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Mon, Jun 13, 2016
from Phys.org:
Researchers predict average-sized 'dead zone' for Gulf of Mexico in 2016
A University of Michigan researcher and colleagues from several institutions are forecasting an average but still large "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year. The forecast calls for an oxygen-depleted, or hypoxic, region of 5,898 square miles, an area roughly the size of Connecticut and similar to the past several years. The forecast was released today by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which sponsors the work. Farmland runoff containing fertilizers and livestock waste, much of it from as far away as the Corn Belt, is the main source of the nitrogen and phosphorus that cause the annual Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, which is also known as a dead zone. The gulf contains diverse marine life, including nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries. Organisms unable to leave the low-oxygen dead zone become stressed and can die of suffocation. ...


That's like determining the average monthly Christmas presents, based on December.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 24, 2015
from ThinkProgress:
Smithsonian Stands By Wildly Misleading Climate Change Exhibit Paid For By Kochs
But what may be most shocking of all is that the Smithsonian hasn't fixed the misleading evolution exhibit at its National Museum of Natural History, which thoroughly whitewashes the dangers of modern-day climate change. This "Hall of Human Origins" was made possible by a $15 million grant from billionaire polluter David Koch. It has now been five years since Climate Progress exposed the myriad flaws in the exhibit, a story the New Yorker and others picked up. Last week I spent some time going through the exhibit again with Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist and climate expert who has been featured by The Smithsonian. We were both stunned by the "Don't worry, be happy" picture it paints of current climate change.... In particular, the most embarrassing and scientifically misleading display the Smithsonian designed -- which directly suggests that humans can simply evolve to deal with global warming -- is still in the exhibit. The final section about the present and future has a nonsensical interactive video that lets visitors create a "future human" who evolves over a long period of time to a variety of changing conditions. ...


Those Koch brothers are such a pair of kidders!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 11, 2014
from World Meteorological Organization:
WMO GHG Bulletin: The State of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere Based on Global Observations through 2013
... Yet that buffering reaction consumes CO32-, reducing the chemical capacity of the near-surface ocean to take up more CO2. Currently that capacity is only 70 percent of what it was at the beginning of the industrial era, and it may well be reduced to only 20 percent by the end of the twenty-first century. The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, based on proxy-data from paleo archives. Acidification will continue to accelerate at least until mid-century, based on projections from Earth system models.... As a result of increased anthropogenic emissions, atmospheric CH4 reached 253 percent of its pre-industrial level (~722 ppb) in 2013. Atmospheric CH4 increased from ~1650 ppb in the early 1980s to a new high of 1824±2 ppb in 2013 (Figure 4 (a)). ...


What's a third of a billion years, when my energy-stock-intensive retirement is threatened?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Aug 17, 2014
from PhysOrg:
Mexico acid leak leaves orange river, toxic water
Yesenia is one of 20,000 people left without water since a massive sulfuric acid leak last week at the Buenavista copper mine in northwestern Mexico, one of the largest in the world. She waited in the sweltering heat with her mother and two daughters for water brought into the town of Arizpe by a tanker truck, but left empty-handed after the truck ran dry, unable to meet the demand from the seven affected towns.... An estimated 40,000 cubic meters (10.6 million gallons) of sulfuric acid, which is used to dissolve copper from ore for processing ,leaked out of a holding tank at the mine, owned by leading Latin American mining company Grupo Mexico. The spill happened on August 6, but the authorities say the company only informed them 24 hours later.... Juan Rebolledo, Grupo Mexico's vice president for international relations, downplayed the impact. "The content of these acids is not toxic in itself," he said on radio network Formula. "There's no problem, nor any serious consequence for the population, as long as we take adequate precautions and the company pours lime into the river, as it is currently doing." The mine has dumped 100 tonnes of lime into the Sonora to neutralize the acidity, according to the state government. ...


