplies because global temperatures cannot now be stopped from rising by 4C. ...


Cancun is going to be even more fun than Copenhagen!

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Thu, Nov 25, 2010
from London Daily Telegraph:
Ice core on public display in new drive to educate public on climate change
The Science Museum is the first institution in the world to put an "ice core" on display. The three foot high block of ice was drilled from beneath the Antarctic in 1989 by the British Antarctic Survey. The core was taken from almost 200ft beneath the top of the ice, where the snow was laid down in layers hundreds of years ago, trapping the air. It was brought back to England as part of efforts to try and understand the past climate and how greenhouse gases have affected temperatures...This suggests that carbon dioxide causes global warming, prompting concern that the unprecedented growth in carbon since the industrial revolution could cause catastrophic climate change. ...


I've got a wood core teaching tool, myself.

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Sun, Nov 21, 2010
from Guardian:
Global emissions of carbon dioxide drop 1.3 percent, say international scientists
Global emissions of carbon dioxide dropped by 1.3 percent in 2009 compared with the previous year, largely due to the effects of the economic crisis and an overall fall in GDP, according to an international team of scientists. The drop is smaller than the 2.8 percent fall predicted by many experts for 2009, however, because the reductions in carbon emissions per unit of GDP - a measure of efficiency called the carbon intensity - was smaller than expected in many emerging economies.... Despite the 1.3 percent overall drop, the 2009 global fossil fuel emissions - 30.8bn tons of CO2 - were the second highest in human history, just below the all-time high of 2008. The small overall decrease in global emissions masks some big regional shifts, according to the report published today in Nature Geoscience. Because the global financial crisis has mainly affected developed nations, this is where emissions dropped by the largest amounts: in the US by 6.9 percent, the UK by 8.6 percent, Germany by 7 percent, Japan by 11.8 percent, Russia by 8.4 percent and Australia by 0.4 percent. In the emerging markets, however, there were big increases: China rose by 8 percent, India by 6.2 percent and South Korea by 1.4 percent. ...


Big sale! 1.3 percent off $30 billion dollars!

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Sat, Nov 20, 2010
from TheEnergyCollective:
Oil industry insider exposé: what it took to wake some of them up on climate.
I've just read Challenged by Carbon: The Oil Industry and Climate Change, which was written by Dr. Bryan Lovell, a former senior executive at British Petroleum.... Lovell writes about how it came to be that the senior European oil executives backed Kyoto while Exxon-Mobil continued on with its denial campaign. In the process, he also shows us what he and his European counterparts believe about how dangerous climate change is. I was astonished.... The oil execs understand and believe that the amount of carbon that is being moved into the atmosphere as civilization accelerates its use of fossil fuels is going in at such a rate that the only comparable event in Earth's history is the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). They believe a recurrence of this event is not only possible but likely. They can't face being held responsible by history. The European senior oil execs, unlike their American counterparts, and perhaps only briefly, lost their nerve about the denial policy, backed Kyoto, and confronted the Americans. The science described by Lovell is why BP started its "Beyond Petroleum" campaign. The science hasn't changed. Obviously, BP has. ...


Hey, you think there'll even be any historians left? Ha! I'm safe.

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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
from New York Times:
A Call to Action on Ocean Acidity
States bordering water bodies that are becoming more acidic from the absorption of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency declared in a memo this week. Carbon dioxide emissions are considered a threat not only because of their heat-trapping properties in the atmosphere but also because of their ability to change ocean chemistry. The world's oceans act as a sponge for carbon dioxide, and as the gas dissolves in seawater, it changes into carbonic acid.... In the case of ocean acidification, such declarations could conceivably compel states or the federal government to act to limit carbon dioxide emissions. "It gives the green light to states to go ahead and assess whether their waters are being impacted by ocean acidification and designate them if they are," said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Step two would be some kind of approach to controlling the pollution that's causing the problem, which in this case would be carbon dioxide." ...


Once again those filthy liberuls are trying to save civilization's future through regulation.

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Wed, Nov 17, 2010
from Climatewire:
The 'Fate of the World' Will Soon Be in Your Hands (Virtually Speaking)
...A British game designer is launching "Fate of the World," a climate change video game giving the gamer total control of the world's energy economy -- and a bird's-eye view of what happens if he or she flips the wrong switches. In a way, a computer game is the perfect medium for the topic. Part of the reason U.S. action is so lukewarm, environmentalists have complained, is that climate's too big to grasp. Carbon dioxide is invisible, and its consequences are too far away. The likely consequences -- future floods, drought, famine -- lack a personal touch. ...


Only problem is with most video games, it's most fun when you destroy things.

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Wed, Nov 17, 2010
from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via ScienceDaily:
Earth's Lower Atmosphere Is Warming, Review of Four Decades of Scientific Literature Concludes
The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer.... The paper documents how, since the development of the very first climate models in the early 1960s, the troposphere has been projected to warm along with the Earth's surface because of the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere....This new paper extensively reviews the relevant scientific analyses -- 195 cited papers, model results and atmospheric data sets -- and finds that there is no longer evidence for a fundamental discrepancy and that the troposphere is warming. ...


We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Apocalypse.

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Tue, Nov 16, 2010
from The Daily Climate:
Feds understate the cost of climate disruption, critics contend
The Obama Administration has ignored wrenching climate impacts such as ocean acidification in its effort to estimate the cost of carbon emissions, making emissions limits disproportionately expensive, economists say... In February an inter-agency workgroup released the administration's best guess of what each ton of carbon dioxide dumped in the atmosphere costs society: $21, plus or minus, or roughly $121 billion worth of damages annually as a result of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions [pdf]... The lower the estimated cost of disruption - known as the "social cost of carbon" - the less action the Obama Administration can justify. And several economists and scientists fear that the Administration has low-balled the figure, handicapping its ability to curb emissions. ...


Somehow it seems like it's the president's job, whoever is in the position, to screw this up.

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Mon, Nov 8, 2010
from Scientific American:
Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel: study
European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday. The impact equates to an area the size of the Republic of Ireland. As a result, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, says the report. Nine environmental groups reached the conclusion after analysing official data on the European Union's goal of getting 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020. ...


Stop confusing me!

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Sat, Nov 6, 2010
from Mother Jones:
Should You Shut Down Your Computer or Put It to Sleep?
You're just about to don your coat and head out into the evening--but your computer's still on. Should you turn it off, or leave it in "sleep" mode? Some say it's better to shut down, since that way it won't be using any power while you're not around. But others say that the process of shutting down and starting up again uses more power than letting your machine sleep. Who's right?... According to energy efficiency expert Michael Bluejay, while in use, the average laptop requires 15-60 watts, while desktops use 65-250 watts, plus an additional 15-70 for the monitor. In sleep mode, however, most laptops use a measly two watts, and desktops with monitors use 5-10 watts, says Nordman.... The bottom line: Before you obsess over unplugging your computer every night, first make sure your computer is set to go into a power-saving mode after a short amount of idle time. (The EPA recommends 15 minutes for your monitor and 30 minutes for your computer.) Then, if you remember to unplug at night, give yourself an extra pat on the back. ...


I keep my monitor showing flying toasters all night long. Kinda like a night light, but with animation!

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Thu, Nov 4, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk, from DesdemonaDespair:
Earth would take 100,000 years to recover from global warming say geologists
Professor Jim Zachos, of the University of California, said that 55 million years ago volcanic activity caused around 4,500 gigatons of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere over thousands of years. This caused the planet to warm by 6C (10.8F), forcing whole ecosystems, including early mammals, to adapt, migrate or die out in certain areas. Prof Zachos said that if the world continues to pump out greenhouse gases at the current rate, around 5,000 gigatons of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere over a few hundred years. He said this will cause a more rapid temperature rise that at any other time in history and could cause "mass extinction of species". "The impacts will be pretty severe compared to 55 million years ago in terms of evolution of this planet," he said. The Geological Society warned that it could take the Earth 100,000 years to recover.... "The geological evidence from the 55 million year event and from earlier warming episodes suggests that such an addition [a massive increase in greenhouse gases caused by the activities of mankind] is likely to raise average global temperatures by at least 5 to 6C, and possibly more, and that recovery of the Earth's climate in the absence of mitigation measures could take 100,000 years or more. Numerical models of the climate system support such an interpretation. In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be." ...


Pfft. Geologists. What do they know?

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Tue, Nov 2, 2010
from Reuters:
U.S. wind power posts slowest quarter since 2007
The U.S. wind power industry had its slowest quarter since 2007 in the just-ended third quarter, as investors turned away from the sector after Congress did not pass a renewable power mandate, an industry group said. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said U.S. developers added 395 megawatts of electricity capacity at wind farms in the third quarter -- the slowest quarter since 2007. Year-to-date installations of 1,634 MW, were down 72 percent versus the same period last year. The U.S. Senate has not passed a national renewable energy mandate that would have required power utilities to generate minimum amounts of power from sources like wind and solar power. ...


At this point, 'bout all we have is breeze power.

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Sun, Oct 31, 2010
from New York Times:
Coal Industry Spending to Sway Next Congress
The coal industry, facing a host of new health and safety regulations, is spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign donations this year to influence the makeup of the next Congress in hopes of derailing what one industry official called an Obama administration "regulatory jihad."... Over the last two years, the coal industry, along with its allies in oil and gas, electric utilities, manufacturing and agriculture, effectively killed any prospects for climate change legislation in the near future. But after two major coal industry accidents, a huge spill of toxic ash in 2008 and a West Virginia mine disaster in April that killed 29 workers, the industry is bracing for new federal action that it fears will curtail operations and drive up costs. Industry officials believe they face a hostile administration that could seriously harm their business with a range of new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mountaintop removal mining, air pollution, coal ash disposal and mine safety.... "E.P.A.'s actions are firmly grounded in both the best available science and the law -- in fact, in many cases E.P.A. is operating under legal deadlines after rules from the previous administration were thrown out by the courts." ...


Corporate profit motives are clearly in society's best interests.

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Sat, Oct 30, 2010
from Reuters:
Concern Over Ocean Acidification Ramps Up Research Dollars
Mounting concerns over ocean acidification--a consequence of CO2 emissions--has accelerated research funding aimed at understanding the process potentially endangering marine life in ocean waters all across the earth. In early October, the National Science Foundation awarded over $24 million dollars to 22 projects through a new grant program targeted to study how ocean acidification affects marine environments. While the NSF has funded ocean acidification in the past, it is the first time the agency has created a special program aimed at the field of study. As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase, much of the gas is absorbed by the oceans, where it dissolves in the water. As a result, the oceans are getting more acidic over time. However, the long-term effects of the process are poorly understood. "There are serious concerns about ocean acidification, and that's why this research is being conducted," Phillip Taylor, Head of the Ocean Section in NSF's Ocean Sciences Division, told SolveClimate News. "There are many who think this is going to have an impact on important animals in the sea that are instrumental in driving the productivity of ocean waters."... Those changes may not sound like a lot, but pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, so a 0.1 difference is equivalent to a 30 percent change in acidity or alkalinity. "When you change the pH of water, it has very clear and potentially immediate affects on the physiology of organisms," Taylor said. One effect of ocean acidification is to decrease the availability of carbonate ions in the water, an important compound for organisms like corals, shellfish and foraminifera that use carbonate to build their calcium carbonate shells. These shells are part of the organisms' body structure; they provide shape, size and protection against predators. ...


Maybe research funding should be on a logarithmic scale, based on its potential for catastrophe?

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Tue, Oct 26, 2010
from Popular Science:
Detailed Simulation of Space Tourism Finds It Could Accelerate Climate Change
Last week we celebrated the dedication of Spaceport America, New Mexico's dedicated private spaceflight hub that hopes to begin launching regular flights to the edge of space sometime next year. This week we hear the other side of the story: space tourism's emissions of black carbon in the upper atmosphere could have dire consequences for climate change, increasing polar temperatures by 1.8 degrees and reducing polar sea ice by 5-15 percent. A paper publishing in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches each year would dump detrimental amounts of black carbon - the really bad kind - into the stratosphere where it could remain for up to a decade, altering global atmospheric conditions and the distribution of ozone. And because there's no weather up there to scrub the carbon away as it does commercial airline emissions, that black carbon could hang around for a while.... The models showed that all those firing rockets - 1,000 over the course of a year - would leave behind some 660 tons of black carbon annually, comparable to the emissions of the entire global aviation industry. ...


I know! We'll just have every rocket drop off a floating solar-powered black-carbon vacuum!

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Sat, Oct 16, 2010
from Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:
Majority of Americans have 'limited understanding' about climate change
Overall, we found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision-making in a democratic society.... [L]arge majorities incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions.... [T]his study finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming. ...


Those environmentalists are such know-it-alls.

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Wed, Oct 13, 2010
from Greenwire:
It's Red States vs. Blue in Legal War Over EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules
With climate legislation stalled in Congress and U.S. EPA just months away from regulating greenhouse gases for the first time, 37 states have taken sides in a court battle that could end up steering U.S. climate policy for years... The states' positions hew closely to a broader split in sentiments on climate change, said Matthew Kahn, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies the geography of climate politics. After looking over a map of the breakdown in the court battle, Kahn said the data seem to reflect what he called the "Prius factor" -- the divide between wealthier, more educated states that are sympathetic to green causes and blue-collar, more carbon-intensive states that would stand to lose the most if greenhouse gas regulations ended up imposing heavy costs on the economy. ...


Red... blue... green... what color will the Apocalypse be?

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Slowing population: Would it curb climate change?
Ever since belching smokestacks arose during the Industrial Revolution, greenhouse gases and human population have climbed in lockstep to higher and higher levels. And while scientists warn that humanity must dramatically slash future carbon-dioxide emissions to avert extended droughts, floods and other climate catastrophes, they have generally avoided a rigorous examination of how slowing population growth would help. Now, an international team of scientists has done the math. If global population were to grow by less than a billion by midcentury, instead of by more than 2 billion, as expected, it would be the equivalent of cutting as much as 29 percent of the emissions reductions needed by 2050 to keep the planet from tipping into a warmer, more dangerous zone. By the end of the century, it could cut fossil fuel pollution by 41 percent. ...


I love solutions where I don't have to actually do something!

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010
from Reuters:
SCENARIOS-Republican election impact on climate control
Republicans are poised to make big gains in the Nov. 2 congressional elections, putting them in position to reverse Democrats' drive for comprehensive climate control legislation. President Barack Obama's Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. A Republican takeover of either chamber, or even large gains by Republicans, will make it harder, or impossible, for Obama to win legislation imposing mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. ...


Mommy, why do Repubwicans hate pwanet earth?

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Mon, Oct 11, 2010
from London Independent:
Green fatigue hits campaign to reduce carbon footprint
Britons are less environmentally conscious than they were five years ago, with twice as many people now "bored" by talk of climate change as in 2005. Four in 10 take no action at all to reduce their household carbon dioxide emissions. Experts warn that green fatigue is a major reason why there are more cars on the roads, more planes in the sky and no reduction in the mountain of packaging waste. As a new energy report reveals that too few people are making an effort to reduce their household CO2 emissions, environmentalists believe the recession is further undermining public commitment. ...


For those "bored" ones, things are about to get really exciting.

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Sun, Oct 10, 2010
from Associated Press:
US, China blame each other for slow climate talks
Modest progress at U.N. climate talks Saturday was overshadowed by a continuing deadlock between China and the United States, clouding prospects for a major climate conference in Mexico in less than two months' time. Marred by an atmosphere of mistrust, negotiations have made limited headway as the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases blamed each other for holding up talks. Chief U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing said he was disappointed by the resistance of China and other developing nations to a major issue: allowing the monitoring and verification of their efforts to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.... Meanwhile his Chinese counterpart, Su Wei, hit back, charging developed countries with failing to commit to substantial reductions in carbon emissions while making unfair demands of developing nations. ...


Why don't we at least find common ground by monitoring and verifying our failures to commit.

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Sun, Oct 10, 2010
from National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily:
Too Much of a Good Thing: Human Activities Overload Ecosystems With Nitrogen
Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study. While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels. According to the study, excess nitrogen that is contributed by human activities pollutes fresh waters and coastal zones, and may contribute to climate change... Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas that has 300 times (per molecule) the warming potential of carbon dioxide. In addition, nitrogen oxide destroys stratospheric ozone, which protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. ...


It is the dawning of the Age of Nitrogen.

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Tue, Oct 5, 2010
from Climatewire:
Developing Countries Could Sue for Climate Action -- Study
A new study out says vulnerable countries could sue the United States and other industrialized nations for action on climate change. The report, published by the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), based in the United Kingdom, says small island nations and other threatened countries have the right and likely the procedural means to pursue an inter-state case before the United Nations' International Court of Justice. "Some of these countries are getting increasingly desperate," Christoph Schwarte, the paper's lead author, said. With little movement toward a new global climate change treaty, he said, many leaders are looking for ways to make the United States and others understand the threats they face from rising sea levels, droughts and storm surges. ...


Other than the fact this judicial process would probably take decades this is an outstanding idea!

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Mon, Oct 4, 2010
from Politico:
Environmental Protection Agency rules could hurt Barack Obama in 2012
President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is putting some hazardous speed bumps on his 2012 electoral road in key swing states. Controversial rules covering everything from power plants to petroleum refiners, manufacturers, coal mines and farmers could come back to haunt the White House in industrial and Midwestern states that carried Obama to the presidency two years ago. Political battlegrounds like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia that Obama won in 2008 will be watching how the EPA moves on climate change. Coal-reliant states such as Missouri -- which Obama lost by less than 1 percentage point -- will be monitoring clean air rules and coal ash standards. And farm states that Obama carried, including Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are waiting on a proposal to tighten air quality limits for microscopic soot. ...


By all means let's play it safe!

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Fri, Oct 1, 2010
from Reuters:
Analysis: Soaring Chinese Economy At Odds With Climate Goals
Just last year experts at the International Energy Agency proposed a target for China's carbon emissions to peak in 2020 before declining if the world were to be saved from devastating climate change. Too late now. Figures from energy firm BP showed earlier this year that Chinese emissions will steamroll through the Paris-based IEA's 2020 peak target next year, nearly a decade early, with no sign of slowing down. China, which hosts U.N. climate talks next week for the first time, is promoting what it calls ambitious plans to boost energy efficiency and curb emissions. But its supercharged growth means even with rapid efficiency gains it cancels out other global efforts to combat climate change. China already emits a quarter of the world's CO2, the main gas contributing to global warming, making it the world's top emitter ahead of the United States. Its emissions have more than doubled since 2000. ...


There is no stopping this bull in the china shop called earth.

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Fri, Oct 1, 2010
from Addison County Independent:
Groups gear up for global climate work day
On Sunday, Oct. 10, Bill McKibben is hosting a party, and everyone is invited. But don't expect to find finger foods or karaoke at this shindig -- party games will include building a solar panel out of soda cans, planting a community garden or even converting cars to run on vegetable oil. The "10/10/10 Global Work Party" is a way for McKibben and 350.org, the international organization devoted to solving climate crisis, to encourage people, worldwide, to get busy and get to work in their own communities on solving the global warming issue. ...


We're gettin' busy, jokin' it up at ApocaDocs. Click on the 350 logo and start quipping!

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Thu, Sep 30, 2010
from Climatewire:
Obama Promises to Push Climate Policies 'in Chunks' Next Year
President Obama's newest pledge to resume an "urgent priority" on climate change next year could mark a new direction by Democrats that veers away from the politically hazardous effort to cut the bulk of national carbon emissions in one sprawling measure... "We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation," he added. "But we're going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it's good for our national security, and, ultimately, it's good for our environment." ...


This approach makes me want to contribute my own chunks.

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Tue, Sep 28, 2010
from Associated Press:
Peabody looks to expand southern Ill. coal mine
Peabody Energy Corp. said Monday it expects to spend $175 million to expand one of its southern Illinois coal mines by 40 percent, extending by 16 years the life of a site that environmental critics believe has no business getting bigger... "We are expanding Gateway [Mine] to serve one of the fastest-growing markets in the United States," said Gregory Boyce, chairman and chief executive at Peabody, which fuels roughly one-tenth of all U.S. electricity generation and more than 2 percent worldwide. The Sierra Club's Illinois chapter worries that broadening Gateway could fan pollution of the area's water and air. But the group's Joyce Blumenshine said challenging Peabody's push beyond just a public hearing could be a David-vs.-Goliath scenario the cost-conscious agency may not be able to afford. ...


Wait a minute. Doesn't David win?

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Tue, Sep 28, 2010
from 350.org:
Philippines Kicking Off 10 Action Plans Leading Towards 10/10/10!
I [350.org's Abe Woo] just got a email update from our great organizer, Marjorie from the Philippines. Marj and her group of youth leaders are busy and getting to work now with their 10 action plans leading towards 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Here is an update of their event: It's still two weeks before 10/10/10 but the everywhere around the globe, people are already busy doing actions for the climate, not to mention the preparations for actual day of the Global Work Party. Here in the Philippines, Agham Youth initiated the build-up activity for 10/10/10 through the gREen Thumbs for the Climate. This signature campaign that will run from September 22-30 aims to raise awareness on the effects of coal on our climate. It is also designed provide information on the vast renewable energy resources of the Philippines that can be utilized to help reach 350ppm. The signatures supporting the use of carbon-free renewable energy resources in the Philippines as alternative to coal were made in the form of green thumb marks on the leaf-less trees. As the supporters increased, so did the leaves of the trees, symbolizing the rehabilitation of our environment through the organized efforts of the people to save our planet. ...


And you can join our 10/10/10 action by joking it up with us! Let's get to work/play!

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from Newcastle Herald:
Activists shut down Newcastle coal exports
Climate activists brought Newcastle's billion-dollar coal-loaders to a grinding halt yesterday, suspending themselves midair to effectively shut down the world's largest coal export operation. Police arrested 41 members of the Rising Tide group, which launched a simultaneous protest at three coal-loader sites at dawn yesterday. The group said it was staging an "emergency intervention" into the main cause of global warming in Australia. Nine protesters dressed in high-visibility work clothing, similar to employees at the loaders, breached security at the Carrington and Kooragang Island sites about 5am. Five of the group used climbing equipment to scale coal-loaders and suspend themselves in midair, unveiling banners and forcing the immediate shutdown of machinery. ...


They sound like angels!

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Sat, Sep 25, 2010
from Mail and Guardian:
South Africa is nearing peak coal, say scientists
In the case of South African coal, the studies show production has already reached its peak, or soon will. "It is commonly believed that South Africa has abundant coal reserves which will last 200 years or more,'' says Jeremy Wakeford, chair of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (Aspo) in South Africa, in the organisation's latest newsletter. "But recent research [from] three scientific journals suggests that usable reserves are much smaller than previously thought, and that annual production could reach a peak and begin to decline within a decade -- or might even have peaked already.'' Wakeford says that "given the country's overwhelming dependence on coal, this issue has huge ramifications for our future development path''. Coal provides 70 percent of the country's energy supply, supports 90 percent of electricity generation, is used to make a quarter of the country's liquid fuels using the Sasol process and is a big earner of foreign exchange through exports to foreign users.... Wakeford said that leaving aside social and environmental concerns around carbon dioxide emissions, water scarcity, pollution and health impacts, entrenching dependence on a depleting fossil fuel is taking the country down a cul-de-sac. ...