We've carefully calibrated our response to ensure that neither overalkalinity or overacidity results. There is no problem.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 17, 2014
from AFP, via Daily Times (Pakistan):
Australia abolishes divisive carbon tax
Australia on Thursday axed a divisive carbon tax after years of vexed political debate, in a move criticised as regressive and out of step with the rest of the world. The upper house Senate voted 39-32 to scrap the charge, which was imposed by the former Labor government on major polluters from 2012 in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.... Prime Minister Tony Abbott went to the polls in September with repealing the pollution levy as a central campaign platform, arguing the cost was being passed to consumers, resulting in higher utility bills. "Scrapping the carbon tax is a foundation of the government's economic action strategy," said Abbott, who once said evidence blaming mankind for climate change was "absolute crap". ...


Carbon taxes may be a third rail in politics, powered by demagoguery.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 8, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Battle Over Protection Of Obscure Bird Could Decide Fate Of Senate This November
An obscure, chicken-sized bird best known for its mating dance could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate in November. The federal government is considering listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species next year. Doing so could limit development, energy exploration, hunting and ranching on the 165 million acres of the bird's habitat across 11 Western states... Two Republican congressmen running for the U.S. Senate in Montana and Colorado, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner, are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the federal government from listing the bird for a decade as long as states try to protect it. ...


We're going to do our gosh-darned best to protect the planet!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 15, 2014
from Chronicle-Herald:
Fracking's magic-bullet moment fading fast
I was cruising the Internet a couple of weeks ago when this headline in the Los Angeles Times made my eyes pop: "U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey shale oil by 96 per cent." Ninety six per cent! Since the Monterey formation accounts for two-thirds of the supposed reserves available for fracking that would make the U.S. not only energy independent but a powerhouse exporter to the world, this was a big bubble bursting. Amazing that you haven't heard of it, but such is the tenacity of the world's built-in resistance to energy reality. ...


That bubble metaphor is so stale. The fracking ship came in and then left the station of the crossroads when failure was not an option. That's metaphoric flexibility. Got it?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 8, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Will New Climate Regulations Destroy the Economy? (Hint: No.)
There is a long history of claims that new rules to protect the environment or human health will seriously harm the United States economy. These claims are political fodder, they are provocative, and they are always wrong. In fact, the evidence shows the opposite: environmental regulations consistently produce enormous net benefits to the economy and to human health. In 2008, for example, the United States' environmental technologies and services industry supported 1.7 million jobs. The industry at that time generated approximately $300 billion in revenues and exported goods and services worth $44 billion... Some polluting industries might suffer, but it is past time to unleash American ingenuity in the name of reducing the devastating threat of climate change. ...


We can have our cake and eat it, too?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 30, 2014
from Environmental News Service:
Russia Ships First Arctic Oil, Fortifies Oil Defenses
Riding on his pride in the first export of Russian Arctic oil earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows oil and gas corporations to establish private armed security forces to defend their infrastructure, upping the ante for protestors. On the same day, April 22, Earth Day, Putin also met with the Russian Security Council. There he said, "Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats. Nothing can be treated as trivia here." ...


Don't let anyone tell you we are not at war.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 7, 2014
from Huffington Post:
New Government Report Warns of 'Cascading System Failures' Caused By Climate Change
For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the loss of electricity in the region meant that several major oil pipelines could not ship oil and gas for several days, and some refineries could not operate. Gas prices rose around the country. Other scenarios include a major storm wiping out communications lines, a blackout that cuts power to sewage treatment or wastewater systems, and a weather event that damages a bridge or major highway. In the latter case, the damage would not only cost money to repair, but could cause traffic backups or delays in the shipment of goods, which could in turn have wider economic implications. As the report describes it: "A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs associated with the cleanup, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened."; ...


Après moi, le cáscade.

ApocaDoc
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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?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 14, 2014
from The Independent:
Government accused of 'bribing local councils' on controversial fracking projects
MPs accused the government of seeking to bribe local councils to grant planning permission for controversial fracking projects today, just as new figures showed Britain's shale gas regulator has only six staff dedicated to fracking full time. They fear that the shale gas industry could be allowed to balloon without proper scrutiny and are especially concerned because, in only a fortnight, the regulator will be required to issue new fracking permits within two weeks, compared to the current 13-week wait. David Cameron declared that his government is "going all out for shale" as he announced that councils will be allowed to keep all of the business rates raised from fracking sites in a deal that is expected to generate millions of pounds for local authorities. His announcement came as the French energy giant Total became the first of the world's major oil companies to buy into Britain's shale gas industry, acquiring a stake in a project in Lincolnshire.... The change in business rates comes as Environment Agency – which regulates fracking as part of a much broader remit – prepares to cut about 15 per cent of its staff. An agency spokesman declined to comment on whether any of its fracking staff would be made redundant in the cuts. ...


It's so easy to make the future pay for today's convenience!

ApocaDoc
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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.

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Florida State University:
Snowball Effect of Overfishing Highlighted
Florida State University researchers have spearheaded a major review of fisheries research that examines the domino effect that occurs when too many fish are harvested from one habitat. The loss of a major species from an ecosystem can have unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. Moreover, these changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly, and are difficult to reverse. "You don't realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels," said Felicia Coleman, director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and a co-author on the study. ...


It's as if ecosystems evolved interdependently!

ApocaDoc
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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

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 16, 2013
from Reuters:
Keystone XL pipeline loses support from U.S. customer
Continental Resources, one of the companies that has committed to ship crude on TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now says the controversial pipeline is no longer needed. Continental has signed on to ship some 35,000 barrels of its own oil from the Bakken field of North Dakota on the 1,179-mile, $5.4-billion Keystone XL line. But construction of the pipeline has been delayed for years as TransCanada has sought regulatory approvals, and Continental has since turned to railroads to get its crude to oil refineries...The largest U.S. railroads will likely transport about 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013, versus just 9,500 in 2008, according to estimates from the Association of American Railroads. ...


At our current trajectory we will all end up tramps on those trains.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Nov 15, 2013
from Climate Central:
Panel Warns of "Catastrophic" Gap in Weather Satellite Data
Unless it acts quickly, the U.S. faces the likelihood of a "catastrophic" reduction in weather and climate data starting in 2016, resulting in less reliable weather and climate forecasts, a federally-commissioned review panel said on Thursday. The review team, which was comprised of veterans of the weather, space, and aerospace industries, found that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made progress fixing major problems in its satellite programs since the last outside review was completed in 2012, but that the agency has not done enough to mitigate the impacts of a satellite data gap... NOAA has warned that, starting in about 2016, there will be at least a year-long gap between the newest polar orbiting satellite's design lifetime and the scheduled launch date of its replacement. ...


Less data will make it easier to ignore our problems.

ApocaDoc
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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.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 7, 2013
from EurekAlert:
US media consumption to rise to 15.5 hours a day -- per person -- by 2015
A new study by a researcher at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, says that by 2015, the sum of media asked for and delivered to consumers on mobile devices and to their homes would take more than 15 hours a day to see or hear. That volume is equal to 6.9 million-million gigabytes of information, or a daily consumption of nine DVDs worth of data per person per day. So when do we have time to sleep or work if we spend every waking minute being exposed to myriad media? The answer is that media delivered is not a measure of attention or comprehension of that media.... "While machines can always overload us, it's more a question of, how can we design these systems to produce meaningful value? That's the critical challenge as we speed further into the age of digitally-based information," according to Short. ...


Ten hours is already committed to celebrities and scandals, two hours for Facebook, two hours for news about tv series and movies, an hour and a half for browsing YouTube and upworthy.com. Where is the time for hi-def 3D Nature retrospectives?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Associated Press:
Big freighter traverses Northwest Passage for 1st time
A large freighter completed a voyage through the hazardous Arctic Northwest Passage for the first time this week, showing the potential for cutting shipment times and costs as global warming opens new routes. The 75,000 deadweight-ton Nordic Orion, built in 2011 by a Japanese shipyard, left the Canadian Pacific port of Vancouver in early September and is scheduled to arrive in the Finnish port of Pori on October 7, according to AIS shipping data.... As the ice continues to melt, some experts have estimated that shipping via the Arctic could account for a quarter of the cargo traffic between Europe and Asia by 2030. ...


Let the feeding frenzy begin...