"Leaving aside the fatal consequences, shooting oneself in the head is bad economic policy."

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Wed, Sep 22, 2010
from EPOCA:
Shellfish feel the burn: damage linked to atmospheric CO2
Last week, the National Academy of Sciences released a report on research of what has been called "the other carbon problem"--ocean acidification.... The NAS report says that we're way behind in studying this problem, which wasn't even fully recognized until recently. Just how far behind we are is made clear by a paper that will be released this week by PNAS, which reveals that two species of commercially harvested shellfish are likely to already be suffering increased mortality due to ocean acidification.... The interesting twist in the new work is that the authors also run the experiment under preindustrial CO2 levels of about 250ppm (actual levels were closer to 280ppm). For both species of shellfish, the mortality was much lower and development proceded more quickly. For the quahog, viability doubled (from 20 percent to 40 percent), while for the bay scallop, viability went from 43 percent to 74 percent. The animals made major developmental milestones more quickly--metamorphosis at day 14 occurred in half the animals at preindustrial CO2 levels, but that dropped to less than seven percent at modern levels. The authors helpfully point out that they've eliminated predation in their lab conditions. If the animals were subject to being eaten, the weaker shells that form at higher CO2 levels would almost certainly increase the mortality.... According to the paper, it's actually been over 24 million years since levels are likely to have been this high, and many shellfish have diversified more recently than that; any changes in CO2 in the intervening time have also been far more gradual than the current pace. ...


This wasn't supposed to happen until long after I was dead!

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Tue, Sep 21, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
New Smog Proposals From EPA Draw Fire
A proposed crackdown on smog by the Environmental Protection Agency is fueling resistance from businesses groups concerned about costs, Republicans who say it'll be a drag on the economy--and some heartland Democrats engaged in tough election battles this fall. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has dramatically stepped up the pace and scope of regulatory activity since 2009. She has pushed sweeping rules to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, challenged coal companies over their mining practices, and questioned the methods energy companies are using to drill for natural gas. Now Ms. Jackson is proposing to redefine what constitutes unsafe levels of ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog. ...


Where there's smog... there's fire!

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Tue, Sep 14, 2010
from Washington Post:
Miniature nuclear reactors might be a safe, efficient source of power
Take a mental stroll through the streets of Anytown, U.S.A. City hall is on your left, the movie theater on your right. Smell the delights from the bakery. And in the distance, there's the gentle steam plume billowing from the cooling tower of the miniature nuclear reactor that powers the quaint little burg. Not your idea of Americana? Wait a decade or two. The government and its private partners are developing reactors that one day might power your home town. Not long ago, siting a nuclear reactor anywhere near a population center would have been unthinkable. While the 1979 Three Mile Island reactor meltdown didn't cause any deaths or injuries, it soured Americans on nuclear energy. Construction of new reactors came to an abrupt halt. The dramatic Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, meanwhile, created widespread fear that another accident could be even more disastrous. ...


Is that nuclear reactor in your pocket ... or are you happy to see me!

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Mon, Sep 13, 2010
from Carnegie Institution via ScienceDaily:
Carbon Mapping Breakthrough
By integrating satellite mapping, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys, scientists from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, with colleagues from the World Wildlife Fund and in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), have revealed the first high-resolution maps of carbon locked up in tropical forest vegetation and emitted by land-use practices. These new maps pave the way for accurate monitoring of carbon storage and emissions for the proposed United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). ...


How wonderful that we can actually watch the horror unfold!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
Area universities urged to study climate change
Adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts are about to become bigger priorities in Northwest Indiana. A committee of the region's largest planning agency, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, has taken an official stand on the issue and is calling on local universities to study the impact of climate change on health, the economy and the environment in the region. At least one university is ready to help. The committee wants NIRPC to expand its public education program and spread the word that municipalities need to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change. The committee also wants the commission to promote green infrastructure as a way to mitigate climate change. Green infrastructure is a way of using nature to filter precipitation into the ground rather than sending it to sewers. ...


They need the universities because they sure as hell won't get any help from the governor!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Glasgow Herald:
War on the car
Stricter and lower speed limits, higher parking charges and a five pence per kilometre road-pricing scheme are being proposed by the Scottish Government as part of a major new offensive to cut the pollution that is disrupting the climate. The suggestions, contained in a key policy report leaked to the Sunday Herald, are part of radical plans being drawn up to meet the ambitious target of a 42 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020. The government's new package of 30 "proposals and policies" to combat climate change has been welcomed by environmentalists. But some of the measures have already provoked the ire of the car lobby and businesses. The Association of British Drivers dismissed the curbs on cars as "lunatic". They would spark widespread anger, claimed Peter Spinney, the association's co-ordinator in Scotland. ...


Way to cut carbons!

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Acidifying Oceans Spell Bleak Marine Biological Future 'by End of Century', Mediterranean Research Finds
A unique 'natural laboratory' in the Mediterranean Sea is revealing the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on life in the oceans. The results show a bleak future for marine life as ocean acidity rises, and suggest that similar lowering of ocean pH levels may have been responsible for massive extinctions in the past.... 'A tipping point occurs at mean pH 7.8. This is the pH level predicted for the end of this century'. Rising carbon dioxide levels acidify the ocean, which has a particularly devastating effect on organisms that have calcium carbonate shells, like Foraminifera. 'Forams are well preserved in the fossil record, which is why we chose to study them', says Dr Hall-Spencer. 'We knew the results were likely to show a decline in foram diversity but we weren't expecting such a seismic shift'. ...


Ninety years ago we were in Model T's! I'm sure we'll think of something.

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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Bloomberg News:
Low prices stoke coal sales, despite pollution concerns
Coal trading is poised to rise to a record high this year as prices at less than half their 2008 peak stoke demand, defying governments' efforts to phase out the most-polluting fossil fuel. The volume of coal derivatives bought and sold around the world may jump as much as 46 percent this year to 2.3 billion metric tons, based on data from exchanges and brokers, according to Guillaume Perret, founder of Perret Associates Ltd. and a former trader at RWE AG, Germany's second-biggest utility. That would exceed the record 2.2 billion tons traded in 2007. "It's looking pretty good for coal," Kris Voorspools, director of 70Watt Capital Management, a Luxembourg hedge fund that specializes in trading spreads in energy and carbon markets, said last week. "It's the fuel for the developing world. China and India are using it to grow." ...


That sucking sound you hear is humanity's last gasp of growth.

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Mon, Aug 23, 2010
from Guardian:
Coral doctor sounds the alarm about more acidic seas
The changes he sees in ocean chemistry spell trouble for the coral that he studies closely. If the acidification process continues on its current trajectory, it poses a dire threat to the whole marine ecosystem. "What I'm really concerned about with ocean acidification is that we are facing the prospect of a crash in marine food webs." says Guinotte. "There is no question that many of my colleagues in marine science are scared about what is happening. We know we need a more precise understanding of the changes and biological responses now under way -- and we need it as quickly as possible, before it is too late to turn things around."... As carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, hydrogen ions are released. This lower the pH, making the water more acidic. Measurements indicate that Earth's oceans are already about 30 percent more acidic than they were before the industrial revolution. As the number of hydrogen ions has risen, the number of carbonate ions available in seawater has gone down. This carbonate deficit makes life more difficult for the "marine calcifiers," species such as coral and shellfish that use carbonate to build their skeletons and protective shells.... "From the standpoint of the oceans," Guinotte says, "there is no escaping the fact that we are going to need major reductions in our CO2 emissions -- something like 80 to 90 percent. When we see governments arguing about reductions of 10 to 15 percent, I think all of us in the marine science community need to say that CO2 reductions of this scale are simply not going to be sufficient. We have to get off fossil fuels." ...


CO2 reductions of 85-90 percent? Are you tripping?

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Tue, Aug 17, 2010
from Reuters:
World 2009 CO2 emissions down 1.3 percent
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 fell 1.3 percent to 31.3 billion tonnes in the first year-on-year decline in this decade, German renewable energy institute IWR said on Friday. The Muenster-based institute, which advises German ministries, cited the global economic crisis and rising investments in renewable energies for the fall in emissions.... China in 2009 was in top position with 7.43 billion tonnes after 6.81 billion in 2008, followed by the U.S. with 5.95 billion (6.37 billion 2008). Russia was in third position, just before India, and followed by Japan. Global investments in solar and wind power were helped by lower equipment costs as the crisis led to price cuts, IWR said. But it reiterated its earlier suggestions that, in order to put brakes on the rising fossil fuels usage and to stabilize global CO2, it recommends that global annual spending on renewables be quadrupled to 500 billion euros ($644.2 billion). Global CO2 emissions are still 37 percent above those in 1990, the basis year for the Kyoto Climate Protocol. ...


The margin of error was ± fried.

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Tue, Aug 17, 2010
from Huffington Post:
Biggest US Coal Power Expansion In 2 Decades
Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come. An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.... The expansion, the industry's largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats. "Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide," said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. "That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that's pretty bad public policy." ...


Why the hell would you want to slow down the economic recovery with burdensome carbon regulations?

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Wed, Aug 11, 2010
from Guardian:
Peak oil is the villain governments need
Could peak oil lever politicians out from between the rock of the electorate and the hard place that is climate change mitigation?... Climate change is a stealthy foe, hard to feel, see or identify. Unlike peak oil. So here's another question: did western administrations know that the International Energy Agency (IEA) had been consistently concealing the imminence of peak oil? One might hope our leaders would know about something as serious as this. But if they did, why is it that renewable energy replacements haven't been far higher on the agenda, for much longer and addressed with rather more conviction?... One statement by professor Paul Stevens in particular caught my eye: "A supply crunch appears likely around 2013 ... given recent price experience, a spike in excess of $200 per barrel is not infeasible". What effect would a barrel price of $200 have on industrial economies, should that spike be sustained for any length of time? We would witness endemic global market disruption, reductions in agricultural yield, increased transport costs for both finished goods and raw materials (true pessimists would add an oil war or two for good measure). The shockwaves would be felt everywhere, although as ever, the poor will take the brunt of it. And yet when the price of oil shoots up, we use less - meaning we output less CO2. So let me rephrase my question: what effect would a barrel price of $200 have on the CO2 output of nations? ...


The Alberta Tar Sands contingent would love this.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Bill McKibben, in TomDispatch:
We're Hot as Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Any More
I'm a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday School teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: this is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy.... The task at hand is keeping the planet from melting. We need everyone -- beginning with the president -- to start explaining that basic fact at every turn.... Step two, we have to ask for what we actually need, not what we calculate we might possibly be able to get. If we're going to slow global warming in the very short time available to us, then we don't actually need an incredibly complicated legislative scheme that gives door prizes to every interested industry and turns the whole operation over to Goldman Sachs to run. We need a stiff price on carbon, set by the scientific understanding that we can't still be burning black rocks a couple of decades hence.... That undoubtedly means upending the future business plans of Exxon and BP, Peabody Coal and Duke Energy, not to speak of everyone else who's made a fortune by treating the atmosphere as an open sewer for the byproducts of their main business. Instead they should pay through the nose for that sewer, and here's the crucial thing: most of the money raised in the process should be returned directly to American pockets.... Which leads to the third step in this process. If we're going to get any of this done, we're going to need a movement, the one thing we haven't had. ...


I'll give you your movement from the back end of my Hummer.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Environmental Science & Technology:
Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport
An unambiguous ranking can be established for the freight transportation of the year 2000: The specific climate impact of air transport is 3 to 42 times higher, for a light truck it is 2 to 8 times higher than average truck transport. Rail transport of heavy goods has a 4 to 10 times lower specific climate impact than trucking, while it varies from negligible to half to a similar impact for volume products. Ship transport has by far the lowest climate impact: It exerts 5 to 10 to 30 times less warming per transport work than trucking and is even cooling on shorter time scales. This ranking holds for both climate metrics and both measures for transport work; most importantly it is robust for the time horizons considered. For the passenger travel of the year 2000 the modes with clearly lower specific climate impact than car travel can be readily identified: Rail travel has at least a factor 4 lower specific impact and is cooling on shorter times, bus and coach travel has 2 to 5 times lower specific impact, while travel with two- or three-wheelers has up to a factor 2 lower specific climate impact than car travel. Air travel results in a lower temperature change per passenger-kilometer than car travel on the long run; the integrated radiative forcing of air travel is on short- to medium time horizons much higher than for car travel. Per passenger-hour traveled however, aviations climate impact is a factor 6 to 47 higher than the impact from car travel. ...


So the rule of thumb is: If driving takes 6 times longer than the air travel time, then I'm still damaging the climate more than I should.

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Sun, Aug 1, 2010
from Wired Science:
Controlling Soot Might Quickly Reverse a Century of Global Warming
"Soot has such a strong climate effect, but it has a lifetime in the atmosphere of just a few weeks. Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of 30 to 50 years. If you totally stop CO2 emissions today, the Arctic will still be totally melted," said Stanford University climate scientist Mark Jacobson. If soot pollution is immediately curtailed, "the reductions start to occur pretty much right away. Within months, you'll start seeing temperature differences."... Soot comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, and also from the burning of wood or dung for fuel. Crop residue and forest-burning are another major source. When aloft, the dark particles absorb sunlight, raising local temperatures and causing rain clouds to form, which in turn deprive other areas of moisture. When soot lands on snow or ice, its effects are magnified, because melts reveal fresh patches of heat-absorbing dark ground. In 2003, a NASA simulation blamed soot for 25 percent of the past century's observed warming. A study last year suggested that soot was responsible for almost half of a 3.4-degree Fahrenheit rise in average Arctic temperatures since 1890 -- a greater rise than anywhere else on Earth. Soot also appears to be a culprit in drastic melts of Himalayan glaciers which provide water to much of South Asia, and in disrupting the monsoon cycles on which the region's farmers rely. The United Nations puts the soot-related death toll at 1.5 million people annually. ... If soot disappeared overnight, average global temperatures would drop within 15 years by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, maybe a little more. "It's low-hanging fruit," said Jacobsen. "It's straightforward to address, and it can be addressed." ...


A soot tweet should be sent tout suite.

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Sat, Jul 31, 2010
from Wisconsin State Journal:
Glacier Park's future uncertain
The gorgeous million-acre park in northwestern Montana celebrates its 100th birthday this year. But many of its glaciers have melted, and scientists predict the rest may not last even another decade. The forests are drier and disease-ridden, leading to bigger wildfires. Climate change is forcing animals that feed off plants to adapt.... The change is visible to the naked eye, with vast moraines left behind as the giant glaciers melt away. Climate change is blamed for the increasing size and frequency of wildfires and for lower stream flows as summer progresses. What this all means for the bears, wolves and other big predators in the park is unclear, Fagre said.... Fagre said that based on geologic evidence, the park had about 150 glaciers in 1850, the end of the so-called Little Ice Age. Most would have still been around when the park was established in 1910. Only about 25 named glaciers are left, and they could be gone by 2020, Fagre said. Many experts consider Glacier Park a harbinger of Earth's future, a laboratory where changes in the environment will likely show up first.... ...


What a naming opportunity! Oilco National Park? Coalco Energy Park?

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from Reuters, via Scientific American:
EPA denies challenges to greenhouse gas rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday rejected 10 petitions challenging EPA's 2009 finding that climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and the environment. The EPA received petitions questioning the scientific basis for the so-called endangerment finding -- which cleared the way for the EPA to curb carbon dioxide emissions -- from Texas and Virginia and groups like the Ohio Coal Association.... "The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "These petitions -- based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy -- provide no evidence to undermine our determination." ...


That's denial I can get behind!

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from BusinessGreen:
Keep the coal fires burning a bit longer, says energy analyst
Britain should renegotiate its commitment to close old coal- and oil-fired power stations by 2015, so it can decarbonise generating capacity without racking up high costs for business and consumers, claims a report from energy analysts to be published next week.... The report, Realigning UK Energy Policy, states: "The recession and global energy prices have conspired to ensure that these plants are unlikely to reach their 20,000 hours running time limit by 2015, when they must close, according to current commitments. "At a time when this type of plant will be needed the most, it makes sense from both security of supply and cost perspectives to allow this flexible capacity to remain on the system, while still limiting their operations to 20,000 hours, providing some much-needed breathing space within the energy infrastructure supply chain." ...


Heck yeah! We have plenty of time!

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Tue, Jul 27, 2010
from Reuters:
Toxic fish could help Obama hit 2020 climate goal
A proposed rule on mercury, a pollutant bad for fish and the people who eat too many of them, could help the Obama administration get near its short-term climate goal -- even if Congress fails this year or next to pass a bill tackling greenhouse gases directly... The EPA has begun to take steps on regulating greenhouse gases from autos, power plants and factories. But it is the agency's looming rules on mainstream pollutants, those that can cause diseases, that may limit carbon dioxide emissions the most. ...


This is sure something to cheer about! Isn't it?

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Mon, Jul 26, 2010
from Christian Science Monitor:
Activists frustrated at Obama's environmental record
...recently, Obama and his administration have been taking flak from the left on the environment. This past week, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the US Forest Service for failing to monitor and protect endangered species and habitat in Arizona and New Mexico national forests....But it is the inability to get comprehensive energy and climate legislation that environmental advocates see as Obama's biggest failure. "Obama is the first president in history to articulate in stark terms both the why and how of the sustainable clean energy vision," writes physicist and author Joseph Romm. "But the question now is whether he really believed what he said." ...


Give it a rest, activists. With all your complaining... you'd think the world was at stake!

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Mon, Jul 26, 2010
from Scientific American:
Ancient Ocean Acidification Intimates Long Recovery from Climate Change
Of course the present era is hardly the first time the planet has seen higher levels of CO2. In fact, roughly 121 million years ago--during an age known as the early Aptian--global CO2 levels were likely higher than 800 ppm (and possibly as high as 2,000 ppm) thanks to cataclysmic volcanic eruptions. Now new research published in Science July 23 shows how ancestors of today's nannoplankton fared in those acidic oceans of long ago. It was a time of "severe global warming," paleobiologist Elisabetta Erba of the University of Milan and her colleagues wrote, after studying the carbon isotopes embedded in deep seabed cores drilled in the Pacific Ocean and locations in the ancient Tethys Ocean, which existed during the Mesozoic era. The records reveal that acidification proved a big problem for nannoplankton. "During the Aptian episode, marine calcifiers experienced a major crisis due to increasing CO2-induced acidification," Erba says. But that crisis was not a major extinction event. The nannoplankton responded by doing less shell-forming--the heaviest shell-formers, known as nannoconids, largely disappeared from the fossil record (although they did not go extinct, the same species reappear after acidification dwindles)--and by diversifying into new, smaller species. In some cases species even increased in abundance but shrank in size--by as much as 60 percent. "Malformation is also ascertained for some [widespread] species," Erba notes. It took at least 25,000 years for the new acidity levels reached in the surface waters to transfer to deeper waters, according to the research -- and the ocean took 75,000 years to reach its peak acidity for that episode, as well as at least 160,000 years to recover.... Regardless, the shells of at least one modern foraminifera in the Southern Ocean are already smaller than those of their ancestors from a mere century ago. And the modern buildup of atmospheric CO2 is happening far faster than these ancient episodes. "The current rate of ocean acidification is about a hundred times faster than the most rapid events" in the geologic past..." ...


We're even worse than volcanoes?

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Sun, Jul 25, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Researchers Calculate the Cost of CO2 Emissions, Call for Carbon Tax
Brito and Curl argue that there are three important unresolved questions in the current debate on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions: "First, what is the range of prices on carbon dioxide emissions that will be necessary to achieve the desired reductions? Second, should electrical generators and transport fuels be regulated jointly or separately? Third, should the restrictions be in the form of a quantity limit such as cap and trade or in the form of a carbon tax?"... The authors noted that the efficiency of coal generators is very concentrated. For instance, "at current prices for fuels, a carbon price of approximately $30/ metric ton (MT) will shut down 10 percent of coal generator capacity," they wrote. "An additional increase of $15 -- resulting in a carbon dioxide price of $45/MT -- will shut down 90 percent of coal generator capacity."... As a result of the risk of high volatility, the authors back a carbon tax to assist the transition from coal to natural gas. They also assert "it is possible to decouple the pricing of allocations for transportation fuel from the allocations for the production of electricity," because the rise in carbon prices needed to effect the shift in electricity generation would have very little impact on transportation fuels. ...


You'll tax my coal from my hot, dead hands.

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Sat, Jul 24, 2010
from FECYT, via EurekAlert:
CO2 reduction policies in Spain strengthen the services sector
A study by the Basque Center for Climate Change (BC3) has analysed the expected economic impact in Spain of the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) set by the Kyoto Protocol for the period 2008-2012 and for the phase afterwards or post-Kyoto phase. In addition, the services sector will come out on top in comparison to sectors such as industrial or energy sectors. "CO2 restriction policies in Spain have an impact on the economy, in other words, making it lean more towards an economy of services. The weight of the industry and energy sectors is reduced, and this is due to the fact that there is a change in production and consumption patterns resulting from CO2 which will come at a price", Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino, author of the study and researcher for BC3 explains to SINC.... "The conclusion is that if technology evolves following the current trend the best option is above all to reduce emissions rather than postpone it in time because the difference in costs is relatively insignificant. However, if technology evolves in a more radical way and in the short-term, for example, with new batteries to produce electric cars that are much cheaper than the current ones or substantial advances arise in renewable energy to replace other technology, it would be more profitable to delay the reduction of emissions. ...


So if we plan on a miracle occurring, then everything's just fine.

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Fri, Jul 23, 2010
from Reuters:
Senate climate bill in peril as Democrats delay action
The U.S. Senate on Thursday dealt a potentially fatal blow to President Barack Obama's push to curb greenhouse gas emissions, postponing its bid to pass broad legislation to combat climate change. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to bring up a narrower energy bill next week that would revamp offshore oil drilling rules in the wake of the BP oil spill. But he will put off consideration of broader legislation sought by Obama until September at the earliest. The delay means that Obama's fellow Democrats, who control Congress, have little time to advance the complex legislation amid intense political pressure in the weeks before November congressional elections. It also could derail global climate change initiatives, as the world's major economies and greenhouse gas emitters insist the United States play a leading role. ...


Sometimes I think the US should just secede from the planet.

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Thu, Jul 22, 2010
from BBC:
Climate unit's funding suspended by US DOE
Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have had funding of $200,000 suspended by the US government in a row over e-mails. The US Department of Energy (DoE) said it had not decided whether to reinstate the long-standing funding after the so-called ClimateGate affair. Climate sceptics alleged leaked e-mails undermined the integrity of UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The UEA confirmed the DoE has held off funding despite the unit being cleared.... The US DoE has been funding the climate science unit in Norwich since 1990. ...


More proof! Everything they've ever done is utterly discredited!