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 26, 2013
from Charlotte Observer:
North Carolina rejects $600,000 in grants to study fracking impact
North Carolina's environment agency has taken the unusual step of returning a federal grant to study streams and wetlands that could be harmed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had itself recommended last year that baseline water-quality data be collected where drilling might occur. The information would help document any problems linked to drilling. But under new leadership appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the department now says it doesn't want the $222,595 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The department also returned a second grant of $359,710 for wetlands monitoring. Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder said the fracking study will be done, but not now and not by the unit that applied for the grant. The Program Development Unit, which housed experts in aquatic ecosystems, is being disbanded in a reorganization of the division.... "This is not a grant being imposed on North Carolina by a federal agency that doesn't really know what we need," she said. "This was a grant being sought by DENR to meet known challenges." Diggins added: "It raises the concern of whether this is part of a trend of backing away from science." ...


Who needs science, when hope springs eternal?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 14, 2013
from The Independent:
Ancient wood to be felled for quarry
An area of ancient woodland the size of 16 football pitches in Kent will be destroyed to make way for a ragstone quarry after the government ruled that the commercial benefits of the development outweighed the habitat loss. In a ruling that raises fears for the future of more than 300 ancient woods around the country, local government secretary Eric Pickles yesterday waived through an application to extend a ragstone quarry into the 400-year old Oaken Wood near Maidstone. The resulting deforestation is thought to represent the largest loss of ancient woodland in the UK in the past five years. It would destroy about a sixth of the sweet chestnut coppice, which supports a range of plants and rare animals but is best known for two bat species - the Common Pipstrelle and the Natterer's bat.... "With just 2 per cent of ancient woodland cover remaining, we cannot afford to lose any more," she added, saying that the cover has been steadily declining in the 15 years since her group started recording the woodlands at risk from development. ...


It's not as if stuff isn't getting older every day!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 20, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Carbon-Intensive Investors Risk $6 Trillion 'Bubble,' Study Says
The top 200 oil, gas and mining companies spent $674 billion last year finding and developing fossil fuel resources, according to research by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and a climate-change research unit at the London School of Economics. If this rate continues for the next decade some $6 trillion risks being wasted on "unburnable" or stranded assets, according to the report, released today.... Bonds of fossil fuel companies could be vulnerable to ratings downgrades, pushing up their financing costs while equity valuations could plummet as much as 60 percent if industries become less carbon-intensive, the study showed, citing HSBC Holdings Plc analysis. The analysis shows that 60 to 80 percent of coal, oil and gas reserves of the 200 public companies studied could be unburnable if the world is to curb emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, a United Nations target. ...


Massive bubble, toil and trouble, BAU, and down we double.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 19, 2013
from Canadian Press, via HuffingtonPost:
Canada Overfishing: Cod Stock, Other Species May Never Bounce Back, Study Says
The recovery of overexploited fish populations such as cod has been slower than expected and many depleted stocks may never be able to bounce back, a new study says. The study, to be published Friday in the journal Science, was compiled by researchers who examined 153 fish and invertebrate stocks from around the world. Most fish species are resilient enough to recover within a decade if swift action is taken to reduce pressure on depleted stocks, the researchers say. "But when you don't take action rapidly ... not only does it result in a much longer potential recovery time, but the uncertainty as to whether recovery will happen at all increases exponentially," said Jeff Hutchings, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University and one of the authors of the study.... "Our study really suggests that recovery is quite unlikely now for cod because of our failure to act when we could have." ...


I suppose those "experts" think there's some lesson to be learned.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 15, 2013
from KIRO TV, through DesdemonaDespair:
Eagle heads, bear penises, cougar meat part of local wildlife black market
An exclusive KIRO 7 Investigation uncovers stunning proof of animals being killed illegally to sell their parts for profit.... He found bald eagle heads turned into rattles. Bear gall bladders sold for medicine. And even an entire cougar delivered right to the back door of a restaurant. There are criminals in Washington illegally killing animals every day and selling their meat and body parts on the black market. It could threaten entire species.... Undercover detectives say people contacted them wanting to illegally buy and sell everything from bears, cougars, elk and eagles, with no concern about wiping out the animals. "For them, it's not a living animal, it's a way to make a buck," said Hobbs. ...