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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, via EurekAlert:
Researchers: EPA should recognize environmental impact of protecting foreign oil
U.S. military operations to protect oil imports coming from the Middle East are creating larger amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than once thought, new research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows. Regulators do not currently attribute these emissions to U.S. gasoline use - but they should, the authors say. UNL researchers Adam Liska and Richard Perrin estimate that emissions of heat-trapping gases resulting from military protection of supertankers in the Persian Gulf amount to 34.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year. In addition, the war in Iraq releases another 43.3 million metric tons of CO2 annually.... "Our conservative estimate of emissions from military security alone raises the greenhouse gas intensity of gasoline derived from imported Middle Eastern oil by 8 to 18 percent," said Liska, UNL assistant professor of biological systems engineering, and coordinator of the Energy Sciences minor. ...


Can't we just designate those CO2 emissions as "off budget"?

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Fri, Jul 16, 2010
from The Daily Climate:
Locking in our future
Welcome to the Anthropocene. Decisions made today about planet-warming emissions will influence climate impacts not just for decades but for centuries and perhaps even millennia, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences warned Friday. Given the longevity of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, these scientists said, these decisions effectively lock humanity in for a range of impacts, some of which can be "very severe." "Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth's climate," the scientists wrote. ...


More like the Anthro-po'folks-cene!

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010
from Seattle Times:
Puget Sound waters now more corrosive
The waters in Puget Sound's main basin are acidifying as fast as those along the Washington Coast, where wild oysters have not reproduced since 2005. And in parts of Hood Canal, home to much of the region's shellfish industry, water-chemistry problems are significantly worse than the rest of Puget Sound. Scientists from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Monday that the changing pH of the seas is hitting Puget Sound harder and faster than many other marine waters. That increasingly corrosive water -- a byproduct of carbon-dioxide releases from industries, power plants and vehicles -- is probably already harming shellfish, and over time it could reverberate through the marine food chain. ...


Plus, it will burn your swim suit right off your body!

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Sat, Jul 10, 2010
from Martinsburg Journal:
Coal advocate condemns administration
The Obama administration is as bad as any William B. "Bill" Raney has dealt with in 35 years, the president of the West Virginia Coal Association told members of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce at its Rise and Shine Breakfast Friday. "We're under attack by the Obama administration," he said. "They don't care about West Virginia - they don't care about Appalachia." Raney spoke highly of U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., for being a strong voice for coal, although he disagrees with Rockefeller's stand on so-called cap-and-trade legislation. "We don't need cap and trade," Raney said. "It will raise your power bills. Power companies will charge you all more money." ...


We care so much about Appalachia we are willing to blow it to smithereens w/ mountaintop removal.

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Wed, Jul 7, 2010
from Science News:
Ocean acidification may make fish foolhardy
Baby fish become confused and reckless in water with high levels of dissolved carbon dioxide, a new study shows. This leads to higher death rates and may mean that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, which causes ocean acidification, will reduce the number of fish in the ocean. "It shows we should be concerned with even minor changes in aquatic ecology, because it's going to have dramatic effects on the survival of fish," says Grant Brown, a freshwater behavioral ecologist at Concordia University in Montreal who was not involved in the study. "There are very fine-scale, yet extreme critical effects going on." ...


These baby fish just need better mommy fish!

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Mon, Jul 5, 2010
from Chemical and Engineering News:
Power From Entropy
During lectures, Bert Hamelers displays two photos side by side: One is of the Hoover Dam, a thundering cascade of water. The other is of the River Rhine flowing gently into the North Sea. It might not seem intuitive, but each system has comparable power-generating capacity, says Hamelers, an assistant professor at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands. The Hoover Dam already generates enormous amounts of hydroelectricity every day. Scientists could extract just as much power by harnessing the entropy created when the Rhine's fresh waters mix with salty waters, he says. In Environmental Science and Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es100852a), Hamelers and colleagues introduce a new technology to convert into electricity the entropy created when two solutions of different salt concentrations come together. ...


I always rely on entropy for my energy needs.

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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from New York Times:
As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Billions From Subsidies
an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process. According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry. And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies' returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before. ...


Seems we are both addicts AND enablers.

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from The Economist:
The other carbon-dioxide problem
The declining pH does not actually make the waters acidic (they started off mildly alkaline). But it makes them more acidic, just as turning up the light makes a dark room brighter. Ocean acidification has further chemical implications: more hydrogen ions mean more bicarbonate ions, and fewer carbonate ions. Carbonate is what corals, the shells of shellfish and the outer layers of many photosynthesising plankton and other microbes are made of. If the level of carbonate ions falls too low the shells can dissolve or might never be made at all. There is evidence that the amount of carbonate in the shells of foraminifera, micro-plankton that are crucial to ocean ecology, has recently dropped by as much as a third.... In many places, natural variations in pH will be larger than long-term changes in its mean. This is not to say that such changes have no effect. If peak acidities rather than long-term averages are what matters most, natural variability could make things worse. But it does suggest that the effects will be far from uniform.... Studies of Australia's Great Barrier Reef show that levels of calcification are down, though it is not yet possible to say changes in chemistry are a reason for this. Current research comparing chemical data taken in the 1960s and 1970s with the situation today may clarify things.... Ocean ecosystems are beset by changes in nutrient levels due to run off near the coasts and by overfishing, which plays havoc with food webs nearly everywhere. And the effects of global warming need to be included, too. Surface waters are expected to form more stable layers as the oceans warm, which will affect the availability of nutrients and, it is increasingly feared, of oxygen.... Wherever you look, there is always another other problem. ...


Whatotherr.

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Thu, Jul 1, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Switching off your lights has a bigger impact than you might think, says new study
Switching off lights, turning the television off at the mains and using cooler washing cycles could have a much bigger impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations than previously thought, according to a new study published this month in the journal Energy Policy. The study shows that the figure used by government advisors to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide saved by reducing people's electricity consumption is up to 60 percent too low. The power stations that supply electricity vary in their carbon dioxide emission rates, depending on the fuel they use: those that burn fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) have higher emissions than those driven by nuclear power and wind. In general only the fossil fuel power stations are able to respond instantly to changes in electricity demand.... The new study suggests that excluding power stations with low carbon emission rates, such as wind and nuclear power stations, and focusing on those that deal with fluctuating demand would give a more accurate emission figure. ...


So the scientists were in the dark all this time?

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Tue, Jun 29, 2010
from Prison Planet:
Rationing us to Death: The Real Green Agenda!
How quickly 'climategate' and all the other exposed lies and fraud of the 'climate change' lobby are forgotten. How quickly they try to sweep the coldest winter in 50 years under the climate change carpet. Instead they keep up the mantra that we must get used to warmer drier summers. Well, bring it on is all I can say! History shows that warmer weather leads to a world of abundance of food which could, in the right hands, help the poorest in society, particularly those in the Third World to develop their countries to Western Standards. Isn't that what we should all hope and wish for so that our fellow human beings can simply survive instead of dying of starvation when even today it's unnecessary and only brought about by corruption and despotism funded by the West, including us folks? ... It has nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 and I openly challenge anyone to show me the evidence to the contrary, including Gormley and Sweeny who continually show their utter ignorance of scientific facts and continue to promote their own fantasy fiction of manmade global warming to the gullible and quite frankly, brainwashed masses.... Are the general public, so dumbed down by the fluoride in the water that has been proven to lower IQ's in children and cause bone cancer amongst other fatal conditions that they can't see through this blatant propaganda?... We are HUMAN BEINGS being treated like DUMB ANIMALS. ...


Ain't nobody going to tell me what I can't do. And besides, I have factoids and assertion on my side.

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Thu, Jun 24, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but cheatgrass keeps on truckin'
The wildfires, he read, are more frequent - they now occur every few years instead of every few decades - and they are burning larger areas. The more intense fire cycle is fueled by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an invasive plant that is rapidly displacing native sagebrush plant communities. Schaefer, the Charles Allen Thomas Professor of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences, was intrigued. At home in St. Louis he was studying the response of soybeans to stressful growing conditions. Soybeans, frankly, were having trouble coping. What about cheatgrass, he wondered? The way it was mopping up the West suggested it might be running its metabolism differently from other plants. His hunch proved to be right. His results, published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, show that cheatgrass biochemistry is better suited to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations than soybean biochemistry. The research adds to a growing body of evidence challenging the idea that all plants will benefit from rising carbon dioxide levels. Some plants will be helped, but others will be harmed. ...


Hey, cheaters aren't supposed to win.

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from CBC:
Scientist apologizes to oilsands researchers
A scientist who works for the Alberta government has apologized to two scientists for calling their research "a lie." Dr. Preston McEachern, an environmental effects biologist who works for the government of Alberta, issued a letter of apology and retraction to Kevin Timoney, a researcher with Treeline Ecological Research, and Peter Lee, executive director with Global Forest Watch Canada. Timoney's and Lee's lawyer had contacted him after he said in a presentation at the University of Alberta in March that the two "chose to remove data" from a study about the environmental impact of the oilsands, and called their findings a "lie." "You did not lie," McEachern wrote. "You did not choose to remove data from your study. You did not actually remove data from 1985, 2003 and 2004. The statements in my presentation that you did these things were false and I regret very much that I made these statements. I unequivocally retract them."... Timoney and Lee published the study "Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence," which suggested the physical and ecological changes that result from oilsands industrial activities are detectable. One of the conclusions in the study is that the ecological and health effects of these activities deserve immediate and systematic study.... "The government of Alberta seems more concerned about the reputation of the tarsands industry than it is about learning about the destructive and dangerous impacts this industry has." ...


With such a controversial conclusion -- "more study is needed" -- it's no surprise that the tar sands industry freaked.

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Sat, Jun 19, 2010
from University of Tennessee, via EurekAlert:
Scientist links increase in greenhouse gases to changes in ocean currents
By examining 800,000-year-old polar ice, scientists increasingly are learning how the climate has changed since the last ice melt and that carbon dioxide has become more abundant in the Earth's atmosphere. For two decades, French scientist Jérôme Chappellaz has been examining ice cores collected from deep inside the polar ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. His studies on the interconnecting air spaces of old snow -- or firn air -- in the ice cores show that the roughly 40 percent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Earth's last deglaciation can be attributed in large part to changes in the circulation and biological activity of the oceanic waters surrounding Antarctica.... ...


Sweet! That means it's in large part not our fault, right?

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Fri, Jun 18, 2010
from CanWest News Service:
Carbon emissions having harmful, lasting impact on oceans: Reports
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster, but it may pale compared to what scientists say is brewing in the world's oceans due to everyday consumption of fossil fuels. The billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide sent wafting into the atmosphere each year through the burning of oil, gas and coal are profoundly affecting the oceans, says a series of reports published Friday in the journal Science... Marine scientists Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, at the University of Queensland in Australia, and John Bruno, at University of North Carolina, describe how the oceans act as a "heat sink" and are slowly heating up along with the atmosphere as greenhouse gas emissions climb. The warming, they say, is "likely to have profound influences on the strength, direction and behaviour" of major ocean currents and far-reaching impacts on sea life. ...


The surf is up a creek with a dissolving paddle.

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Mon, Jun 14, 2010
from National Geographic News:
Ecuador Puts a Price Tag on Untapped Oil
In the coming weeks, Ecuador aims to sign a unique agreement to forgo drilling for oil in a huge plot of this rain forest in exchange for money. The idea is that contributions from industrialized nations and, potentially, from corporations would make up for the badly needed petroleum revenue that the South American nation would lose by keeping the fossil fuel underground....If it comes together, some hope that the so-called YasunĂ­-ITT Initiative -- named for the area's Ishpingo, Tiputini, and Tambococha oil fields --could be a model for combating global warming. ...


And they can pay me to cheer about it!

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Mon, Jun 14, 2010
from New York Times:
Twilight of the Coal Era?
On Monday, Siemens is announcing [pdf] that it has won contracts to supply five new high-efficiency gas plants to Progress Energy at two sites in North Carolina that have old coal-fired generators. The H.F. Lee Energy Complex, near Goldsboro, has three coal-fired generators that began operating in 1951, 1952 and 1962. The three coal-fired generators at the Sutton plant, near Wilmington, went into service in 1954, 1955 and 1972. The six plants are among 11 that Progress owns in North Carolina that do not have sulfur scrubbers. The company has said it will eventually close all 11. "I think they came to the conclusion with all the uncertainty, and the likelihood that the rules for pollutants like mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides will be further tightened, it's not worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the back end" of an old power plant, Mr. Zwirn said. What is more, he said, in the decades that a new plant would run, there is a possibility that restrictions will be imposed on carbon dioxide emissions. Per kilowatt-hour generated, the new gas-fired generators will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 95 percent from levels produced by their coal-fired predecessors. Nearly 100 percent of sulfur dioxides will be eliminated, and all of the mercury, Siemens said. ...


Don't forget that Twilight is a story about undead vampires.

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Sat, Jun 12, 2010
from AFP:
World still heading for 3 degree Celsius by 2100: study
The world is careering towards three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100 despite headline-making promises to curb carbon emissions, a study released at UN talks here said on Thursday. "The current pledges and loopholes give us a virtual certainty of exceeding 1.5 C (2.7 F), with global warming very likely exceeding 2 C (3.6 F) and a more than 50-percent chance of exceeding 3 C (5.4 F) by 2100," said Bill Hare of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Around 120 countries have signed up to voluntary action on greenhouse gases under last December's Copenhagen Accord, which aims to limit warming since pre-industrial times to 2.0 C.... Scientists caution there is no consensus on what is a safe level for warming, and some say a rise of even 2.0 C could still have far-reaching risks for ice and snow cover and rainfall patterns.... Temperatures have already risen by around 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the start of the Industrial Revolution, causing worrying glacier melt, snow loss and retreating permafrost and an accelerating rise in ocean levels, according to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ...


Something tells me more than twice as much change as we've seen in less time may have some untoward consequences.

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Fri, Jun 11, 2010
from Bristol Bay Times:
Pollock show boost of bicarbonate in blood
No matter what you believe about climate change, ocean chemistry doesn't lie. Even toy store chemistry tests will show that the seas are becoming more acidic, and the off-kilter levels can have a scary impact on sea creatures: it dissolves them.... In tests on one-year old pollock at varying levels of pH, researchers at NOAA Fisheries Newport lab discovered that the fish seemed to compensate for increased [acidity] by boosting levels of bicarbonate in their blood.... "Even if they were absorbing it from sea water, that is energy they are spending on regulating pH that they are not spending on growth and reproduction and foraging," he added. "So either way there was likely an energetic cost to the fish."... The Whiskey Creek Hatchery in Oregon is a major producer of oyster spat for most of the West Coast. For the past two years, the hatchery has had almost complete loss of 10 billion oyster larvae due to acidic water flowing through the holding tanks, depending on the direction of the wind. ...


A new market! "Pollock, the pre-heartburn fish!"

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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from EPOCA:
The societal challenge of ocean acidification
[S]ince the beginning of the industrial revolution, the oceans have taken up approximately 30 percent of the CO2 produced from fossil fuel burning, cement manufacture and land use changes.... While the invasion of CO2 into the ocean removes this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and thereby dampens global warming, it forms carbonic acid in seawater and lowers ambient surface ocean pH... [It] will become more pronounced as humankind emits more CO2 into the atmosphere, with surface ocean pH expected to decline by a further 0.3 pH units by the end of the century, corresponding to an approximately 100 percent increase in ocean acidity.... Such a rapid change in ocean pH has very likely not happened since the time the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. ...


We are way good at this shit.

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Sat, May 29, 2010
from New York Times:
Not Dead, Only Resting? The Climate Bill
A popular parlor game in Washington is trying to figure out whether the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has helped or hurt chances for passage of comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. President Obama tried to bolster its prospects in his news conference on Thursday, saying the crisis highlights the need to find alternatives to the deadly and dirty fossil fuels oil and coal. ...


Games are over, dude.

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Wed, May 26, 2010
from Reuters:
Global CO2 Emissions To Rise 43 Percent By 2035: EIA
The world's emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil, and natural gas should rise 43 percent by 2035 barring global agreements to reduce output of the gases blamed for warming the planet, the top U.S. energy forecaster said on Tuesday. Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the fossil fuel sources should rise from 29.7 billion tonnes in 2007 to 42.4 billion tonnes in 2035, the Energy Information Administration said in its annual long-term energy outlook. ...


Actually... it shouldn't.

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Sun, May 16, 2010
from London Daily Mail:
After 12,000-mile flight to green meeting, there's MUTINY in the Climate Camp
A decision by a climate-change group to fly leading activists 12,000 miles to a conference threatens to tear the movement apart. The leadership of Climate Camp - which is opposed to flying and airport expansion - have been accused of hypocrisy after they sent two members on a 1,200 [pounds] round-trip to Bolivia. The leaders argued it was necessary to attend the 'transnational protest' - even though the flights generated eight tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases. Now a furious backlash against the trip threatens to split the group, which in the past has blockaded Heathrow airport and clashed with police at demonstrations against coal-fired power stations. ...


Why can't we all just get (telepathically) along?

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Tue, May 11, 2010
from Edmonton Journal (Alberta):
BP tragedy makes oilsands look good
BP's tragic oil well rupture in the Gulf of Mexico points out a cruel irony -- Canada's "dirty oil" from the Athabasca Sands now looks pretty good compared with oil from offshore drilling. For 10 years, green-leaning politicians and policy gurus have talked about the "ecological carnage of the tarsands" and targeted them as the "worst project in the world." Now the oilsands and heavy oil of Alberta and Saskatchewan are proving themselves one of the world's most stable and productive petroleum sources. It's a resource that has turned Canada overnight into the world's major new petro power.... Will this bonanza last? The only threat to the Athabasca party comes from solar technology. Current silicon cells are only 30-per-cent efficient at best, but new thin-film nanosolar technology will be up to 85-per-cent efficient and able to compete with gasoline in 10 to 15 years, eventually powering most short-haul cars and delivery vehicles. Meanwhile, we are blessed with a huge resource that will let us survive the growing threat of peak oil and reach a more sustainable future. ...


Hooray! Now it's only the second-most-hideous project in the world!

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Mon, May 10, 2010
from PNAS:
Importance of carbon dioxide physiological forcing to future climate change
An increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration influences climate both directly through its radiative effect (i.e., trapping longwave radiation) and indirectly through its physiological effect (i.e., reducing transpiration of land plants).... [R]elative humidity remains roughly constant in response to CO2-radiative forcing, whereas relative humidity over land decreases in response to CO2-physiological forcing as a result of reduced plant transpiration. Our study points to an emerging consensus that the physiological effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 on land plants will increase global warming beyond that caused by the radiative effects of CO2. ...


OMG! Even the plants are conspiring against us!

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Sun, May 9, 2010
from The Gillette News-Record:
Barrasso: Finding cleaner ways to use coal is best way to cut greenhouse gases
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., says his efforts to pass carbon capture legislation are all part of a plan to make energy as clean as possible, as fast as possible and as cheap as possible. Barrasso believes that finding cleaner ways to use coal is one of the most viable methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still meeting the energy demands that continue to grow around the world. "We need the renewables," Barrasso told The News-Record on Saturday. "But (renewable energy development) is not keeping up with the overall demand for energy." ...


The quest for the Great Albino Coal continues...

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Thu, May 6, 2010
from Enviromental Science and Technology:
Can the U.S. phase out coal's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030?
The U.S. could end its global warming emissions from coal in two decades by embracing a collection of proven and promising technologies, according to a new ES&T paper (Environ. Sci. Technol. DOI 10.1021/es903884a). Climate scientists James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha, together with Charles Kutscher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and noted architect Edward Mazria, say their paper targets coal because it is the energy source that is most responsible for accumulated fossil fuel CO2 in today's atmosphere. Kharecha and Hansen, both of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Columbia University Earth Institute, and their coauthors argue that fast action is demanded by recent revelations in the field of climate science. For example, a draft of the Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report released in mid-April says that current effects of climate change include water cycle disruptions, vanishing mountain glaciers, and extreme weather events. In the new paper, the scientists write, "The 'safe' long-term level of atmospheric greenhouse gases is much lower than has been supposed, [and CO2 concentrations are] already into the dangerous zone." ...


Sounds like we better do this ... for our grandparents!

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Sat, May 1, 2010
from London Daily Telegraph:
Gulf oil slick is a disaster for world climate deal
Could the greatest casualty of the giant oil slick surging through the Gulf of Mexico turn out to be not Louisiana's magnificent wildlife, or the biggest US fishery outside Alaska, but the last remaining chance of an international agreement to combat climate change? It seems counter-intuitive. Surely an economic and ecological disaster, caused by exploiting the fossil fuels that emit all that carbon dioxide, should make the world keener to tackle global warming by moving to cleaner sources of energy? But that would be in a rational universe - one where agreement did not depend on two increasingly dysfunctional institutions: the UN climate treaty negotiations and the US Congress. In the real world, there is no possibility of a new treaty unless Congress first passes legislation to reduce emissions from the United States. And, until the oil started gushing from the well beneath BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, the best chance of getting this through was for Capitol Hill, and the whole of the United States, to stop worrying about slicks and learn to love offshore oil drilling. ...


Don't you want to just take the US, spank 'em, and send 'em to bed without their energy.

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Fri, Apr 30, 2010
from MNN:
So long, shellfish: Oysters falling victim to ocean acidification
Could seafood fans be saying goodbye to shellfish sometime soon? Millions of oyster larvae have been dying in Northwest farms due to increasingly acidic ocean waters, which robs them of their ability to grow their shells, according to ABC News. The world's oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide than ever as greenhouse gas emissions increase on land. "The chemistry is very simple. It is 101. Carbon dioxide makes the water more acidic, that is irrefutable," said Oregon State University professor of oceanography Burke Hales. Oyster farmers Mark Wiegardt and Sue Cudd of Tilamook, Oregon's Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery called in Hales and his team when their larvae suddenly started dying. The hatchery's 8,000 gallon tanks were pumping in water from the Pacific Ocean, which turned out to be increasingly acidic. But the oysters aren't alone. Clams, mussels, lobsters, shrimp and smaller-shelled sea creatures are all forming weaker shells due to the increased ocean pH dissolving calcium carbonate, the material that allows shells to harden or calcify. "At first, scientists thought, oh, isn't this great, the ocean's taking up carbon dioxide that's resulting in less greenhouse warming. And it's only later that scientists realize this carbon dioxide in the oceans forms carbonic acid, and that attacks the shells of marine organisms," explains Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institute at Stanford University. ...


Heck, it's just the ocean. Besides, we're diluting it with melting icecaps. That'll take care of the problem, right?

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from BBC:
Australia shelves key emissions trading scheme
The Australian government has put plans for a flagship emissions trading scheme on hold until 2013 at the earliest. The move comes after the scheme was rejected twice by the Senate, where Prime Minster Kevin Rudd's government does not have a majority. Mr Rudd, who came to power promising tough climate action, blamed opposition obstruction and slow global progress on emissions cuts for the plan's delay. Australia is one of the highest per capita carbon emitters in the world.... Some lawmakers had questioned the scientific case for global warming and said that the emissions trading scheme would damage Australia's economy. ...


Enough shelves, and we'll have a library!

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Fri, Apr 23, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Report: Ocean acidification rising at unprecedented rate
With the oceans absorbing more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide an hour, a National Research Council study released Thursday found that the level of acid in the oceans is increasing at an unprecedented rate and threatening to change marine ecosystems. The council said the oceans were 30 percent more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution started roughly 200 years ago, and the oceans absorb one-third of today's carbon dioxide emissions. Unless emissions are reined in, ocean acidity could increase by 200 percent by the end of the century and even more in the next century, said James Barry, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California and one of the study's authors... Also testifying was actress Sigourney Weaver, who made passing references to her roles in "Alien" and "Avatar" while urging Congress to pass global climate change legislation. ...


She did not, however, make any reference to her role in Tadpole.

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Thu, Apr 22, 2010
from BBC:
'Paltry' Copenhagen carbon pledges point to 3 degree C rise
Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes. Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.... "There's a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2C... and the emissions reductions," said Potsdam's Malte Meinshausen. "The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious," he told BBC News. In their Nature article, the team uses stronger language, describing the pledges as "paltry".... "In an ideal world, if you pull off every possible emission reduction from the year 2021 onwards, you can still get to get to 2C if you're lucky," said Dr Meinshausen. "But it is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it." They argue that positive analyses may "lull decision-makers into a false sense of security". ...


Let's see if anti-masculine epithets get some action: they're "wimpy," "hapless," "impotent" pledges.

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Tue, Apr 20, 2010
from KTVU:
Climate Damage Confirmed To Be Serious, Extensive
Internationally respected Mbari ocean chemist Peter Brewer says 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from automobiles and fossil fuel power plants, their output equaling a million tons of carbon dioxide every hour dissolving into the ocean. "In the long term future, where there'll be a huge swath of ocean, that will be inhospitable to marine life," said Brewer. Research published Friday suggested that deep oceans are hiding heat that will likely accelerate global warming, spawn repeated El Nino's and quicken ocean catastrophes.... The net effect experts say, is greenhouse gas levels are greater now and rising faster than at any time humans have been on earth "We're putting so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the biosphere just can't catch up," said Baldocchi.... But scientists like Brewer and Baldocchi are pessimistic, saying climate change is happening too fast. "I think we're going to have these changes, I wish we didn't, we better work hard to try and undo them, but right now there's not a good path for doing that," said Brewer. "Sure we'll live, we'll survive, it just might not be a very nice world.," said Baldocchi. ...


I ain't fallin' for it. I demand a 145,322nd opinion.

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Tue, Apr 13, 2010
from Guardian:
Confidential document reveals Obama's hardline US climate talk strategy
A document accidentally left on a European hotel computer and passed to the Guardian reveals the US government's increasingly controversial strategy in the global UN climate talks.... Top of the list of objectives is to: "Reinforce the perception that the US is constructively engaged in UN negotiations in an effort to produce a global regime to combat climate change." It also talks of "managing expectations" of the outcome of the Cancun meeting and bypassing traditional media outlets by using podcasts and "intimate meetings" with the chief US negotiator to disarm the US's harsher critics. But the key phrase is in paragraph three where the author writes: "Create a clear understanding of the CA's [Copenhagen accord's] standing and the importance of operationalising ALL elements." This is the clearest signal that the US will refuse to negotiate on separate elements of the controversial accord, but intends to push it through the UN process as a single "take it or leave it" text. The accord is the last-minute agreement reached at the chaotic Copenhagen summit in December. Over 110 countries are now "associated" with the accord but it has not been adopted by the 192-nation UN climate convention. The US has denied aid to some countries that do not support the accord.... It lacks any specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and sets a temperature rise limit of 2C, which critics say is too high to prevent serious harm to Africa and other parts of the world. ...


This hard line is thin, and vanishing.

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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
from BBC:
'Slim' prospects for climate deal this year
Prospects of finalising a new binding agreement on climate change by the end of the year are "slim", according to UN climate convention chief Yvo de Boer. He was speaking at the first UN climate talks since the Copenhagen summit. A negotiating process was agreed, but big divisions remain between nations. The EU vowed to step up efforts to achieve a legally binding treaty. Analyses show pledges in Copenhagen are not likely to keep the global average temperature rise below 2C (3.6F).... Negotiators eventually decided here that there should be three more negotiating meetings between now and the Cancun summit. "It is a very involved process - it is not a sprint, it is a decathlon," noted India's delegate Vijai Sharma. ...


When I feel the hot breath of a predator on my neck, I sprint.

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Sun, Apr 11, 2010
from New York Times:
Paul Krugman: Building a Green Economy
You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard's Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance -- rather than what is most likely to happen -- should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely outcome. Weitzman argues -- and I agree -- that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible -- it's tempting to say criminally irresponsible -- not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff.... And in a more general sense, given the twists and turns of American politics in recent years -- since 2005 the conventional wisdom has gone from permanent Republican domination to permanent Democratic domination to God knows what -- there has to be a real chance that political support for action on climate change will revive. If it does, the economic analysis will be ready. We know how to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. We have a good sense of the costs -- and they're manageable. All we need now is the political will. ...


"Political will"? What's that?

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Sat, Apr 10, 2010
from London Guardian:
US denies climate aid to countries opposing Copenhagen accord
The US State Department is denying climate change assistance to countries opposing the Copenhagen accord, it emerged today. The new policy, first reported by The Washington Post, suggests the Obama administration is ready to play hardball, using aid as well as diplomacy, to bring developing countries into conformity with its efforts to reach an international deal to tackle global warming. The Post reported today that Bolivia and Ecuador would now be denied aid after both countries opposed the accord.... However, Alden Meyer, the climate change director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, warned that such a policy risked further inflaming the tensions between the industrialised world and developing countries that have been a major obstacle to getting a deal. ...


Perhaps we should send them to bed without their suppers as well!

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Fri, Apr 9, 2010
from Alaska Journal of Commerce:
Research expands to 'sister' issue of global warming
Rising temperatures and sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme weather dominate the discussion on global warming, but a parallel issue with potentially tremendous impact on Alaska's coastal waters is finally gaining attention. Increased research into ocean acidification caused by the saturation of water with carbon dioxide is the focus of Jeremy Mathis of University of Alaska Fairbanks, who stepped onto the national stage for the first time recently in a briefing to a mix of Congressmen, Senators and staffers in Washington, D.C.... A positive response from holders of the purse strings is essential to making up research ground on ocean acidification, which Mathis calls a "sister" or co-equal problem to global warming. Studies of its potential effects on the food chain are few and the lack of baseline data on ocean pH levels is a stark contrast to decades of temperature monitoring from stations positioned around the globe.... A decrease in these mineral levels to food web base species like pteropods, also known as sea butterflies, which make up 45 percent of the diet for juvenile pink salmon, can cause cascading waves of disruption up the food chain. Mathis' research shows a 10 percent decline in pteropod production can lead to a 20 percent reduction in the body weight of mature salmon.... ...


These sisters / are doing it to ourselves...

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Thu, Apr 8, 2010
from Greenwire:
Frightened, Furious Neighbors Undermine German Co2-Trapping Power Project
...The first electric utility in the world to launch a coal-fired power plant designed from the ground up to capture its carbon dioxide emissions, Vattenfall has found that building the complicated 70 million [Euros] pilot plant may have been the easy part. Finding a home for its captured gas? Now that's hard. For more than a year, the plant has been doing its job, capturing 90 percent of its CO2, the heat-trapping gas that drives global warming. Nestled in strip-mining country in eastern Germany, the plant could provide the prototype for the next generation of relatively affordable "clean" coal plants. But until Vattenfall finds a place to stash its CO2, those dreams will be as intangible as the CO2 it collects and vents every few days back into the atmosphere. Vatenfall AB, which is owned by the Swedish government, has been frustrated by boisterous local opposition to its plans to pump CO2 more than a kilometer underground into porous rock formations. ...


NIMUPRF: Not In MY Underground Porous Rock Formations

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Mon, Apr 5, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA may try to use Clean Water Act to regulate carbon dioxide
The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists. With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively. Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day. Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales. ...


Note to EPA: Use whatever means necessary.

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Sat, Apr 3, 2010
from Guardian:
South Africa is becoming a high-carbon zone to attract foreign investment
With its sky-high poverty levels and average life expectancy of just 51 years, South Africa is not a country we generally associate with extravagant binge-flying lifestyles, turbo-consumerism, and shopping trips to New York. How bizarre then that per capita carbon emissions in South Africa are now higher than in many European countries. While most South Africans are unlikely to ever own a plasma screen TV or Hummer, their carbon footprints still appear to be only slightly less than your average Japanese, and their national carbon emissions are now greater than those of France. The situation becomes more comprehensible when you look at South Africa's industrial base, with 60 percent of South Africa's electricity being guzzled by heavy industry, and most of that comes from dirty coal. Now this key global climate player wants another coal station that would pollute as much as the two dirtiest plants in Britain put together, and cause a further surge in its national emissions - and they want you to pay for it. Far from benefiting ordinary South Africans, they will also be forced into subsidising this artificially low-cost electricity, for the benefit of multinational mining companies. It's no wonder that African civil society movements are leading the opposition to this development.... That's why it's so odd that western governments, including our own, now seem determined to egg them on by making a $3.7bn (£2.4bn) World Bank loan to the South African state-owned power company Eskom to help build one of the most polluting power stations in the world. With one hand the government complains about major emerging economies not doing enough to embrace low-carbon development, while at the same time, it directs money that's meant for aid, into dirty coal developments that power the international mining industry. ...


Maybe this is the World Bank's way of saying "let's get this over with."

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Thu, Apr 1, 2010
from London Guardian:
Britain brandishes olive branch to restart global climate change talks
Britain brandished a diplomatic olive branch today as it tried to restart global climate change negotiations with an initiative to heal the rift between rich and poor countries following the failure of the Copenhagen summit. Climate secretary Ed Miliband conceded considerable ground, offering to sign a new Kyoto treaty as developing countries' demand, but while also requiring that those nations enshrine their commitments to tackling global warming in international law. Britain's unilateral move addresses the key issue that doomed Copenhagen -- that the rich accept the legally binding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions enshrined in Kyoto. ...


Note this story ran on April Fool's Day!

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Tue, Mar 30, 2010
from New York times:
Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming
Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. There is less of a consensus among meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns.... "There is a great deal of consternation among a lot of us over the readjustment of data that is going on and some of the portrayals that we are seeing," Mr. Bastardi said in a video segment posted recently on AccuWeather's Web site. Such skepticism appears to be widespread among TV forecasters, about half of whom have a degree in meteorology. A study released on Monday by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was "caused mostly by human activities."... The split between climate scientists and meteorologists is gaining attention in political and academic circles because polls show that public skepticism about global warming is increasing, and weather forecasters -- especially those on television -- dominate communications channels to the public. ...


It's simple. I just believe whoever's better-looking!

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Mon, Mar 29, 2010
from EnergyBoom.com:
Research Showing Carbon Emissions at All Time High -- And Accelerating
Data taken at at Norway's Zeppelin station on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago indicates an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere -- in spite of 2009's economic downturn, and efforts to improve global emissions. Researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute and Stockholm University -- where the aforementioned data was examined -- found carbon dioxide levels rose to a median 393.71 parts per million of the atmosphere in the first two weeks of March from 393.17 in the same period of 2009, extending years of gains. But perhaps what is most disconcerting about the information is how carbon emissions appear to be accelerating, which is surprising many.... The data "seem to show that we continue to emit as if there was no tomorrow," Kim Holmen, director of research at the Norwegian Polar Institute, said of the carbon readings. ...


Prove to me that "tomorrow" is more than a theory.

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Mon, Mar 29, 2010
from BusinessGreen:
Proposed shipping industry climate regulations left all at sea
Negotiations over how to fit shipping into any post-Kyoto climate change treaty ended in another stalemate on Friday, after the United Nations shipping agency failed to reach agreement on a proposal aimed at curbing carbon emissions from new ships.... The proposals included plans for an energy efficiency index designed to help operators assess the environmental credentials of new vessels, as well as the development of clearer fuel efficient best practices for existing and new ships. But delegates failed to reach a consensus and said more work was needed on the plans. "Development of the technical issues did not progress to a degree that the measures could be considered complete"... ...


Cap'n! Iceberg ahead! Should I take action?

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Mon, Mar 29, 2010
from Society for General Microbiology, via EurekAlert:
Ecosystems under threat from ocean acidification
Postgraduate researcher Mr Maguire, together with colleagues at Newcastle University, performed experiments in which they simulated ocean acidification as predicted by current trends of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The group found that the decrease in ocean pH (increased acidity) resulted in a sharp decline of a biogeochemically important group of bacteria known as the Marine Roseobacter clade. "This is the first time that a highly important bacterial group has been observed to decline in significant numbers with only a modest decrease in pH," said Mr Maguire. The Marine Roseobacter clade is responsible for breaking down a sulphur compound called dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) that is produced by photosynthesising plankton. This end product is taken up and used by numerous bacteria as an important source of sulphur. A fraction of DMSP is turned into Dimethylsulfide (DMS) - a naturally occurring gas that influences the Earth's climate. DMS encourages the formation of clouds which reflect solar radiation back into space leading to a cooling of the earth's surface.... "Ocean acidification will not only have large scale consequences for marine ecosystems but also socio-economical consequences due to changes in fish stocks and erosion of coral reefs," he explained. ...


Yeah, but that's decades away. Or at least years.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 25, 2010
from New Scientist:
Petropolis: Filming Canada's tar sands
Canadian media artist and filmmaker Peter Mettler aerially filmed the tar sands of Alberta, Canada from a helicopter to highlight the vast scope and impact that the industrial mining site has on the environment. The result is his new film, Petropolis, which screens tomorrow evening at the Flatpack Festival in Birmingham, UK. The mining area of the tar sands is as big as all of England and the tar sands oil production releases five times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production. As Mettler explains, getting the oil out of the tar sands uses roughly as much water as a city of two million people. Afterwards, 90 per cent of this water is so contaminated with toxic chemicals that it must be stored in tailings ponds so huge that they can be seen from outer space. ...


I'm not liking the visible hand of the marketplace.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 24, 2010
from BBC:
UN body to look at meat and climate link
UN specialists are to look again at the contribution of meat production to climate change, after claims that an earlier report exaggerated the link. A 2006 report concluded meat production was responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - more than transport.... But a new analysis, presented at a major US science meeting, says the transport comparison was flawed.... In an attempt to capture everything associated with meat production, the FAO team included contributions, for example, from transport and deforestation. By comparison, the IPCC's methodology collects all emissions from deforestation into a separate pool, whether the trees are removed for farming or for some other reason; and does the same thing for transport. This is one of the reasons why the 18 percent figure appears remarkably high to some observers. ...


Oh, I see -- transportation may be more, so meat might be somewhat less proportionally -- so bring on the BBQ!!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 22, 2010
from The Epoch Times:
Carbon Dioxide 'Domes' Over Cities Could Increase Deaths, Study
Carbon dioxide "domes" that form over cities contribute to more deaths in those areas, a new study shows. Although the total health impacts of such concentrations of CO2 are uncertain, they are of concern the study concluded. "It is estimated that local CO2 emissions may increase premature mortality by 50 to 100 per year in California and 300 to 1,000 per year in the U.S.," the study says. Conducted by a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, Mark Jacobson, it states that, "Reducing locally emitted CO2 may reduce local air pollution mortality even if CO2 in adjacent regions is not controlled." The research also highlights a gap in the carbon dioxide "cap and trade" proposal that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June last year. Current air pollution regulations worldwide are broad and do not account for local health impacts under domes. The cap and trade system also does not consider controlling local CO2 based on local health impacts. ...


This is one way to take a bite out of overpopulation!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 21, 2010
from Times Online:
Solution to a thirsty world: sea water without the salt
In the coastal town of Al Khaluf, Oman's minister for water turned on a desalination plant that will provide the area with 100 cubic metres of fresh, clean water every day -- enough for 80,000 people.... In less than 20 years, 5.3 billion people -- two-thirds of the world's population in 2025, according to UN estimates -- will face a shortage of water. London could be among those places.... Modern Water, based in Guildford, Surrey, claims its technique differs from most desalination procedures. [Most] rely on high pressure, needing huge amounts of electricity, to push salt water through an enormous filter. The company's patented "manipulated osmosis" technology uses a chemical reaction to separate the salt from the water -- a process that uses far less energy. "It reduces energy consumption by as much as 30 percent," said McDougall. ...


Seventy percent of "huge amounts" is still "very large amounts of energy" for desalination. Thankfully, we have the coal!

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Tue, Mar 16, 2010
from Stanford, via EurekAlert:
The environmental and social impact of the 'livestock revolution'
Global meat production has tripled in the past three decades and could double its present level by 2050, according to a new report on the livestock industry by an international team of scientists and policy experts. The impact of this "livestock revolution" is likely to have significant consequences for human health, the environment and the global economy, the authors conclude.... # More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the Earth's land. # Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land. # Livestock production accounts for approximately 40 percent of the global agricultural gross domestic product. # The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. ...


Gosh -- that's almost, almost enough to make me go vegetarian.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 10, 2010
from DOE, via EurekAlert:
'The Rosenfeld' unit of savings named after California's godfather of energy efficiency
"In keeping with the tradition among scientists of naming units in honor of the person most responsible for the discovery and widespread adoption of the underlying scientific principle in question," a group of scientists propose today in a refereed article in Environmental Research Letters to define the Rosenfeld as electricity savings of 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year, the amount needed to replace the annual generation of a 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant. That definition, explains lead author Jonathan Koomey, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist and consulting professor at Stanford University who was once a graduate student of Rosenfeld's, is classic Rosenfeld. "Power plants are what Art uses most often to explain to policy makers how much electricity can be saved by efficiency investments," Koomey said. ...


Take a few hundred Rosenfelds and you might be able to call me in the morning.

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Mon, Mar 8, 2010
from Indiana University, via New Scientist:
High-carbon ice age mystery solved
How come a big ice age happened when carbon dioxide levels were high? It's a question climate sceptics often ask. But sometimes the right answer is the simplest: it turns out CO2 levels were not that high after all. The Ordovician ice age happened 444 million years ago, and records have suggested that CO2 levels were relatively high then. But when Seth Young of Indiana University in Bloomington did a detailed analysis of carbon-13 levels in rocks formed at the time, the picture that emerged was very different. Young found CO2 concentrations were in fact relatively low when the ice age began. Lee Kump of Pennsylvania State University in University Park says earlier studies missed the dip because they calculated levels at 10-million-year intervals and the ice age lasted only half a million years. ...


All this so-called "science" -- I'd rather just stay entrenched in my beliefs!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say
To meet the Obama administration's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The 14 percent target was set in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget for fiscal 2010. ...


Ivy League gassholes.

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Mon, Mar 1, 2010
from Guardian:
British firms face onslaught from tar sands campaigners
British companies spearheading the drive to exploit the Canadian tar sands will come under renewed assault this week from an increasingly vocal group of shareholders and environmentalists who are planning to turn the forthcoming BP, Shell and Royal Bank of Scotland annual meetings into a referendum on these controversial operations.... There are signs the oil companies and the Canadian government are becoming increasingly concerned about the reputational damage that could be inflicted on them: a special "tar sands day of learning" was held at the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto on 1 February to bolster the confidence of fellow bankers and investors. The Co-op's investor briefing, designed to rally further opposition, warns institutional investors with highly diversified portfolios that allowing BP and Shell to pursue their costly tar sands extraction could undermine their holdings in other areas of the economy. ...


So if one of my eggs can corrode all of my baskets....

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Tue, Feb 23, 2010
from AAAS, in Mongabay:
'No change whatsoever' in scientists' conviction that climate change is occurring
"There has been no change in the scientific community, no change whatsoever" in the consensus that globally temperatures are rising, said Gerald North, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. Recent data has shown that the decade from 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record.... "The reporting on this has been truly abominable," said ocean scientist James McCarthy of Harvard in regards to the snow storms on the east coast. While media outlets, some politicians, and well-known figures -- such as business-mogul and TV personality Donald Trump -- have stated that the record snowfalls have proven climate change wrong, the science behind climate change has in fact predicted larger precipitation events due to a warmer atmosphere, and therefore increased evaporation.... The IPCC report spans thousands of pages, but has been undermined in the media, according to McCarthy, by "two sentences on glaciers". ...


I thought scientists could be convinced by groundless, passionate assertions.

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Fri, Feb 19, 2010
from Associated Press:
UN climate chief quits, leaves talks hanging
The sharp-tongued U.N. official who shepherded troubled climate talks for nearly four years announced his resignation Thursday, leaving an uncertain path to a new treaty on global warming. Exhausted and frustrated by unrelenting bickering between rich and poor countries, Yvo de Boer said he will step down July 1 to work in business and academia. With no obvious successor in sight, fears were voiced that whoever follows will be far less forceful than the skilled former civil servant from the Netherlands. His departure takes effect five months before 193 nations reconvene in Cancun, Mexico, for another attempt to reach a worldwide legal agreement on controlling greenhouse gas emissions... ...


I nominate Brangelina!

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Tue, Feb 16, 2010
from Yale 360:
An Ominous Warning on the Effects of Ocean Acidification
But when the scientists examined the sediment that had formed 55 million years ago, the color changed in a geological blink of an eye. "In the middle of this white sediment, there's this big plug of red clay," says Andy Ridgwell, an earth scientist at the University of Bristol. In other words, the vast clouds of shelled creatures in the deep oceans had virtually disappeared. Many scientists now agree that this change was caused by a drastic drop of the ocean's pH level. The seawater became so corrosive that it ate away at the shells, along with other species with calcium carbonate in their bodies. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the oceans to recover from this crisis, and for the sea floor to turn from red back to white.... Indeed, its speed and strength -- Ridgwell estimate that current ocean acidification is taking place at ten times the rate that preceded the mass extinction 55 million years ago -- may spell doom for many marine species, particularly ones that live in the deep ocean. "This is an almost unprecedented geological event," says Ridgwell. ...


Only ten times as fast as before there was even an economy? We can do better!

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Fri, Feb 12, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Chemists Create Synthetic 'Gene-Like' Crystals for Carbon Dioxide Capture
UCLA chemists report creating a synthetic "gene" that could capture heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming, rising sea levels and the increased acidity of oceans.... "We have taken organic and inorganic units and combined them into a synthetic crystal which codes information in a DNA-like manner. It is by no means as sophisticated as DNA, but it is certainly new in chemistry and materials science." The discovery could lead to cleaner energy, including technology that factories and cars can use to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere. "What we think this will be important for is potentially getting to a viable carbon dioxide-capture material with ultra-high selectivity," said Yaghi, who holds UCLA's Irving and Jean Stone Chair in Physical Sciences and is director of UCLA's Center for Reticular Chemistry. "I am optimistic that is within our reach. Potentially, we could create a material that can convert carbon dioxide into a fuel, or a material that can separate carbon dioxide with greater efficiency." ...


My potential excitement is just around the corner!

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Thu, Feb 11, 2010
from BBC:
Industrialised nations' carbon cut plans 'are pathetic'
Industrialised nations have set "pathetic" targets to reduce carbon emissions, says one of India's senior negotiators at the Copenhagen summit. One of the summit's requirements was for countries to spell out by 31 January how they would cut emissions. But industrialised nations had failed to set the "truly ambitious" targets needed, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta said.... "If you see figures that industrialised countries have submitted in response to the Copenhagen Accord, these are truly pathetic." He added: "The European Union had envisaged a reduction of from 25 percent to 30 percent from developed countries, they're nowhere near this." ...