Everybody's gotta make a buck (or an eagle, or a cougar) somehow.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 14, 2013
from Crosscut:
Businesses balk at dealing with ocean threat
Business interests say a proposal to deal with the rising acidity of Washington's coastal waters is "not ready for prime time." The Association of Washington Business and the Washington Farm Bureau lined up Wednesday against a bill to create a council to advise the state government on how to tackle ocean acidification. The bill also calls for considering the acidity of water runoff in urban planning efforts. "Most of those recommendations (by a 2012 scientific, business and legislative panel on how to deal with ocean acidification) the business community doesn't believe are ready for prime time," AWB representative Brandon Houskeeper told the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. ...


It's the reruns that'll be a bitch.

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.
Sat, Feb 9, 2013
from Lester Brown, via TreeHugger.com:
New Era of Food Scarcity Echoes Collapsed Civilizations
This new era is one of rising food prices and spreading hunger. On the demand side of the food equation, population growth, rising affluence, and the conversion of food into fuel for cars are combining to raise consumption by record amounts. On the supply side, extreme soil erosion, growing water shortages, and the earth's rising temperature are making it more difficult to expand production. Unless we can reverse such trends, food prices will continue to rise and hunger will continue to spread, eventually bringing down our social system. Can we reverse these trends in time? Or is food the weak link in our early twenty-first-century civilization, much as it was in so many of the earlier civilizations whose archeological sites we now study? ...


More than an "echo," I'm afraid the rising feedbacks will amplify themselves into a final, desperate, shrieking scream. That, or we could just start changing things, today.

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Sun, Jan 27, 2013
from Guardian:
Nicholas Stern: 'I got it wrong on climate change - it's far, far worse'
Lord Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says he underestimated the risks, and should have been more "blunt" about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures. In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: "Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then." The Stern review, published in 2006, pointed to a 75 percent chance that global temperatures would rise by between two and three degrees above the long-term average; he now believes we are "on track for something like four ". Had he known the way the situation would evolve, he says, "I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise." ...


In a few years, we may all have 20-20 hindsight.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Dallas Morning News:
McKinney scales back green initiatives, disbands environmental office
The city of McKinney logo signals a municipal interest in the environment -- it features a green tree and the slogan "Unique by nature.” But this year that interest has come under greater scrutiny. Council members and city staff have re-evaluated how much money and effort should be spent on sustainability efforts. And residents have flooded the council with emails questioning the motives behind green initiatives, bike lanes and sustainability plans. Now, amid pressure from some outspoken groups, the city is scaling back its environmental programs. The city's three-person Office of Environmental Stewardship has been disbanded, with the one remaining employee moving to the public works department. The City Council has scrapped the idea of implementing a sustainability master plan. And city staff is scaling back its effort to win environmental or conservation grants ...


We can't afford to save our lives?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 8, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Brown acts to halt surging California gasoline prices
Gov. Jerry Brown intervened in the unrelenting climb of gasoline prices by calling for the immediate release of a cheaper, but less environmentally friendly, blend of gasoline. Brown directed the California Air Resources Board on Sunday to permit oil companies to start selling winter-blend gasoline, which evaporates more quickly in warm weather than the summer blend. Normally, winter blend isn't permitted to be released until Oct. 31. ...


Whatever it takes ... to keep driving.

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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?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 10, 2012
from Anchorage Daily News:
Shell begins offshore drilling in Chukchi Sea
After a day of slower-than-expected preparations in the Chukchi Sea, Shell Alaska officially began drilling into the seafloor above its Burger prospect at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the company said. The action marks the first drilling offshore in the Alaska Arctic in two decades and is being closely watched by Alaskans and the oil industry -- and criticized by environmentalists... Shell has invested close to $5 billion in its quest to drill in the Alaska Arctic. A federal government assessment last year estimated the Alaska Arctic offshore region holds nearly 27 billion barrels of "undiscovered technically recoverable" oil. ...