Another spurious rumor spread by enviro-nazis.

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Wed, Feb 10, 2010
from AFP:
Climate change impact of soil underestimated: study
Finnish researchers called for a revision of climate change estimates Monday after their findings showed emissions from soil would contribute more to climate warming than previously thought. "A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil," the Finnish Environment Institute said in a statement. "The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimates," it said, adding that all climate models used soil emission estimates based on measurements received using an erroneous method.... This showed "carbon dioxide emissions from the soil will be up to 50 percent higher than those suggested by the present mainstream method," if the mean global temperature rose by the previously forecasted five degrees Celsius before the end of the century, and if the carbon flow to soil did not increase. The institute said a 100 to 200 percent increase of forest biomass was needed to offset the increasing carbon emissions from soil, whereas previous estimates called for a 70 to 80 percent increase. ...


Why don't you eggheads find some good news for a change?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 4, 2010
from PhysOrg.com:
Oceans reveal further impacts of climate change, says UAB expert
"The oceans are a sink for the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere," says McClintock, who has spent more than two decades researching the marine species off the coast of Antarctica. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by oceans, and through a chemical process hydrogen ions are released to make seawater more acidic. "Existing data points to consistently increasing oceanic acidity, and that is a direct result of increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere; it is incontrovertible," McClintock says. "The ramifications for many of the organisms that call the water home are profound."... "In addition, the increased acidity of the seawater itself can literally begin to eat away at the outer surfaces of shells of existing clams, snails and other calcified organisms, which could cause species to die outright or become vulnerable to new predators." One study McClintock recently conducted with a team of UAB researchers revealed that the shells of post-mortem Antarctic marine invertebrates evidenced erosion and significant loss of mass within only five weeks under simulated acidic conditions. McClintock says acidification also could exert a toll on the world's fisheries, including mollusks and crustaceans. He adds that the potential loss of such marine populations could greatly alter the oceans' long-standing food chains and produce negative ripple effects on human industries or food supplies over time. ...


It may be scientifically incontrovertible -- if you believe in "science."

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 3, 2010
from New York Times:
California Sets Up Statewide Network to Monitor Global-Warming Gases
California is preparing to introduce the first statewide system of monitoring devices to detect global-warming emissions, installing them on towers throughout the state. The monitoring network, which is expected to grow, will initially focus on pinpointing the sources and concentrations of methane, a potent contributor to climate change. The California plan is an early example of the kind of system that may be needed in many places as countries develop plans to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases. ...


Unless we'd rather NOT know.

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Wed, Feb 3, 2010
from Associated Press:
UN says nations' greenhouse gas pledges too little
The reduction goals announced by the nations responsible for the bulk of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are likely to fall short of what many scientists say is needed to limit the disastrous effects of climate change, a U.N. official said Monday... "It is likely, according to a number of analysts, that if we add up all those figures that were being discussed around Copenhagen, if they're all implemented, it will still be quite difficult to reach the 2 degrees," Pasztor told The Associated Press. "That is the bottom line, but you can look at it negatively and positively. The negative part is that it's not good enough," he said. "The positive side is that for the first time, we have a goal, a clear goal that we're all working toward, and we know what the commitments are. ... Before we would just talk." ...


Now that's what I call p-p-progressssh.

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Tue, Feb 2, 2010
from WWF:
New Pentagon report declares climate change and energy as key issues "shaping the future security environment"
The Pentagon released (1 February 2010), its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for 2010, stating that crafting a strategic approach to climate and energy are a priority. The QDR states, "Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked." The close relationship between conflict and environmental security has been acknowledged by scholars for decades but has attracted little attention from the security community. This QDR along with recent reports, Congressional testimony by admirals and generals alike, and the Central Intelligence Agency's launching of The Center on Climate Change and National Security signals recognition and a changing approach. ...


Let's just declare a "war on climaticide" and get cracking.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 31, 2010
from Rolling Stone:
As the World Burns
How Big Oil and Big Coal mounted one of the most aggressive lobbying campaigns in history to block progress on global warming... This was supposed to be the transformative moment on global warming, the tipping point when America proved to the world that capitalism has a conscience, that we take the fate of the planet seriously.... Over the past year, the corporations and special interests most responsible for climate change waged an all-out war to prevent Congress from cracking down on carbon pollution in time for Copenhagen...."In the long term, the fossil-fuel industry is going to lose this war," says Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "But in the short term, they are doing everything they can to delay the revolution. For them, what this fight is really about is buying precious time to maximize profits from carbon sources. It's really no more complicated than that." ...


Our guiding light should be all our children but sadly ... these are the last days of our lives.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 29, 2010
from Louisville Courier-Journal:
Kentucky greenhouse-emission growth is worst in nation, panel told
Kentucky's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the nation, according to a draft inventory prepared for state environment officials. The Center for Climate Strategies found greenhouse gases -- mainly carbon dioxide -- rose 33 percent from 1990 to 2005, compared to 16 percent for the nation. Left unchecked, emissions are projected to increase to 62 percent above 1990 levels by 2030... "it's an important issue, said Len Peters, secretary of the state's Energy and Environment Cabinet, because many thousands of jobs are at stake in the state's coal, automotive, aluminum and steel industries if electricity rates go too high. "As we go forward, we have to link energy, the economy and the environment together," he said. ...


Good luck with that.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 28, 2010
from Nature, via BBC:
Temperature and CO2 feedback loop 'weaker than thought'
The most alarming forecasts of natural systems amplifying the human-induced greenhouse effect may be too high, according to a new report. The study in Nature confirms that as the planet warms, oceans and forests will absorb proportionally less CO2. It says this will increase the effects of man-made warming -- but much less than recent research has suggested. The authors warn, though, that their research will not reduce projections of future temperature rises. Further, they say their concern about man-made climate change remains high.... The team's calculations are based on a probabilistic analysis of climate variation between the years 1050 and 1800 -- that is, before the Industrial Revolution introduced fossil carbon into the atmosphere.... "We have plenty of reason to believe that the shape of the relationship may change (be nonlinear) when we 'hit the system harder'. So, I don't think they can rule out that the positive feedback from the carbon cycle could become stronger in a significantly warmer climate." ...


A nudge is a little different than a shove.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 27, 2010
from New York Times:
Iceland Leads Environmental Index as U.S. Falls
A new ranking of the world's nations by environmental performance puts some of the globe's largest economies far down the list, with the United States sinking to 61st and China to 121st. In the previous version of the Environmental Performance Index, compiled every two years by Yale and Columbia University researchers, the United States ranked 39th, and China 105th. The top performer this year is Iceland, which gets virtually all of its power from renewable sources -- hydropower and geothermal energy. It was joined in the top tier by a cluster of European countries known for their green efforts, including Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. ...


We are so good at getting worse and worse!

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Fri, Jan 22, 2010
from New York Times:
Senators Want to Bar E.P.A. Greenhouse Gas Limits
In a direct challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency's authority, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, introduced a resolution on Thursday to prevent the agency from taking any action to regulate carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases. Ms. Murkowski, joined by 35 Republicans and three conservative Democrats, proposed to use the Congressional Review Act to strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court gave the agency legal authority to regulate such emissions in a landmark 2007 ruling. "Make no mistake," Ms. Murkowski said in a floor statement, "if Congress allows this to happen there will be severe consequences." She said businesses would be forced to close or move overseas, domestic energy production would be curtailed, housing would become more expensive and agricultural costs would rise. ...


As opposed to the no-consequence future of severe climate change....

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from New York Times:
U.N. Official Says Climate Deal Is at Risk
Just a month after world leaders fashioned a tentative and nonbinding agreement at the climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen, the deal already appears at risk of coming undone, the top United Nations climate official warned on Wednesday.... Fewer than two dozen countries have even submitted letters saying they agree to the terms of the three-page accord. And there has been virtually no progress on spelling out the terms of nearly $30 billion in short-term financial assistance promised to those countries expected to be hardest hit by climate change. Still unresolved are such basic questions as who will donate how much, where the money will go and who will oversee the spending. ...


Tentative, nonbinding, dithering, and nonexistent -- just the way we like it!

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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan
The DNA of Asian carp has been found in Lake Michigan for the first time, researchers said Tuesday, igniting a new round of calls for urgent action and renewed criticism of Illinois and the federal government for allowing the voracious carp to migrate up the state's waterways. The alarming find came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to address the carp issue, rejecting Michigan's request for an injunction to force Illinois to stop its waterways from flowing into Lake Michigan. That left the issue in the hands of federal and state officials in Illinois....the discovery may bring the region a step closer to a scenario in which the carp devastate the Great Lakes' fragile ecology and commercial fishing interests. ...


Don't they get these carp are also a metaphor?!?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Reuters:
Massachusetts vote hurts US climate bill
Republican Scott Brown's upset victory on Tuesday in the special U.S. Senate race has dealt a further blow to Democrats' drive to pass a climate control bill in 2010. Last June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a cap and trade bill that would require reductions in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next four decades. It also would allow pollution permits to be traded in a new regulated market. But the global warming bill has languished in the Senate, where some members have been trying to find a compromise. Once Brown takes office, Democrats will hold 59 of the 100 votes in the Senate and the Republicans 41. The bill needs 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles that could block passage. ...


What the hell... we have all the time in the world.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 20, 2010
from Times Online (UK):
Car giants giving false hope of emission-free future, report says
Car companies are raising false hopes of emission-free motoring in order to continue profiting from large, fuel-hungry vehicles, according to a study. Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells are not expected to be available widely until after 2050 because of the high cost of the platinum in their catalysts. Battery-powered vehicles will also remain a niche product because of their limited battery life. It urges the Government to impose higher taxes on drivers of large, inefficient vehicles and to reinvest the proceeds in better public transport and measures to encourage walking and cycling. The authors accuse car manufacturers of exaggerating the potential for switching to hydrogen or battery-powered vehicles in the next decade. ...


That's how it's done these days: being just green enough to seem green.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 17, 2010
from New York Times:
Gaining a Toehold for the E-Bike
...At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, Sanyo, the Japanese electronics maker and a major producer of car batteries, showed off a sleek, lightweight e-bike called the Eneloop Hybrid Bicycle. The Eneloop, priced at $2,300, came to stores in the United States late last year. It operates like any normal bike and, save for the black lithium-ion battery strapped to the frame beneath the seat, looks exactly like one as well. But when you press a button on the left handlebar, a 250-watt motor gently kicks in, providing about twice the power as your own pedaling — and making you feel like Lance Armstrong on even the steepest slopes. ...


In lieu of wings or jetpacks I guess this will have to do.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jan 16, 2010
from Mother Jones:
The New Storm Brewing On the Climate Front
The cap-and-trade bill may have stalled in Congress, but its opponents aren't taking it easy. They've launched a new assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- hoping to neutralize the only legal weapon the Obama administration has to curb carbon emissions if the climate legislation fails... In Congress, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has emerged as the leading -- and most canny -- threat to the EPA. Unlike many of her GOP colleagues, Murkowski acknowledges that emissions from human activity are warming the planet and must be reduced. (That her state is warming faster than most provides a good reason for her to be concerned.) And she's couching her attacks on the EPA in an argument that resonates with some Democrats and environmentalists: Legislation is a more effective way to address emissions, so the agency should back off to give Congress time to pass a law. ...


As we know, Congress is sooooo effective at all this.

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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
from University of Exeter via ScienceDaily:
Coral Can Recover from Climate Change Damage, New Research Suggests
...Scientists and environmentalists have warned that coral reefs may not be able to recover from the damage caused by climate change and that these unique environments could soon be lost forever. Now, this research adds weight to the argument that reducing levels of fishing is a viable way of protecting the world's most delicate aquatic ecosystems....The researchers conducted surveys of ten sites inside and outside marine reserves of the Bahamas over 2.5 years. These reefs have been severely damaged by bleaching and then by hurricane Frances in the summer of 2004. At the beginning of the study, the reefs had an average of 7 percent coral cover. By the end of the project, coral cover in marine protected areas had increased by an average of 19 percent, while reefs in non-reserve sites showed no recovery. ...


All we gotta do is get rid of people!

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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
from CNN:
World warming to greener train travel
Take more trains and fewer planes. That's what Sarah Kendrew pledged to herself a few years ago. An astronomer at the Netherlands' Leiden Observatory, she travels frequently to nearby countries on business -- and prefers to not leave vapor trails in the sky when doing so. "I've been making a conscious effort to take trains rather than fly," she told CNN, "for environmental reasons initially, but I've also found them to be much more comfortable and convenient -- so it's not really an effort anymore." Faced with global climate change, many around the globe -- from governments to companies to individuals -- have also warmed to train travel. Traveling by rail is on average three to 10 times less CO2-intensive compared to road or air transport, according to the UIC, a Paris-based international organization of the railway sector. ...


Especially since we never got those jetpacks we were promised!

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Sat, Jan 9, 2010
from Washington Post:
White House, EPA at Odds Over Coal-Waste Rules
Agency's Move to Designate Ash as Hazardous Is Slowed by Regulatory Czar's Assessment of Impact on Industry... The Obama administration is engaged in an unusual internal spat as the White House and Environmental Protection Agency tussle over how to handle millions of tons of waste from coal-fired power plants. Utility and environmental groups are watching the coal-ash dispute as an indicator of the administration's pliability on the regulatory front.... environmental groups are pointing to a flurry of industry meetings on the coal-ash issue as evidence that utilities and other companies are using a foothold within the White House to fight back against potentially far-reaching new rules. ...


"Pliability" meaning... we bend over & take it from the coal industry!

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Wed, Jan 6, 2010
from TIME Magazine:
Global Warming: Why Branson Wants to Step In
...at least one business leader, the British billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson, says he has heard the alarm from scientists and environmentalists about climate change, and believes that the world must not waste time shifting away from oil and other fossil fuels... So, Branson has taken it upon himself -- unsurprisingly -- to lead the charge against carbon. In 2010, he will officially launch the Carbon War Room, a corporate think tank of sorts, designed to incubate and spread the best ways to cut carbon in corporate sectors ranging from aviation to shipping to construction... Branson's operation will start by addressing carbon emissions from a significant but little-known source that is not covered by any national or international regulations: global marine shipping. ...


Maybe he could clean up those islands of plastic crap while he's at it.

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Thu, Dec 31, 2009
from Fast Company:
Pollution Dress Lights Up in Response to CO2--and It's Pretty, Too!
Talk about eco-conscious fashion. The Climate Dress, from Danish design firm Diffus, features LED lights that glow in the presence of carbon dioxide. The dress was introduced at the Bright Green expo earlier this month in Copenhagen, and features over 100 LED lights embedded into embroidery created with conductive thread. A microprocessor and CO2 sensor (here placed in the hair of the model, but could be kept anywhere in the room) allow the LEDs to visually convey the level of carbon dioxide in the space--slow pulsations when the levels are low, short and hectic when they're high. ...


But won't people know ... when I toot?

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Tue, Dec 29, 2009
from Reuters:
Brazil keeps climate targets despite failed summit
"We will fully comply with the targets. It doesn't matter that Copenhagen didn't go as well as we had hoped," Environment Minister Carlos Minc told reporters after meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva... Brazil aims to reduce its projected 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by as much 39 percent. That amounts roughly to a 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels. According to the bill Lula is expected to sign into law later on Monday, those targets will be quantifiable and verifiable. Latin America's largest country had tried to prod other developing and industrialized countries into adopting bold targets at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen earlier this month. But the meeting failed to produce a new framework agreement on climate to follow the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. ...


This is Brazilicious!

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Tue, Dec 22, 2009
from London Financial Times:
UN agrees to reform climate process
The United Nations bowed to intensifying pressure yesterday to start sweeping reforms of its processes for reaching agreement on climate change. Developed and developing countries have condemned the bureaucratic and unwieldy process of reaching unanimous agreement from 192 countries, which many blamed for the chaotic end of the Copenhagen climate change conference at the weekend... Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, led the calls for reform yesterday, saying: "What happened at Copenhagen was a flawed decision-making process." He attacked, without naming, the small group of countries that prevented the formal adoption of the accord. The group is known to include Venezuela, Bolivia and Sudan. Ed Miliband, the British climate secretary, also blamed China yesterday for the outcome, as China had vetoed two important commitments that other countries wanted left in. ...


Just so the new process includes even more blaming!

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Mon, Dec 21, 2009
from London Times:
Gordon Brown calls for new group to police global environment issues
A new global body dedicated to environmental stewardship is needed to prevent a repeat of the deadlock which undermined the Copenhagen climate change summit, Gordon Brown will say tomorrow. The UN’s consensual method of negotiation, which requires all 192 countries to reach agreement, needs to be reformed to ensure that the will of the majority prevails, he feels. The Prime Minister will say: “Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries. One of the frustrations for me was the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship..." ...


Hopefully this global body will carry big sticks.

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Mon, Dec 21, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Polluting pets: the devastating impact of man's best friend
Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle. But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers. The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year. Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car. ...


What if I figure out how to sequester carbons in my dog?

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Mon, Dec 21, 2009
from Yale University, via EurekAlert:
Global temperatures could rise more than expected, new study shows
The kinds of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide taking place today could have a significantly larger effect on global temperatures than previously thought, according to a new study led by Yale University geologists. Their findings appear December 20 in the advanced online edition of Nature Geoscience.... Their reconstructed CO2 concentrations for the past five million years was used to estimate Earth-system climate sensitivity for a fully equilibrated state of the planet, and found that a relatively small rise in CO2 levels was associated with substantial global warming 4.5 million years ago. They also found that the global temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than today while CO2 levels were only between about 365 and 415 parts per million (ppm) -- similar to today's concentration of about 386 ppm.... "Since there is no indication that the future will behave differently than the past, we should expect a couple of degrees of continued warming even if we held CO2 concentrations at the current level." ...


You mean we can learn from the past? Why didn't anyone tell me?

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Sun, Dec 20, 2009
from China Daily:
China committed to emission cut: Wen
No matter what the outcome of the UN climate change conference is, China will remain committed to achieving and even exceeding the emission reduction targets it has said for itself, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday. "We will honour our word with real action," Wen told 119 heads of state and government attending the UN climate change conference, or COP15. Before the conference began, China announced that it would reduce its carbon intensity emission per unit of GDP ... by 40 and 45 percent by 2020, taking 2005 as the base year... Stressing that this is a voluntary move taken by China, Wen said: "We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country." ...


But when, Wen ... when?

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Sun, Dec 20, 2009
from New Scientist:
Sceptical climate researcher won't divulge key program
A physicist whose work is often highlighted by climate-change sceptics is refusing to provide the software he used to other climate researchers attempting to replicate his results. Nicola Scafetta, a physicist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has published a series of papers over the past few years that suggest the sun played a much bigger role in warming over the 20th century than is generally accepted. In particular, one 2006 paper he co-authored concluded that: "The sun might have contributed approximately 50 per cent of the observed global warming since 1900" (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2006GL027142). This paper has been widely cited by those seeking to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on the cause of climate change, including US senator James Inhofe. Scafetta has also contributed to a book that claimed that "carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change". ...


Maybe the software is a just a little soft in the head.

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Sun, Dec 20, 2009
from Associated Press:
Climate reality: Voluntary efforts not enough
Around the world, countries and capitalism are already working to curb global warming on their own, with or without a global treaty.... But the impact of such piecemeal, voluntary efforts is small. Experts say it will never be enough without the kind of strong global agreement that eluded negotiators at the U.N. summit this past week in Copenhagen... Dozens of countries - including the top two carbon polluters, China and the United States - came to the climate talks with proposals to ratchet down pollution levels. But analysis by the United Nations and outside management systems experts show that those voluntary reductions will not keep temperatures from increasing by more than 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with now. ...


Let's consider putting ourselves out of our misery.

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
Acid oceans, the 'evil twin' of climate change, overlooked in climate talks
Far from Copenhagen's turbulent climate talks, the sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters reposing along the shoreline and kelp forests of this protected marine area stand to gain from any global deal to cut greenhouse gases. These foragers of the sanctuary's frigid waters, flipping in and out of sight of California's coastal kayakers, may not seem like obvious beneficiaries of a climate treaty crafted in the Danish capital. But reducing carbon emissions worldwide also would help mend a lesser-known environmental problem: ocean acidification.... Another way to think of ocean acidification is as osteoporosis of the seas... ...


Our planet has fallen ... and it can't get up!

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from Scientific American:
IEA: Energy Revolution Required to Combat Climate Change
COPENHAGEN—Revolutionizing the energy industry to achieve a target concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere of no more than 450 parts per million (ppm) would require building 17 nuclear power plants a year between now and 2030; 17,000 wind turbines a year; or two hydropower dams on the scale of Three Gorges Dam in Chin, according to the International Energy Agency. Such an effort would require an investment of $10.5 trillion during the next 20 years but would ultimately yield savings of $8.6 trillion, the IEA estimated. ...


Let's not forget to factor in a massive plague and the colonization of Mars!

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
UN document shows Copenhagen summit falling short
COPENHAGEN — Carbon emissions cuts pledged at U.N. climate talks would put the world on "an unsustainable pathway" toward average global warming 50 percent higher than industrial countries want, a confidential U.N. draft document showed Thursday... Scientists say such rises in average temperatures could lead to catastrophic sea level rises, which would threaten islands and coastal cities, kill off many species of animals and plants, and alter the agricultural economies of many countries. ...




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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from New Scientist:
Battle for climate data approaches tipping point
It reached a peak earlier this year, when the UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) turned down freedom of information (FOI) requests for its temperature records. Last week, the UK's Met Office attempted to quell the growing anger at its lack of openness by "releasing" data from 1700 weather stations around the world. The move was a token gesture. The Met Office has admitted to New Scientist that those figures were already publicly available through the World Meteorological Organization.... What they have not yet publicly revealed is that under a confidentiality agreement between the Met Office and the UK's Natural Environment Research Council, a portion of the UK's own temperature measurements is only made available to "bona fide academic researchers working on agreed NERC-endorsed scientific programmes". Why? So that the data can be sold privately. "We have to offset our costs for the benefit of the taxpayer, so we balance that against freedom of access," says David Britton, a spokesman for the Met Office. ...


Thank goodness the idea of conspiracy is far-fetched!

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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from New York Times:
Climate Talks Near Deal to Save Forests
COPENHAGEN -- Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests, and in some cases, other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change. Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, is estimated to account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The agreement for the program, if signed as expected, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions. ...


Can I please get paid to not weed my garden?

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Mon, Dec 14, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Walk out throws Copenhagen into crisis
The G77 group of developing nations has reportedly staged a mass walk out at the Copenhagen Summit this morning, accusing rich nations of trying to ditch the Kyoto Protocol. After several days of escalating tensions over perceived efforts by industrialised countries to replace Kyoto with a new deal, a group of African nations this morning led a boycott of the summit's main session. The move immediately secured the backing of the G77 group of 130 developing nations. The group has said it will not continue negotiations until talks about extending Kyoto are given priority over the wider discussions on a new deal.... Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told Reuters that the walk out was "regrettable", but insisted that it was "a walk out over process and form, not a walk out over substance". ...


I think it was a walkout about not walking the walk.

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Sun, Dec 13, 2009
from 350.org:
The movement is glowing
From Bill McKibben: "It's been a remarkable day for those of us here in Copenhagen, but mostly not because of anything happening at the climate conference. Instead it's because of what you all did out in the rest of the world over the last 24 hours. We don't have a full count of vigils around the world, but in something like 3,000 cities and towns across the planet your vigils sent the most powerful of messages to the leaders here: stop playing games, and start protecting the planet. Here in Copenhagen, there were more than 100,000 people marching in the streets--99 percent of them peaceful and dignified--to call for climate solutions bold enough to meet the scale of the crisis. As the sun set on this city, thousands lit candles to stand in solidarity with those on the front lines of climate change--a moving and unprecedented moment in this movement. ...


The carbon footprint of a candle is small, but its light is mighty!

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Fri, Dec 11, 2009
from Bloomberg News:
Fishermen Say Carbon Dioxide Having 'Really Scary' Ocean Effect
Jeremy Brown, a fisherman from the Pacific Northwest, is pulling things from the ocean he says are so disturbing that he came to Washington to warn U.S. lawmakers about it.... the ocean is becoming more acidic because of carbon-dioxide emissions that are damaging coral reefs, decimating populations of tiny animals at the base of the food chain and eating away at the shells of clams, mussels and oysters. "Every so often we snag a piece of coral on the gear," Brown, of Bellingham, Washington, said in an interview. "It doesn't look healthy, the color has gone out of it. The evidence is that we have instabilities in the system, and this last year was really scary."...Small snails and other tiny animals at the base of the food chain are disappearing at alarming rates, jeopardizing the health of pink salmon and other fish that feed on them... ...


When the fishermen are scared, I'm hooked!

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Fri, Dec 11, 2009
from National Geographic News:
2000-2010: A Decade of (Climate) Change
A decade ago, global climate change was largely considered a problem for the distant future. But it seems that future has come sooner than predicted. ...In 1997, a study published in the journal Nature tallied the value of 17 services provided by the environment, including water purification through wetlands, pollination, and recreation. The total was estimated at U.S. $33 trillion. The findings were largely ignored by policy makers, according to Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who wrote an accompanying perspective piece on the study. Here we are just over a decade later and people are talking about tens of billions of dollars in financing to help developing countries do things like reduce carbon emissions from deforestation, he said. To me, that's the story of the decade, added Pimm... ...


Has this guy never heard of Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, etc.? Get a life, loser!

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Fri, Dec 11, 2009
from USGS:
Climate projections underestimate CO2 impact
The climate may be 30-50 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long term than previously thought, according to a recent study published in Nature Geoscience. Projections over the next hundreds of years of climate conditions, including global temperatures, may need to be adjusted to reflect this higher sensitivity.... These underestimates occurred because the long-term sensitivity of the Earth system was not accurately taken into account. In these earlier periods, Earth had more time to adjust to some of the slower impacts of climate change. For example, as the climate warms and ice sheets melt, Earth will absorb more sunlight and continue to warm in the future since less ice is present to reflect the sun. ...


Thank goodness we're talking about the long term. It won't affect me!

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Tue, Dec 8, 2009
from London Guardian:
Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after 'Danish text' leak
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations. The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals....The document was described last night by one senior diplomat as "a very dangerous document for developing countries. It is a fundamental reworking of the UN balance of obligations. It is to be superimposed without discussion on the talks". ...


Hey you developing countries, emitting carbons just... just ain't that much fun. Really it ain't. Really.

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Tue, Dec 8, 2009
from Associated Press:
Historic climate debate opens, with boost from US
The United States delivered a welcome boost Monday to a pivotal climate conference by saying greenhouse gases blamed for global warming should be regulated as a health hazard... Such regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would supplement the cap on carbon dioxide emissions being considered in the U.S. Congress, effectively raising the U.S. offer on emissions reductions in two weeks of hard bargaining in Copenhagen. "The executive branch is showing what it can do, even while legislation is pending," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. scientific network on climate change, said of the EPA action. "It also sends a powerful signal to Congress. It shows a degree of resolve on the part of the president." ...


"A degree" may not be enough...

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Tue, Dec 8, 2009
from London Guardian:
Naomi Klein kick-starts the activism at Copenhagen with call for disobedience
The Copenhagen deal may turn into the worst kind of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein said last night. In her speech to Klimaforum09, the "people's summit" she told the thousand or so campaigners and activists that this was a chance to carry on building the new convergence, the movement of movements that began "all those years ago in Seattle, fighting against the privatisation of life itself". Here was an opportunity to "continue the conversation that was so rudely interrupted by 9/11". "Down the road at the Bella Centre [where delegates are meeting] there is the worst case of disaster capitalism that we have ever witnessed. We know that what is being proposed in the Bella Centre doesn't even come close to the deal that is needed. We know the paltry emissions cuts that Obama has proposed; they're insulting. We're the ones who created this crisis... on the basic historical principle of polluters pays, we should pay." ...


Easy for her to say, she's Canadian...

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Tue, Dec 8, 2009
from London Guardian:
Copenhagen climate change conference: 'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'
Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency. Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted... We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. ...


We call on these leaders: to wo/man up!

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Mon, Dec 7, 2009
from Scientific American:
Lightweight 'triple-zero' house produces more energy than it uses
Overlooking the city of Stuttgart in southern Germany, a four-story modern glass house stands like a beacon of environmental sustainability. Built in 2000, it was the first in a series of buildings that are "triple-zero," a concept developed by German architect and engineer Werner Sobek, which signifies that the building is energy self-sufficient (zero energy consumed), produces zero emissions, and is made entirely of recyclable materials (zero waste). Since the construction of the first triple-zero home, Werner Sobek's firm of engineers and architects, based in Stuttgart, has designed and built five more in Germany, with a seventh planned in France. The energy used by these buildings, including the four-story tower where Sobek resides, comes from solar cells and geothermal heating. The most recent addition to the triple-zero series raises the bar for energy efficiency: It produces more energy than it uses... ...


If only the people inside would stop their ... personal emissions.

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Mon, Dec 7, 2009
from University of Bristol, via EurekAlert:
Earth more sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously thought
In the long term, the Earth's temperature may be 30-50 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated, reports a new study published in Nature Geoscience this week. The results show that components of the Earth's climate system that vary over long timescales -- such as land-ice and vegetation -- have an important effect on this temperature sensitivity, but these factors are often neglected in current climate models.... Lunt said, "We found that, given the concentrations of carbon dioxide prevailing three million years ago, the model originally predicted a significantly smaller temperature increase than that indicated by the reconstructions. This led us to review what was missing from the model." ...


All this time I thought I could slap the atmosphere around. Now I find out it's sensitive.

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Thu, Dec 3, 2009
from Washington Post:
As emissions increase, carbon 'sinks' get clogged
In the race to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists have been looking to forests and oceans to absorb the pollution people generate. Relying on nature to compensate for human excesses sounds like a win-win situation -- except that these resources are under stress from the very emissions we are asking them to absorb, making them less able partners in the pact...a global society of conservation biologists has launched a lobbying campaign, asking key decision-makers -- from the Danish officials chairing next week's climate talks in Copenhagen to U.S. lawmakers -- to push for steeper emission cuts to ensure that humans do not exhaust forests' capacity to store carbon in the decades to come. ...


Man up!, natural resources!

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Thu, Dec 3, 2009
from New Scientist:
Antarctica was climate refuge during Permian extinction
The cool climate of Antarctica was a refuge for animals fleeing climate change during the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history, suggests a new fossil study. The discovery may have implications for how modern animals will adapt to global warming. Around 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, about 90 per cent of land species were wiped out as global temperatures soared. A cat-sized distant relative of mammals, Kombuisia antarctica, seems to have survived the extinction by fleeing south to Antarctica.... It is still not certain what caused the end-Permian global warming and subsequent mass extinctions, but a leading theory is that massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia poured carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, driving temperatures up dramatically worldwide and forcing many species into extinction. ...


Antarctica: the last refuge.

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Thu, Dec 3, 2009
from FECYT, via EurekAlert:
CO2 levels rising in troposphere over rural areas
Spanish researchers have measured CO2 levels for the past three years in the troposphere (lower atmosphere) over a sparsely inhabited rural area near Valladolid. The results, which are the first of their kind in the Iberian Peninsula, show that the levels rose "significantly" between 2002 and 2005. Over recent years, physicists and meteorologists have been trying to find out about carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, and how these have evolved in the troposphere over various urban and rural areas around the planet. Now a scientific team from the University of Valladolid (UVA) has published the first -- and to date the only -- measurements for the Iberian Peninsula.... The study... shows that CO2 levels increased by 8 ppm (parts per million) between 2002 and 2005. A broader study has led the researchers to predict "an annual increase of 3 ppm" in the study area. ...


Rural tropospheres -- they're just a theory, right?

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Wed, Dec 2, 2009
from Reuters:
Dying to be green? Try 'bio-cremation'
...A standard cremation spews into the air about 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of carbon dioxide -- a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming -- along with other pollutants like dioxins and mercury vapor if the deceased had silver tooth fillings. On top of that each cremation guzzles as much energy, in the form of natural gas and electricity, as a 500-mile (800 kilometer) car trip. Enter alkaline hydrolysis, a chemical body-disposal process its proponents call "bio-cremation" and say uses one-tenth the natural gas of fire-based cremation and one-third the electricity. C02 emissions are cut by almost 90 percent and no mercury escapes as fillings and other metal objects, such as hip or knee replacements, can be recovered intact and recycled. ...


The greenest thing is not to be conceived in the first place.

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Wed, Dec 2, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Copenhagen climate summit: 50/50 chance of stopping catastrophe, Lord Stern says
An ambitious deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions needs to be agreed at the Copenhagen climate summit to give a 50/50 chance of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2C, Lord Stern has said. But failure to secure a new agreement could put the world at risk of temperature rises of more than 5C - a change in climate which he said "could only be described as catastrophic." ...


Why don't we just flip a coin instead?

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Wed, Dec 2, 2009
from SolveClimate:
Increasing Ocean Acidification Is Tipping Fragile Balances within Marine Ecosystems
Falling pH levels are particularly harmful for calcifying organisms such as coral and shellfish, which have a harder time building and maintaining their calcium-based exteriors as the ocean grows more acidic.... In fact, some ocean researchers fear that acidification will obliterate Earth's coral reefs in as few as 50 years. That's why they have begun to design cryogenically cooled coral preservation "arks" where polyps can be stored to stave off total extinction.... Corals aren't the only species likely to be affected by the ongoing acidification of the world's oceans. According to marine ecologist Joanie Kleypas, ocean acidification could affect ocean life forms ranging from tiny algae to giant whales in unpredictable ways.... Damage to populations of the tiniest plants and creatures, whether through rising water temperature, greater acidity or loss of habitat, can spread through an entire food chain, throwing it out of balance. Consider, for example, the tiny pterapod, a marine snail whose shell is affected by changing pH. The pterapod is an important food source for young salmon, mackerel, herring and cod, which are important food sources for larger animals and economic sources for humans. ...


This is pterrible!

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Tue, Dec 1, 2009
from Reuters:
World carbon emissions overshoot "budget": PwC
OSLO (Reuters) - The world has emitted extra greenhouse gases this century equivalent to the annual totals of China and the United States above a maximum for avoiding the worst of climate change, a study estimated on Tuesday. Global accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in the report that almost all major nations, including European Union countries that pride themselves on climate policies, were lagging since 2000 in a push for low-carbon growth.... "If you stay on this path the entire carbon budget will be used by about 2034, about 16 years early," John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC, told Reuters of the report, based on a new PwC Low Carbon Economy Index. ...


Accountants: the new warriors in the fight to save the habitat!

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Mon, Nov 30, 2009
from New York Times:
Intrigue and Plot Twists in Global Climate Talks
In the otherwise ponderous and unhurried context of global climate negotiations, the past two weeks have seen a variety of gripping twists. It started this month in Singapore, where Barack Obama, the U.S. president, and other leaders used the sidelines of an economic forum to deflate expectations for a treaty at the December climate summit meeting in Copenhagen... Those rooting for a climate pact at Copenhagen were left to mull over the meeting's shrinking significance until -- twist! -- computer hackers turned the global climate conversation on its head with a trove of spicy e-mail messages. ...


With the amount of sex available in Copenhagen, the spiciness has only begun.

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Thu, Nov 26, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Climate change to cost trillions, say economists
Estimates vary widely on the costs of damage from climate change, easing these impacts and taming the carbon gas stoking the problem, but economists agree the bill is likely to be in the trillions of dollars. Figures depend on different forecasts for greenhouse-gas emissions and the timeline for reaching them. In addition, key variables remain sketchy. How will rainfall, snowfall, storm frequency and ocean levels look a few decades from now? How will they affect a specific country or region? And how fast will nations introduce low-carbon technologies, carbon taxes and other policies that alter energy use? Despite these uncertainties, economists share a broad consensus: climate change will ultimately cost thousands of billions of dollars, a tab that keeps rising as more carbon enters the atmosphere. ...


And what's the APR (compounded) on that?

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Tue, Nov 24, 2009
from Science Daily:
Is Global Warming Unstoppable?
In a provocative new study, a University of Utah scientist argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions -- the major cause of global warming -- cannot be stabilized unless the world's economy collapses or society builds the equivalent of one new nuclear power plant each day.... "Stabilization of carbon dioxide emissions at current rates will require approximately 300 gigawatts of new non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power production capacity annually -- approximately one new nuclear power plant (or equivalent) per day," Garrett says. "Physically, there are no other options without killing the economy."... That "constant" is 9.7 (plus or minus 0.3) milliwatts per inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar. So if you look at economic and energy production at any specific time in history, "each inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar would be supported by 9.7 milliwatts of primary energy consumption," Garrett says. Garrett tested his theory and found this constant relationship between energy use and economic production at any given time by using United Nations statistics for global GDP (gross domestic product), U.S. Department of Energy data on global energy consumption during 1970-2005, and previous studies that estimated global economic production as long as 2,000 years ago. Then he investigated the implications for carbon dioxide emissions. ...


Can't we just wish really really hard?

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Tue, Nov 24, 2009
from Associated Press:
CO2 curve ticks upward as key climate talks loom
The readings at this 3 km high station show an upward curve as the world counts down to climate talks: Global warming gases have built up to record levels in the atmosphere, from emissions that match scientists' worst-case scenarios. Carbon dioxide concentrations this autumn are hovering at around 385 parts per million, on their way to a near-certain record high above 390 in the first half of next year, at the annual peak. "For the past million years we've never seen 390. You have to wonder what that's going to do," said physicist John Barnes, the observatory director. One leading atmospheric scientist, Stephen Schneider, sees "coin-flip odds for serious outcomes for our planet". ...


You mean ... we might survive?

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Sun, Nov 22, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Acid oceans leave fish at more risk from predators
Ocean acidification could cause fish to become "fatally attracted" to their predators, according to scientists. A team studying the effects of acidification - caused by dissolved CO2 - on ocean reefs found that it leaves fish unable to "smell danger". Young clownfish that were reared in the acidified water became attracted to rather than repelled by the chemical signals released by predatory fish.... In the test, the fish reared in normal water avoided the stream of water that their predators had been swimming in. They detected the odour of a predator and swam away from it. But, Ms Dixson said, fish raised in the more acidic water were strongly attracted to both the predatory and the non-predatory flumes. ...


Ocean acidification makes me a little crazy, too.

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Thu, Nov 19, 2009
from Washington Post:
A climate threat, rising from the soil
...one of the biggest, and most overlooked, causes of global climate change: a vast and often smoldering layer of coal-black peat that has made Indonesia the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. Unlike the noxious gases pumped into the atmosphere by gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles in the United States and smoke-belching factories in China, danger here in the heart of Borneo rises from the ground itself. Peat, formed over thousands of years from decomposed trees, grass and scrub, contains gigantic quantities of carbon dioxide, which used to stay locked in the ground. It is now drying and disintegrating, as once-soggy swamps are shorn of trees and drained by canals, and when it burns, carbon dioxide gushes into the atmosphere. ...


A-PEAT-calypse!

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Tue, Nov 17, 2009
from London Guardian:
Copenhagen climate talks: US refusal to rush gives Obama time to get Senate onside
International agreements such as Kyoto and any successor deal do not come into force the moment they are signed, but after they are subsequently ratified by individual countries. Kyoto, which Bill Clinton did not even submit to the Senate because he knew it would be rejected, took seven years to come into force. Under the US constitution, such ratification needs a two-thirds majority in the Senate. It is this, not Obama, that stands in the way of a deal at Copenhagen. Obama needs time to build domestic support for any treaty, and specifically to get legislation in place to set up a US carbon trading scheme. Until that is done, he dare not nose the US international position ahead of the domestic one. To do so would risk another Senate rejection, which would leave such a deal fatally wounded. ...


So fascinating, these machinations on the Eve of the Apocalypse!

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from New Scientist:
How reputation could save the Earth
HAVE you ever noticed a friend or neighbour driving a new hybrid car and felt pressure to trade in your gas guzzler? Or worried about what people might think when you drive up to the office in an SUV? If so, then you have experienced the power of reputation for encouraging good public behaviour. In fact, reputation is such an effective motivator that it could help us solve the most pressing issue we face -- protecting our planet.... Out in the real world, these experiments suggest a way to help make people reduce their impact on the environment. If information about each of our environmental footprints was made public, concern for maintaining a good reputation could impact behaviour. Would you want your neighbours, friends, or colleagues to think of you as a free rider, harming the environment while benefiting from the restraint of others? ...


But what about my right to private profligacy?

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Sun, Nov 15, 2009
from New York Times:
Leaders Agree to Delay a Deal on Climate Change
SINGAPORE -- President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month, agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific "politically binding" agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future. At a hastily arranged breakfast on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on Sunday morning, the leaders, including Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark and the chairman of the climate conference, agreed that in order to salvage Copenhagen they would have to push a fully binding legal agreement down the road, possibly to a second summit meeting in Mexico City later on. ...


How sweet they agree!

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Fri, Nov 13, 2009
from London Guardian:
Brazil celebrates 45 percent reduction in Amazon deforestation
A police offensive and the global economic crisis have combined to produce the largest fall in more than 20 years... The Brazilian government yesterday announced a "historic" drop in the deforestation of the Amazon, weeks before world leaders meet in Copenhagen for climate change talks. Brazilian authorities said that between August 2008 and July this year, deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest fell by the largest amount in more than 20 years, dropping by 45 percent from nearly 13,000 square kilometres to around 7,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles to 2,700 square miles)... Since February 2008 the government has been waging an "unprecedented" campaign against the loggers, dispatching hundreds of heavily armed agents to remote rainforest towns where destruction was out of control. ...


If only we could dispatch armed agents to stop people from idling their cars.

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Mon, Nov 9, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Copenhagen failure would be 'suicide': Maldives
The president of the Maldives has warned that a failure to agree a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen next month would be an act of "collective suicide". "At the moment every country arrives at climate negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible," President Mohamed Nasheed said here. "This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide. "We don't want a global suicide pact. We want a global survival pact."... Nasheed opened a two-day forum for 11 countries considered the most vulnerable to climate change, urging them to go carbon neutral to show the rich world the way forward. ...


One world leader seems to be flying over this crazy cuckoo's nest.

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Mon, Nov 9, 2009
from McClatchy Newspapers:
GOP's Graham steps out on a limb on climate change
When it comes to combating global warming, Sen. Lindsey Graham is right where he loves to be -- ahead of the curve, in the mix on a major issue, at the table for high-level, bipartisan talks behind closed doors. Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is working with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to craft a climate change bill. They face the dual challenge of overcoming widespread GOP opposition and withstanding relentless attacks by Big Oil and allied energy interests. ...


Graham, Lieberman, Kerry... I feel such confidence.

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Thu, Nov 5, 2009
from Associated Press:
AP IMPACT: Clunker pickups traded for new pickups
The most common deals under the government's $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program, aimed at putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road, replaced old Ford or Chevrolet pickups with new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data by The Associated Press. The single most common swap -- which occurred more than 8,200 times -- involved Ford F150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F150s. They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F150 than, say, a Toyota Prius. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers. ...


Seems we flunked the Clunker program.

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Wed, Nov 4, 2009
from Reuters:
Poor urge deep climate cuts
Developing countries said on Wednesday they risked "total destruction" unless the rich stepped up the fight against climate change to a level that even the United Nations says is out of reach. Keeping up pressure at U.N. climate talks in Barcelona, the poor insisted that developed countries should cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- far more than on offer. ...


Everybody listens to the poor!

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Sat, Oct 31, 2009
from Der Spiegel:
Copenhagen Heads for a Crash
She was once celebrated as the "Climate Chancellor" and seen as an important campaigner for the environment on the international political stage. Now it appears that it is Angela Merkel, of all people, who is dealing a death blow to international climate deals -- by navigating a shortsighted course within the European Union. On the first day of the EU summit meeting, with bloc leaders gathered in Brussels, Merkel adopted a stance which enraged environmentalists. The EU, Merkel was quoted as saying, should not be overly hasty in offering financial aid to developing countries for climate-related projects and should wait on China and the US. Concrete pledges should not be made, she said. ...


Maybe she just needs a nice shoulder massage from W.

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Fri, Oct 30, 2009
from London Guardian:
Canada sets aside its boreal forest as giant carbon vault
...In a series of initiatives, Canadian provincial governments and aboriginal leaders have set aside vast tracts of coniferous woods, wetlands, and peat. The conservation drive bans logging, mining, and oil drilling on some 250m acres -- an area more than twice the size of California...A report by the International Boreal Conservation Campaign said the forests, with their rich mix of trees, wetlands, peat and tundra, were a far bigger carbon store than scientists had realised, soaking up 22 percent of the total carbon stored on the earth's land surface....said Sue Libenson, a spokeswoman for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign... "The general premise is that there is still a hell of a lot of carbon in there." Its release would be a climate catastrophe. ...


CliTastrophe!

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Fri, Oct 30, 2009
from Washington Post:
The Earth Cools, and Fight Over Warming Heats Up
Two years ago, a United Nations scientific panel won the Nobel Peace Prize after concluding that global warming is "unequivocal" and is "very likely" caused by man. Then came a development unforeseen by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC: Data suggested that Earth's temperature was beginning to drop. That has reignited debate over what has become scientific consensus: that climate change is due not to nature, but to humans burning fossil fuels. Scientists who don't believe in man-made global warming cite the cooling as evidence for their case. Those who do believe in man-made warming dismiss the cooling as a blip triggered by fleeting changes in ocean currents; they predict greenhouse gases will produce rising temperatures again soon. ...


Time to get the Hummer out of storage!

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Mon, Oct 26, 2009
from London Independent:
Illegal logging responsible for loss of 10 million hectares in Indonesia
Lush tropical rainforest once covered almost all of Indonesia's 17,000 islands between the Indian and Pacific oceans. And just half a century ago, 80 per cent remained. But since then, rampant logging and burning has destroyed nearly half that cover, and made the country the world's third largest emitter of greenhouses gases after the US and China. Indonesia still has one-tenth of the world's remaining rainforests, a treasure trove of rare plant and animal species, including critically endangered tigers, elephants and orang-utans. However, it is destroying its forests faster than any other country, according to the Guinness Book of Records, with an average two million hectares disappearing every year, double the annual loss in the 1980s. ...


Say it ain't so, Indo!

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Sun, Oct 25, 2009
from Associated Press:
Global events mark magic number on climate change
Activists held events around the world Saturday to mark the number they say the world needs to reach to prevent disastrous climate change: 350. The number represents 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere that some scientists say is the safe upper limit. The atmosphere currently reaches about 390 parts per million, according to research by NASA climate scientist James Hanse cited by 350.org. Hundreds of events highlighted the number in different ways. ...


Gives hope to Copenhagen.

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Fri, Oct 23, 2009
from New Scientist:
How green is your pet?
...As well as guzzling resources, cats and dogs devastate wildlife populations, spread disease and add to pollution. It is time to take eco-stock of our pets. To measure the ecological paw, claw and fin-prints of the family pet, the Vales analysed the ingredients of common brands of pet food. They calculated, for example, that a medium-sized dog would consume 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily in its recommended 300-gram portion of dried dog food. At its pre-dried weight, that equates to 450 grams of fresh meat and 260 grams of cereal. That means that over the course of a year, Fido wolfs down about 164 kilograms of meat and 95 kilograms of cereals. ...


My taxidermied cat emits no carbons at all.

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Fri, Oct 23, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
Tallying the Real Environmental Cost of Biofuels
...Are biofuels really green? A pair of new studies in the Oct. 22 issue of Science damningly demonstrate that the answer is no, at least not the way we currently create and use them. In the first study, a team of researchers led by Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., projected the effects of a major biofuel expansion over the coming century and found that it could end up increasing global greenhouse-gas emissions instead of reducing them. In the second paper, another team of researchers led by Tim Searchinger of Princeton University uncovered a potentially damaging flaw in the way carbon emissions from bioenergy are calculated under the Kyoto Protocol and in the carbon cap-and-trade bill currently being debated in Congress. If that error in calculation goes unfixed, a future increase in biofuel use could end up backfiring and derailing efforts to control global warming, according to the paper. ...


Gee, us Docs knew this a long time ago...

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009
from Associated Press:
Poll: Americans' belief in global warming cools
The number of Americans who believe there is solid evidence that the Earth is warming because of pollution is at its lowest point in three years, according to a survey released Thursday. The poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 57 percent believe there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth has gotten warmer over the past few decades, and as a result, people are viewing the problem as less serious. That's down from 77 percent in 2006. The steepest drop occurred during the last year, as Congress and the Obama administration have taken steps to control heat-trapping emissions for the first time. The drop also was seen during a time of mounting scientific evidence of climate change -- from melting ice caps to the world's oceans hitting the highest monthly recorded temperatures this summer. ...


Pewwwwww!

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009
from Daily Climate:
A day built around a data point goes viral
Author Bill McKibben never saw this coming. Founder of 350.org, an environmental campaign aimed at holding atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts-per-million, McKibben set this Saturday as the day to take to the streets. The call went viral in ways far beyond anything McKibben and fellow organizers imagined: As of Thursday morning some 4,227 actions and rallies are planned in 170 countries, with 300 events in China, 1500 across the United States, 500-plus in Central and South America. Organizers credit the increasing inter-connectedness of Web, cellular and social networks for the spread, saying such random and organic growth would have been impossible even two years ago. "This is the one most important number in the world right now," McKibben said in an interview. "It's the one number that applies as absolutely in the Maldives as in Manhattan. It somehow has worked its magic." ...


What a difference a day -- and a data point -- makes!

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Thu, Oct 15, 2009
from Environmental Science and Technology:
UN update: climate change hitting sooner and stronger
With a handful of weeks remaining before the climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released an updated summary of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report, Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, warns that many predictions that were at the upper ranges of 2007 IPCC forecasts are increasingly likely, and some events that were seen previously as probable over the long term are on the verge of occurring or are occurring already. "The pace and the scale of climate change is accelerating, along with the confidence among researchers in their forecasts," UNEP Director Achim Steiner states in the document. The analysis incorporates results from more than 400 major studies published since 2007 and addresses impacts on Earth systems, glaciers and ice sheets, oceans, and ecosystems. Increasingly, scientists are framing some of these transformations as "commitments"--inevitabilities that will play out even after the climate stabilizes. ...


The only thing that seems to be going SLOWER is our ability to respond to the crisis!

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Wed, Oct 14, 2009
from UPI:
Climate change may be faster than expected
A team of U.S. scientists has, for the first time, successfully incorporated the nitrogen cycle into global climate change simulations.... "We've shown that if all of the global modeling groups were to include some kind of nutrient dynamics, the range of model predictions would shrink because of the constraining effects of the carbon nutrient limitations, even though it's a more complex model," Oak Ridge scientist Peter Thornton said. By taking the natural demand for nutrients into account, the authors demonstrated the stimulation of plant growth during the coming century might be two to three times smaller than previously predicted. Since less growth implies less carbon dioxide absorbed by vegetation, the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are expected to increase. ...


We don't even know how much we don't even know.

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Sun, Oct 11, 2009
from Reuters:
Russian climate goal weak as 'methane bomb' ticks
The snows are late in coming on the Arctic Yamal peninsula where moist, dark permafrost entombed for 10,000 years crumbles into the sea at the top of the world. Western scientists and environmentalists say collapsed river banks, rising tide waters and warmer winters in northwest Russia are clear signs of climate change, but they add Russia is in denial, ignoring a potentially disastrous "methane bomb". "We are appealing to world leaders as this issue is overlooked in Russia... there is a carbon, or methane bomb embedded in our earth," Vladimir Chuprov, head of the Russian energy unit at environmental group Greenpeace, told Reuters. He added that Russia -- which has permafrost covering 60 percent of its land -- most likely holds the world's biggest methane threat. By 2050, vast amounts of methane will "explode into the air" from Russia's melting permafrost, Chuprov said. ...


There's something Strangelovian about this time bomb.

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Sat, Oct 10, 2009
from CleanTechnica:
90 percent of Coal Plant CO2 Captured in 12-Month Test
One year ago the French company Alstrom began a year-long US test of capturing CO2 from the water+carbon-dioxide mix created using their chilled-ammonia technology, in the smokestack of the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant in Wisconsin. This week the year's results were announced. The years average CO2 capture rate was 90 percent, according to a joint announcement from the EPRI, We Energies and Alstrom to the Society of Environmental Journalists.... The 12-month test was just completed after running 24 hours a day on a small sectioned-off portion of the smokestack; working on just 5 percent of the plants total emissions. But the test is scalable, and the Electric Power Research Institute, the R&D arm of the utility industry, is optimistic that chilled-ammonia technology will work on a larger scale. It is one of several carbon-capture technologies under consideration as we move to a carbon constrained world. ...


I think we need another few years of study, don't you?

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Sat, Oct 10, 2009
from BBC (UK):
'Scary' climate message from past
A new historical record of carbon dioxide levels suggests current political targets on climate may be "playing with fire", scientists say. Researchers used ocean sediments to plot CO2 levels back 20 million years. Levels similar to those now commonly regarded as adequate to tackle climate change were associated with sea levels 25-40m (80-130 ft) higher than today.... In the intervening millennia, CO2 concentrations have been much lower; in the last few million years they cycled between 180ppm and 280ppm in rhythm with the sequence of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods. Now, humanity's emissions of greenhouse gases are pushing towards the 400ppm range, which will very likely be reached within a decade.... "This is yet another paper that makes the future look more scary than previously thought by many," said the University of Arizona scientist. ...


Lucky for me, I just watch television, where there are no papers to read.

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Fri, Oct 9, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Norway First Rich Nation to Pledge 40 percent Reductions
Norway yesterday became the first country to pledge to cut carbon emissions in line with climate scientists' most demanding recommendations, committing to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 per cent on their 1990 level by 2020. Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was re-elected last month, said the government was prepared to meet demands from developing nations for the rich world to take the lead in tackling climate change and would upgrade its existing 30 per cent target to 40 per cent.... The row continued to bubble away for a second day after the US yesterday said it would not sign up to any deal based on the Kyoto Protocol and called for a complete reworking of the draft Copenhagen Treaty based on countries setting their own emissions targets. ...


Showoffs.

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Fri, Oct 9, 2009
from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
Last time carbon dioxide levels were this high: 15 million years ago, scientists report
"The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today -- and were sustained at those levels -- global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland," said the paper's lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.... Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years -- until recent decades, said Tripati, who is also a member of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. It has been known that modern-day levels of carbon dioxide are unprecedented over the last 800,000 years, but the finding that modern levels have not been reached in the last 15 million years is new. ...


What an unfair coincidence -- just as we, the pinnacle of evolution, arrives on the scene.

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Thu, Oct 8, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Is the sun setting on oil supplies?
There is a "significant risk" that global oil supplies could peak within the next decade, according to a major new report which warns that increased oil price volatility and dwindling supplies will impact businesses far sooner than officially suggested.... It also warns that the UK government is not alone in being unprepared for this scenario, which would result in rising oil prices and increased price volatility. "In our view, forecasts which delay a peak in conventional oil production until after 2030 are at best optimistic and at worst implausible," said the report's chief author Steve Sorrell. "And given the world's overwhelming dependence upon oil and the time required to develop alternatives, 2030 isn't far away." The report downplays the implications of recent big oil discoveries, such as those announced in the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that with oil demand currently running at 80 million barrels a day even big finds would only delay a peak in supplies by a few days or weeks. ...


Hmmm... that commute is a little daunting, by bicycle.

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Wed, Oct 7, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Rich nations' carbon targets condemn planet, report warns
The study analysed the carbon targets proposed by the European Union, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Belarus, Ukraine and Canada as well as those set out in the US Waxman-Markey climate bill, which has yet to be passed. It found that the combined pledges equate to cuts of between 10 and 24 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, depending on various assumptions regarding inclusion or exclusion of land use, land-use change and forestry data and whether countries opt for the lower or upper end of their targets. For example, the EU has said it will upgrade its goal of cutting emissions 20 per cent by 2020 to 30 per cent if other industrialised countries agree to similar targets.... Large emerging economies such as China and India are refusing to adopt their own binding emission targets until rich nations agree to targets that are in line with that recommended by climate scientists. In response, industrialised nations have been reluctant to sign up to more demanding goals, fearing an economic advantage for those emerging economies that face less demanding emission targets. ...


Can we at least compromise to equalized future misery instead of fatal collapse?

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Tue, Oct 6, 2009
from London Guardian:
China leads accusation that rich nations are trying to sabotage climate treaty
The US and other developed countries are attempting to "fundamentally sabotage" the Kyoto protocol and all-important international negotiations over its next phase, according to coordinated statements by China and 130 developing countries at UN climate talks in Bangkok today. As 180 countries started a second week of talks, the developing countries showed their deep frustration at the slow pace of the negotiations on a global climate deal, which are planned to be concluded in two months' time in Copenhagen. "The reason why we are not making progress is the lack of political will by Annex 1 [industrialised] countries. There is a concerted effort to fundamentally sabotage the Kyoto protocol," said ambassador Yu Qingtai China's special representative on climate talks. "We now hear statements that would lead to the termination of the protocol. They are introducing new rules, new formats. That's not the way to conduct negotiations," said Yu. ...


Copenhagen... is going to be one giant bitchfest!

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Mon, Oct 5, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Copenhagen on a knife edge as US plays down climate bill expectations
The ongoing Copenhagen negotiations received a dual blow on Friday, as the White House admitted for the first time that it was unlikely to pass a US climate bill this year and the UN's top climate change official expressed disappointment at the pace of the current talks in Bangkok. Speaking as the Bangkok conference enters its second week, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told reporters that efforts to trim the 180-page draft negotiating text were still moving too slowly. "Progress toward high industrialised-world emissions cuts remains disappointing during these talks. We're not seeing real advances there," he said. "Movement on the ways and means and institutions to raise, manage and deploy financing support for the developing world's climate action also remains slow." ...


Carbon footprint-dragging.

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Sun, Oct 4, 2009
from London Guardian:
Arctic seas turn to acid, putting vital food chain at risk
Carbon-dioxide emissions are turning the waters of the Arctic Ocean into acid at an unprecedented rate, scientists have discovered. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard has shown in many regions around the north pole seawater is likely to reach corrosive levels within 10 years. The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic....About a quarter of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by factories, power stations and cars now ends up being absorbed by the oceans. That represents more than six million tonnes of carbon a day. This carbon dioxide dissolves and is turned into carbonic acid, causing the oceans to become more acidic. "We knew the Arctic would be particularly badly affected when we started our studies but I did not anticipate the extent of the problem," said Gattuso. ...


Oy. Speaking of acid, my stomach is killing me!

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Wed, Sep 30, 2009
from Indianapolis Star:
Purdue researchers monitor cow emissions
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University is leading a new study that seeks to answer the smelly question of how much greenhouse gases are produced by dairy cows. The study won't just look at the issue of cow flatulence -- it will also examine the amount of greenhouse gases that cow manure releases. A Purdue professor is leading colleagues at Purdue and four other schools in the study. They'll monitor carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide at five barn sites and two manure lagoons in Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Washington and New York. ...


'Cause we know just how vital the issue of cow flatulence can be!

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
from New York Times:
Climate Bill Splits Exelon and U.S. Chamber
Exelon, one of the country's largest utilities, said Monday that it would quit the United States Chamber of Commerce because of that group's stance on climate change. It was the latest in a string of companies to do so, perhaps a harbinger of how intense the fight over global warming legislation could become. "The carbon-based free lunch is over," said John W. Rowe, Exelon's chief executive. "Breakthroughs on climate change and improving our society's energy efficiency are within reach." ...


Just so's we can still have the occasional martini.

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
from Climate Wire:
Is 350 the New 450 When It Comes to Capping Carbon Emissions?
...Nearly 200 countries have signed a U.N. treaty pledging to avoid "dangerous" climate change. But lately, it seems, "dangerous" is lost in translation. Fifteen years since that agreement took effect, scientists and governments are still grappling with what carrying out its promise means. For the European Union, it means limiting Earth's warming to just 2 degrees Celsius hotter by the end of this century than it was before the Industrial Revolution. That's a goal many experts believe is roughly equivalent to capping atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million. But a growing number of countries -- mostly vulnerable ones and small island nations like the Maldives -- say that won't prevent rising sea levels from swamping their coasts. They're calling for an even stricter standard: 350 parts per million, a number endorsed by NASA climatologist James Hansen. ...


Death is the new life.

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Thu, Sep 24, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
How Much Human Activity Can Earth Handle?
...as human population has exploded over the past few thousand years, the delicate ecological balance that kept the Long Summer going has become threatened. The rise of industrialized agriculture has thrown off Earth's natural nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, leading to pollution on land and water, while our fossil-fuel addiction has moved billions of tons of carbon from the land into the atmosphere, heating the climate ever more. Now a new article in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature says the safe climatic limits in which humanity has blossomed are more vulnerable than ever and that unless we recognize our planetary boundaries and stay within them, we risk total catastrophe....Stay within the lines, and we might just be all right. ...


Humans just aren't all that good at staying within the lines...

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Wed, Sep 23, 2009
from TomDispatch (Michael Klare), via Mother Jones:
The Era of Xtreme Energy
The debate rages over whether we have already reached the point of peak world oil output or will not do so until at least the next decade. There can, however, be little doubt of one thing: we are moving from an era in which oil was the world's principal energy source to one in which petroleum alternatives -- especially renewable supplies derived from the sun, wind, and waves -- will provide an ever larger share of our total supply. But buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride under Xtreme conditions. It would, of course, be ideal if the shift from dwindling oil to its climate-friendly successors were to happen smoothly via a mammoth, well-coordinated, interlaced system of wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and other renewable energy installations. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur. Instead, we will surely first pass through an era characterized by excessive reliance on oil's final, least attractive reserves along with coal, heavily polluting "unconventional" hydrocarbons like Canadian oil sands, and other unappealing fuel choices. ...


Thank goodness "clean coal" is just around the corner!

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Tue, Sep 22, 2009
from Associated Press:
UN climate chief says China poised to take lead
China's ambition to grow quickly but cleanly soon may vault it to "front-runner" status — far ahead of the United States — in taking on global warming, the U.N. climate chief said Monday. China could steal the show by unveiling new plans Tuesday at a U.N. climate summit of 100 world leaders. India has also signaled that it wants to be an "active player" on climate change. "China and India have announced very ambitious national climate change plans. In the case of China, so ambitious that it could well become the front-runner in the fight to address climate change," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press Monday. "The big question mark is the U.S." The development would mark a dramatic turnabout. The United States, under former President George W. Bush's administration, long cited inaction by China and India as the reason for rejecting mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases. ...


Oh... we'll think of SOMETHING.

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Mon, Sep 21, 2009
from The (fake) New York Post:
We're Screwed
It�s official. It�s getting hot down here. And if we don�t stop burning oil and coal, the Big Apple will be cooked. According to a high tech study commissioned by a concerned Mayor Bloomberg and generously funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, climate change caused by human-created greenhouse gases is threatening the health, livelihood and security of New Yorkers�especially those who take the subway to work. The New York City Panel on Climate Change, led by an elite team of NASA scientists and climate experts from Columbia, CUNY and Rutgers, has concluded that unless carbon emissions are drastically reduced all over the world, New York faces dangerous increases in temperature (up to 7.5 degrees), extreme weather (hurricanes and intense storms) and sea level rise (as much as 4.5 feet). ...


A fake publication of the NYP, but all the facts are real. Go Yes Men!

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Sun, Sep 20, 2009
from New York Times:
No Climate Change Leader as Nations Meet
Economists point to powerhouse countries like India to illustrate the hurdles facing some 100 world leaders due to gather in New York this Tuesday for the highest level summit meeting on climate change ever convened... While virtually all of the largest developed and developing nations have made domestic commitments toward creating more efficient, renewable sources of energy to cut emissions, none want to take the lead in fighting for significant international emissions reduction targets, lest they be accused at home of selling out future jobs and economic growth... “The mood in the negotiations has been that I should do as little as possible as late as possible and let the other person go first,” said Kim Carstensen, the director of the Global Climate Initiative of the World Wildlife Fund. ...


If such a leader existed, s/he would probably be the antichrist!

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Fri, Sep 18, 2009
from London Times:
India challenges US by agreeing to impose limits on carbon emissions
India wrong-footed the United States and other rich nations yesterday by agreeing for the first time to set numerical targets for curbing its greenhouse gas emissions. The move added to pressure on the Obama Administration to deliver on its own climate change pledges even as senior Democrats warned that US legislation may face severe delays. Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Environment Minister, told The Times that legislation was being drafted in Delhi to limit India's carbon footprint and in the process repair his country's reputation for intransigence on climate change before the crucial UN conference in Copenhagen in December. ...


If India can do it, then yes we can too!

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Tue, Sep 15, 2009
from Yale Environment 360:
Green Intelligence: Toward True Ecological Transparency
Wal-Mart has handed the environmental movement a new tool for ameliorating the human footprint: using an emerging generation of information systems to create market pressures to upgrade the ecological performance of commerce and industry. This strategy entails making life-cycle-assessment data for products transparent -- that is, labeling them with a sound, independent rating so shoppers can easily take the ecological impacts into account as they decide what to buy. Indeed, the Wal-Mart announcement has thrust what once seemed merely an intriguing idea into a market reality companies will have to deal with -- not just in tomorrow's strategic plans, but in today's logistics and operations. Wal-Mart's 100,000-plus suppliers (and the likes of Procter & Gamble counts as just one) will be required to reveal their products' ecological impacts or have them dropped from the retailer's stores worldwide. ...


Just as long as they keep using the smiley face, I'm okay with it.

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Sat, Sep 12, 2009
from Mauna Loa observatory data, via co2now.org:
August CO2 at 385.92
That's 35.92 ppm more than we can allow. And still rising. ...


I'm steaming mad. Hot under the collar. Sweating from fear.

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Thu, Sep 10, 2009
from Oxford University Press, David W. Orr:
Book -- Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
...the hardest tests for our Constitution and democracy are just ahead and have to do with the relationship between governance, politics, and the dramatic changes in Earth systems now under way. Human actions have set in motion a radical disruption of the biophysical systems of the planet that will undermine the human prospect, perhaps for centuries. The crucial issues will be decided by how and how well we conduct the public business in the decades and centuries ahead, and now on a planetary scale. Of the hard realities of governance ahead, five stand out.... ...


Right... like we're going to confront it. We'll just keep on confirming the theory.

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Wed, Sep 9, 2009
from Washington Post:
Coalition Launches Campaign to Pass Climate Bill
A coalition of environmental, labor, veterans and religious groups formally launched a national lobbying campaign Tuesday aimed at mobilizing grass-roots support for passage of a Senate climate bill this fall. The group -- dubbed Clean Energy Works -- marks perhaps the most ambitious effort yet to enact legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. The coalition has enlisted organizers in 28 key states to help build support for a cap-and-trade bill, and is scheduled to launch paid television ads this week. It also plans to bring 100 veterans to Washington this week to lobby, and has held town halls and rallies in several states. ...


If only we could remove the word "coal" from coalition.

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Wed, Sep 9, 2009
from Lexington Herald-Leader:
Massey CEO blasts climate bill at rally
The chief executive of coal mining giant Massey Energy blasted supporters of climate-change legislation and other environmental issues affecting the coal industry at a free Labor Day concert and rally in southern West Virginia. CEO Don Blankenship said he wanted to show people at the event how government regulation is hurting the coal industry, driving up energy prices and making the country less competitive.... Headlining the event were Fox News personality Sean Hannity and [Hank] Williams, [Jr.], while rocker Ted Nugent served as master of ceremonies and played briefly. "Today's the day when the American worker takes back this country," Nugent said. Hannity blasted President Barack Obama on several topics, including energy policy. "Barack Obama hates the coal industry. Barack Obama hates the oil industry," Hannity said. "If they shut down the coal industry, we lose America as we know it." ...


I hear Obama wants coal-loving people to go before death panels.

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Thu, Aug 27, 2009
from London Times:
Synthetic trees and algae can counter climate change, say engineers
Giant fly-swat shaped "synthetic trees" line the road into the office, where blooms of algae grow in tubes up the walls and the roof reflects heat back into the sky -- all reducing the effects of global warming. All this could be a familiar sight within the next two decades, under proposals devised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to alter the world's climate with new technology. A day after John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Secretary, warned that negotiations for a global deal to cut carbon emissions were in danger of collapsing, the institution is recommending a series of technical fixes to "buy time" to avert dangerous levels of climate change. It says that the most promising solution is offered by artificial trees, devices that collect CO2 through their "leaves" and convert it to a form that can easily be collected and stored. ...


Gee, while we're at it, can we make these trees able to walk and talk, too?

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Thu, Aug 27, 2009
from COP15:
CO2 in the atmosphere may be 20 to 25 percent higher than previously estimated
New research from two professors at the University of Bergen, Norway, reveals that nature absorbs much less greenhouse gas from the atmosphere than estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).... The models show that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere could likely be 20 to 25 percent higher than previously estimated. Consequently climate change will happen faster, writes the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen.... "The most realistic is no longer 2, but 3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius," Helge Drange says to Norwegian weekly Teknisk Ukeblad. "Then we will cross more thresholds with irreversible damage to water supply and food production", says Drange. ...


Underpromise, then overperform!

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Tue, Aug 25, 2009
from 350.org:
Top UN Scientist Endorses 350!
By Bill McKibben... We've had many breakthroughs in the 350 campaign in the last 18 months, but maybe none as important as today. Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N's top climate scientist, said in an interview today that 350 was the bottom line for the planet. Here's the background--the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which Pachauri heads, is responsible for advising the world's governments on climate change. The IPCC's last report, which came out in the winter of 2007, didn't actually set a target for CO2, but it was widely interpreted as backing a goal of 450 ppm CO2. ...


I'm going to get a carbon-neutral dog and name him 350!

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Mon, Aug 24, 2009
from London Times:
Unilever wants ice cream to ease global warming
Warm ice cream is the holy grail for scientists at Unilever, owner of the Magnum and Ben & Jerry's brands, which is developing a "low-carbon" product to be sold at room temperature and frozen at home. Unilever hopes that a product sold at room temperature will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ice cream is one of the company's more energy-intensive products because of the need to keep it frozen during transport and storage... A spokesman for Unilever said that warm, or so-called ambient, ice cream was a "very interesting idea" but one that posed tough challenges that its scientists were trying to solve. ...


Biggest challenge might be naming it. Why not, um... "nice cream"?

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Thu, Aug 20, 2009
from Earth2Tech:
Why the Kindle Is Good for the Planet
According to a fascinating report from the Cleantech Group, called The Environmental Impact of Amazon's Kindle, one e-Book device on average can displace the buying of about 22.5 physical books per year, and thus deliver an estimated savings of 168 kg of CO2 per year. the U.S. book and magazine sectors accounted for the harvesting of 125 million trees in 2008, and an average book has a carbon footprint of 7.46 kilograms of CO2 over its lifetime. A book's carbon footprint also can double if you drive to the store and buy it, versus having it shipped in the mail. So in a similar way to how downloading digital music and listening to it on your computer has a much better carbon footprint than driving to the store and purchasing a CD, the savings for e-Books are about both dematerialization and eliminating the need for transportation. ...


I won't believe that until a see it in print.

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Wed, Aug 19, 2009
from New York Times:
Oil Industry Backs Protests of Emissions Bill
Hard on the heels of the health care protests, another citizen movement seems to have sprung up, this one to oppose Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. But behind the scenes, an industry with much at stake — Big Oil — is pulling the strings. The event on Tuesday was organized by a group called Energy Citizens, which is backed by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade group. Many of the people attending the demonstration were employees of oil companies who work in Houston and were bused from their workplaces. ...


Fieldtrip!

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Mon, Aug 17, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Developed countries' demand for biofuels has been 'disastrous'
The production of biofuels is fuelling poverty, human rights abuses and damage to the environment, Christian Aid warned today. The charity said huge subsidies and targets in developed countries for boosting the production of fuels from plants such as maize and palm oil are exacerbating environmental and social problems in poor nations. And rather than being a "silver bullet" to tackle climate change, the carbon emissions of some of the fuels are higher than fossil fuels because of deforestation driven by the need for land for them to grow.... [I]ndustrial scale production of biofuels is worsening problems such as food price hikes in central America, forced displacement of small farmers for plantations and pollution of local water sources.... Developed countries have poured subsidies into biofuel production -- for example in the US where between 9.2 billion dollars and 11 billion dollars went to supporting maize-based ethanol in 2008 -- when there are cheaper and more effective ways to cut emissions from transport, the report said.... "[T]he best approach to biofuels is to grow them on a small scale and process them locally to provide energy for people in the surrounding countryside." ...


Small-scale production for local needs? What economy are they from?

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Sun, Aug 16, 2009
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Study links drought with rising emissions
DROUGHT experts have for the first time proven a link between rising levels of greenhouse gases and a decline in rainfall. A three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO has confirmed that the drought is not just a natural dry stretch but a shift related to climate change. Scientists working on the $7 million South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative said the rain had dropped away because the subtropical ridge - a band of high pressure systems that sits over the country's south - had strengthened over the past 13 years. ...


The rain was full of acid anyway.

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Sat, Aug 15, 2009
from Canwest News:
Experts: Arctic ice experiencing severe summer retreat
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads north next week for what's become his annual summer visit to the Arctic, he will encounter a world scientists believe is in the midst of an unprecedented and irreversible transformation, where retreating sea ice and related environmental changes are radically reshaping the region's future.... In the upcoming days, researchers from around the world will reassess the state of the Arctic Ocean ice cover and gauge whether this summer's retreat -- already viewed as another "extreme" thaw -- will surpass the 2007 meltdown that shocked even veteran observers of the polar realm.... [T]he biggest floes now jamming the fabled Arctic shipping corridor are southward-floating, orphaned chunks of the thickest, oldest "multi-year" ice mass that has been steadily disintegrating -- in North America, Europe and Asia -- along the edges of the central Arctic Ocean.... The region is, Howell told Canwest News Service, "past the 'tipping-point,'" when increasing expanses of darker, open water absorb ever more heat and the diminished ice cover -- normally able to reflect sunlight because of its lighter surface -- melts more quickly. ...


It's freakin' chemistry and physics, you idiot deniers!

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Fri, Aug 14, 2009
from University of Alaska Fairbanks via EurekAlert:
New findings show increased ocean acidification in Alaska waters
The same things that make Alaska's marine waters among the most productive in the world may also make them the most vulnerable to ocean acidification. According to new findings by a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist, Alaska's oceans are becoming increasingly acidic, which could damage Alaska's king crab and salmon fisheries.... When he tested the samples' acidity in his lab, the results were higher than expected. They show that ocean acidification is likely more severe and is happening more rapidly in Alaska than in tropical waters. The results also matched his recent findings in the Chukchi and Bering Seas.... Ocean acidification makes it more difficult to build shells, and in some cases the water can become acidic enough to break down existing shells. Mathis' recent research in the Gulf of Alaska uncovered multiple sites where the concentrations of shell-building minerals were so low that shellfish and other organisms in the region would be unable to build strong shells. "It seems like everywhere we look in Alaska's coastal oceans, we see signs of increased ocean acidification," said Mathis. ...


pHrankly, I find these pHindings pHenomenally pHrightening.

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Tue, Aug 11, 2009
from ARC Center, via ScienceDaily:
Humans 'Damaging The Oceans' In Profound Ways
Man-made carbon emissions "are affecting marine biological processes from genes to ecosystems over scales from rock pools to ocean basins, impacting ecosystem services and threatening human food security," ... rates of physical change in the oceans are unprecedented in some cases, and change in ocean life is likely to be equally quick. These include changes in the areas fish and other sea species can inhabit, invasions, extinctions and major shifts in marine ecosystems.... Man-made carbon emissions are now above the 'worst case' scenario envisioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), causing the most rapid global warming seen since the peak of the last Ice Age. At the same time the carbon is acidifying the oceans, with harmful consequences for certain plankton and shellfish. ...


Whoops. Our bad. How do you hit Restart on this game?

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Mon, Aug 10, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Ban Ki-moon warns of catastrophe without world deal on climate change
Climate change is "simply the greatest collective challenge we face as a human family", Mr Ban said in a speech on Monday in Seoul. He urged international leaders to reach a deal to limit their countries' carbon emissions at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.... "The world has less than 10 years to halt the global rise in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences for people and the planet." He called on governments to "seal the deal in the name of humankind" through a "renewed multilateralism, a compassionate multilateralism."... John Prescott, the former deputy Prime Minister, who helped broker the Kyoto deal, warned rich nations would have to make more sacrifices.... "Copenhagen is a much more difficult nut to crack than Kyoto," Mr Prescott warned, adding rich countries faced having to make a "fundamental change" to their economies. ...


Hmmm... fundamental change by choice now, or fundamental change forced upon us by reality later?

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Sat, Aug 8, 2009
from University of Hawaii, via ScienceDaily:
Researchers Reveal Ocean Acidification At Station ALOHA In Hawaii
Since the beginning of the industrial age, CO2-driven acidification of the surface oceans has already caused a 0.1 unit lowering of pH, and models suggest that another 0.3 pH unit drop by the year 2050 is likely. Continued acidification of the sea may have a host of negative impacts on marine biota, and has the potential to alter the rates of ocean biogeochemical processes. Despite the global environmental importance of ocean acidification, there are few studies of sufficient duration, accuracy and sampling intensity to document the rate of change of ocean pH and shed light on the factors controlling its variability.... [However,] Dore, along with SOEST co-authors Karl, Lukas, Matt Church and Dan Sadler, found that over the two decades of observation, the surface ocean grew more acidic at exactly the rate expected from chemical equilibration with the atmosphere. However, that rate of change varied considerably on seasonal and inter-annual timescales, and even reversed for one period of nearly five years. The year-to-year changes appear to be driven by climate-induced changes in ocean mixing and attendant biological responses to mixing events. ...


In this case, "exactly as expected" may be "worse than we imagined."

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Mon, Aug 3, 2009
from Science News:
The Biofuel Future
Biofuels are liquid energy Version 2.0. Unlike their fossil fuel counterparts -- the cadaverous remains of plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago -- biofuels come from vegetation grown in the here and now. So they should offer a carbon-neutral energy source: Plants that become biofuels ideally consume more carbon dioxide during photosynthesis than they emit when processed and burned for power. Biofuels make fossil fuels seem so last century, so quaintly carboniferous. The only way that biofuels will add up is if they produce more energy than it takes to make them. Yet, depending on the crops and the logistics of production, some analyses suggest that it may take more energy to make these fuels than they will provide. And if growing biofuels creates the same environmental problems that plague much of large-scale agriculture, then air and water quality might not really improve. Prized ecosystems such as rain forests, wetlands and savannas could be destroyed to grow crops. Biofuels done badly, scientists say, could go very, very wrong. ...


What the heck are we gonna do w/ all this darn corn!

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Sun, Aug 2, 2009
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Scientists claim planet is heading for 'irreversible' climate change by 2040
Carbon dioxide levels are rising at a faster rate than the worst-case scenario envisaged by United Nations experts, with the planet heading for "catastrophic" and "irreversible" climate change by 2040, a new report claims. The rise of greenhouse gases will trigger an unprecedented rate of global warming that will result in the loss of the ice-covered polar seas by 2020, much of our coral reefs by 2040 and see a 1.4-metre rise in the sea level by 2100. The apocalyptic vision has been outlined in a paper by Andrew Brierley of St Andrews University, which is likely to influence the views of UN experts gathering in Copenhagen this December to establish a new protocol that will attempt to halt global warming. ...


"Apocalyptic"? Where are the plagues of locusts?

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Fri, Jul 31, 2009
from New Scientist:
Alaska's biggest tundra fire sparks climate warning
The fire that raged north of Alaska's Brooks mountain range in 2007 left a 1000-square-kilometre scorched patch of earth – an area larger than the sum of all known fires on Alaska's North Slope since 1950. Now scientists studying the ecological impact of the fire report that the blaze dumped 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – about the amount that Barbados puts out in a year. What's more, at next week's meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two teams will warn that as climate change takes hold tundra fires across the Arctic will become more frequent. Tundra fires only take off once certain thresholds are reached, says Adrian Rocha of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. "But projected changes in climate over the next century – increased aridity, thunderstorms, and warming in the Arctic – will increase the likelihood that these thresholds will be crossed and thus result in more larger and frequent fires." ...


Just when you thought you'd run out of stuff to worry about...

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Mon, Jul 27, 2009
from London Observer:
Poisonous gas from African lake poses threat to millions
More than two million people living on the banks of Lake Kivu in central Africa are at risk of being asphyxiated by gases building up beneath its surface, scientists have warned. It is estimated that the lake, which straddles the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, now contains 300 cubic kilometres of carbon dioxide and 60 cubic kilometres of methane that have bubbled into the Kivu from volcanic vents. The gases are trapped in layers 80 metres below the lake's surface by the intense water pressures there. However, researchers have warned that geological or volcanic events could disturb these waters and release the gases. The impact would be devastating, as was demonstrated on 21 August 1986 at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, in West Africa. Its waters were saturated with carbon dioxide and a major disturbance - most probably a landslide - caused a huge cloud of carbon dioxide to bubble up from its depths and to pour down the valleys that lead from the crater lake. Carbon dioxide is denser than air, so that the 50mph cloud hugged the ground and smothered everything in its path. Some 1,700 people were suffocated. ...


Sounds like the Mother of all Belches.

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Thu, Jul 23, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Meet Belchatow, Europe's biggest carbon polluter
The biggest single producer of carbon emissions in the European Union has been named -- and it is about to get even bigger. The appropriately titled Elektrownia Belchatow -- a massive coal-fired power station -- belched out 30,862,792 tonnes of CO2 last year and by 2010 the whole generating facility will have grown by 20 percent.... Elektrownia Belchatow is raising coal-fired capacity from 4,400 megawatts to 5,258 from next year. The facility, which burns the most polluting lignite "brown" coal from its own mine next door, is earmarked for a full carbon capture and storage prototype, but only by 2015 at the earliest.... New coal stations are being planned in big numbers in the US and China but the EU has been arguing that all countries should proceed only if they use CCS to turn them into "clean" coal projects. ...


What's Polish for "you are building our future hell," I wonder?

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from West Virginia Gazette:
Carbon capture for coal costly, study finds
Harvard University researchers have issued a new report that confirms what many experts already feared: Stopping greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants is going to cost a lot of money.... Electricity costs could double at a first-generation plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report from energy researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center. Costs would drop as the technology matures, but could still amount to an increase of 22 to 55 percent, according to the report, "Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture," issued this week.... In the U.S., coal provides half of the nation's electricity. Many experts believe that, because of vast supplies, coal will continue to generate much of the nation's power for many years to come. ...


OMG!! You mean we might have to almost pay the true cost of coal??

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Mon, Jul 20, 2009
from London Financial Times:
How to end America's deadly coal addiction
Converting rapidly from coal-generated energy to gas is President Barack Obama's most obvious first step towards saving our planet and jump-starting our economy. A revolution in natural gas production over the past two years has left America awash with natural gas and has made it possible to eliminate most of our dependence on deadly, destructive coal practically overnight -- and without the expense of building new power plants... By changing the dispatch rule nationally to require that whenever coal and gas plants are competing head-to-head, gas generation must be utilised first, we could quickly reduce coal generation and achieve massive emissions reductions. In an instant, this simple change could eliminate three-quarters of America's coal-burning generators and save a fortune in energy costs. Around 920 US coal plants -- 78 per cent of the total -- are small (generating less than half a gigawatt), antiquated and horrendously inefficient. Their average age is 45 years, with many over 75. They tend to be located amidst dense populations and in poor neighbourhoods to lethal effect. ...


Something tells me this idea is gonna get the coal industry steaming.

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Sat, Jul 18, 2009
from New York Times:
Bottled Water Makers in the Hot Seat
Bottled water makers, it seems, are under seige. The Environmental Working Group, which found chemical contaminants in tests of bottled water, has begun calling for more oversight of the bottled water industry. Proponents of low-carbon lifestyles, meanwhile, are urging consumers to eschew bottled water and fill up reusable bottles with tap water instead. Restaurants have started to pull bottled water from their menus, and cities like Toronto are delivering chilled, dispensable drinking water to public events so people won't have to buy it. Last week, members of Congress grilled manufacturers of bottled water about the safety and environmental impacts of their products, while a small town in Australia reportedly became the first in the world to ban bottled water entirely. ...


I dunno... Paying for the contaminants just feels right.

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from The Hudson Star-Observer:
Meteorologist says man not cause of climate issue
Dave Dahl, chief meteorologist at KSTP in the Twin Cities, told Hudson Rotarians that man is not the culprit when it comes to global warming, or climate change, issues. Dahl spoke to the Hudson Thursday Noon Rotary Club on July 9 and said what was called "global warming" is now tabbed "climate change" -- because temperatures on the planet have decreased in the past couple years.... He said that the heating of the earth -- which is mostly a good thing -- is caused primarily by water vapor -- about 98 percent. He said carbon and other elements account for about 2 percent of the mix. Of that 2 percent, human involvement represents only about 2 percent of that (.0004 percent). ...


Weather anchors like this are weighing us down!

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from Haaretz:
Israeli study sees link between oral cancer, cell phones
A recent study documents a sharp rise in the incidence of salivary gland cancer in Israel that researchers believe may be linked to the use of mobile phones. The study was commissioned by the Israel Dental Association and directed by Avi Zini of the community dentistry department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. The study included examination of the incidence of oral cavity cancers in Israel from 1970 to 2006. Among salivary gland cancer cases, researchers found a worrying rise in the number of cases of malignant growth in parotid glands - the salivary gland located under the ear, near the location where cell phones are held during conversations. ...


Shall we rename 'em cancer cell phones?

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from New York Times:
At Wal-Mart, Labeling to Reflect Green Intent
Shoppers expect the tags on Wal-Mart items to have rock-bottom prices. In the future they may also have information about the product's carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake. As the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores is on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of every item it puts on its shelves. And it has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create an electronic indexing system to do that. The idea is to create a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are over the course of their lives. Consider it the green equivalent to nutrition labels. ...


Somebody pinch me... am I dreaming?

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Tue, Jul 14, 2009
from Climate Wire:
SEC Turnaround Sparks Sudden Look at Climate Disclosure
Federal regulators are preparing to launch "a very serious look" at requiring corporations to assess and reveal the effects of climate change on their financial health, according to a commissioner on the Securities and Exchange Commission. Initial efforts are under way, moving the commission toward a conclusion that investment groups had sought unsuccessfully throughout much of the Bush administration: forcing public companies to report the dangers they face from releasing carbon dioxide and its warming aftermath... Big emitters like oil and gas companies, for example, might have to formally reveal the output of their greenhouse gases and the disadvantages they face from federal efforts to charge polluters for every ton of carbon that's released. ...


They should have always had to do this!

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Sat, Jul 11, 2009
from CNN:
Greening the Internet: How much CO2 does this article produce?
Twenty milligrams; that's the average amount of carbon emissions generated from the time it took you to read the first two words of this article. Now, depending on how quickly you read, around 80, perhaps even 100 milligrams of C02 have been released. And in the several minutes it will take you to get to the end of this story, the number of milligrams of greenhouse gas emitted could be several thousand, if not more.... every second someone spends browsing a simple web site generates roughly 20 milligrams of C02. Whether downloading a song, sending an email or streaming a video, almost every single activity that takes place in the virtual environment has an impact on the real one. As millions more go online each year some researchers say the need to create a green Internet ecosystem is not only imperative but also urgent. ...


Turnabout's fair play!

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Thu, Jul 9, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
New reports debunk wind energy myths
Several of the most long-standing arguments against the expansion of wind power in the UK were comprehensively debunked today, with the release of two new reports arguing that wind intermittency will not undermine grid reliability and that small scale turbines have the potential to power over 800,000 homes.... [The first report] argues that the National Grid is already designed to manage variable inputs from wind farms and will be able to cope even as the amount of wind capacity increases to around 40 per cent of the UK's energy mix. It also states that far from reducing grid reliability an increase in wind capacity will improve grid resilience, noting that "thermal plant breakdowns generally pose more of a threat to the stability of electricity networks than the relatively benign variations in the output of wind plant."... The second report from the Energy Saving Trust is based on its trial of 57 small scale and micro wind turbines installed at different locations around the UK. It concludes that while turbines located in urban locations perform poorly there are significantly more suitable locations available for domestic turbines than has been previously thought. The study identifies 450,000 suitable domestic locations and calculates that well positioned small scale turbines with outputs of between 500W to 6kW could provide over three per cent of the UK's energy requirements, resulting in around two million tonnes in carbon emission savings. ...


Yeah, but what about all those coals in Newcastle?

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Tue, Jul 7, 2009
from Belfast Telegraph:
Have U2 created a monster with massive carbon footprint of 360 tour?
U2 and Bono's long-held commitment to "save the planet" has come into question after it emerged they have a carbon footprint big enough to fly the band to Mars and back.... according to an environmentalists' website, the band's 100-date 18-month world tour will see the multi-millionaires clock up an incredible 70,000 air miles in their fuel-guzzling private jet... U2's CO2 emissions are the equivalent of the waste created by 6,500 average British or Irish people in an entire year, or equal to leaving a standard 100 watt lightbulb on for 159,000 years. ...


Achtung, baby!

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Sat, Jun 27, 2009
from New Scientist:
Financial crisis may have been good for the climate
The financial crisis and high oil prices caused the growth of greenhouse gas emissions to drop by half in 2008. That is the conclusion of an analysis of preliminary data released yesterday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). The data, from oil giant BP, also show that for the first time developing nations were responsible for pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than developed nations and international transport combined. But Jos Olivier of the NEAA warns that it is difficult to say whether the slowing trend of emissions will continue next year. Emissions grew by 1.7 per cent in 2008, compared to 3.3 per cent in 2007. The agency's analysis suggests that this was mostly because fossil fuel consumption decreased globally for the first time since 1992. ...


I'm not sure that "slowing the growth" really constitutes good news.

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Sat, Jun 20, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Rising ocean temperatures near worst-case predictions
The ocean is warming about 50 per cent faster than reported two years ago, according to an update of the latest climate science. A report compiling research presented at a science congress in Copenhagen in March says recent observations are near the worst-case predictions of the 2007 report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In the case of sea-level rise, it is happening at an even greater rate than projected -- largely due to rising ocean temperatures causing thermal expansion of seawater.... The report, titled Climate change: Global risks, challenges & decisions, says greenhouse gas emissions needed to peak within the next six years for the world to [have] a chance of limiting global warming above pre-industrial levels to about two degrees. ...


Six years? That's more than half a decade away. What's the worry?

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Mon, Jun 15, 2009
from National Academies:
Science Academies Urge Faster Response to Climate Change
In a joint statement, the science academies of the G8 countries, plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, called on their leaders to "seize all opportunities" to address global climate change that "is happening even faster than previously estimated." The signers, which include U.S. National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone, urged nations at the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks to adopt goals aimed at reducing global emissions by 50 percent by 2050. The academies also urged the G8+5 governments, meeting in Italy next month, to "lead the transition to an energy efficient and low carbon economy, and foster innovation and research and development for both mitigation and adaptation technologies." ...


Who are these guys? Extremists?

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Fri, Jun 12, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Agricultural panel jeopardizes climate bill
Democratic lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday threatened to derail controversial legislation to combat climate change unless it does more to support forestry and farming interests. "As this bill stands today, I can't vote for it," said Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa. "I don't know anyone else here who can. We've got a lineup of people ... who are very uneasy." Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the agriculture panel chairman and an outspoken critic of the sweeping climate change legisl