As of today, the planet is sooooooo Chukchied.

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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from Texas A&M University:
Antarctica at Risk from Human Activities
The continent of Antarctica is at risk from human activities and other forces, and environmental management is needed to protect the planet's last great wilderness area, says an international team of researchers, including a Texas A&M University oceanographer, in a paper published in the current issue of Science magazine.... Antarctica faces growing threats from global warming, loss of sea ice and landed ice, increased tourism, over-fishing in the region, pollution and invasive species creeping into the area. One of the longer-term concerns that may present the greatest threat overall is the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploitation on the continent and in the surrounding ocean... ...


Why should anywhere on the planet be immune from this virus called humanity?

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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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Mon, Jun 4, 2012
from Washington Post:
Canadian government overhauling environmental rules to aid oil extraction
For years, Canada has been seen as an environmental leader on the world stage, pushing other nations to tackle acid rain, save the ozone layer and sign global treaties to protect biodiversity. Those were the old days. The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is rewriting the nation's environmental laws to speed the extraction and export of oil, minerals and other materials to a global market clamoring for Canada's natural resources. ...


Come on, let's hurry up and make some money!

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Tue, May 29, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Amazon in danger as Brazil moves forward with bill, critics say
The Brazilian government is pressing forward with controversial legislation that critics say will lead to widespread destruction of the Amazon rain forest. After months of heated discussion, President Dilma Rousseff on Monday presented a final version of the bill that was heavily influenced by the country's powerful agricultural lobby. The update to the country's 1965 Forestry Code would reduce both the amount of vegetation landowners must preserve and the future penalties paid for those who currently flout environmental laws. After valuable wood is sold, much of the land in deforested areas ends up being cleared for grazing cattle and agriculture. ...


Rain forest... down the drain.

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Tue, May 15, 2012
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
The world is not enough: soon we'll need three planet Earths
HUMANS are using so many resources that by 2030 even an extra planet will not be enough to sustain our demands, a report has warned. Green group the WWF concludes in its Living Planet Report 2012 that mankind is already living as though we have one and a half planets at our disposal. By 2030 even having two planets at our disposal will not be enough and if lifestyles do not change, by 2050 we would need almost three. ...


I'm seeing two planets right now!

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Sat, Apr 7, 2012
from ArtVoice:
Son of Frackenstein: Even Worse is Planned
Welcome to the post peak oil energy economy. What's online to follow fracking is even scarier. The problem is we're addicted to oil, and like most addicts, we can't take that first step and admit our addiction. For over a century, we mostly glided, enjoying the high that cheap oil gave our economy and consumptive lifestyles, while not facing many consequences -- at least none that we could yet recognize. But, like the meth-head whose body was rotting from the inside out, our addiction was poisoning our atmosphere, our oceans and in places, our land and fresh water. Now we're seeing the results of that five generation-long binge.... As China and India develop as oil hungry consumer cultures, and as hydrocarbon addiction grows amid a growing global population, energy prices will continue to rise, opening the door of economic opportunity to a plethora of fracking-like energy extraction technologies. These are wildly irresponsible, terribly dangerous processes that only an addiction-maddened mind would contemplate, and only a greed-addled sociopath would execute. Think of this as taking fracking to the next level so that we can continue to speed along on our highway to hell--peak oil, and the earth, be damned. ...


The problem is, we're really high-functioning addicts.

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Fri, Mar 23, 2012
from CBC:
Don't ease fish protection rules, PM urged by 625 scientists
In a letter sent Thursday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield, a group of 625 scientists urged the government to abandon changes to the Fisheries Act outlined in an internal government document leaked late last week. The document suggested the act is to be revised so Ottawa would be responsible for fish, but not their surrounding habitat. The act currently requires projects such as oil pipeline and road culvert construction to show their plans will preserve fish habitat. "Removing those provisions … would basically give proponents of projects license to do anything they pleased," said David Schindler, the University of Alberta ecologist who is the lead author of the letter.... Schindler said the signatories of his letter include many national and international prize-winning scientists and the number of them supporting the letter indicates how important habitat protection is. ...


What? 625 billion fish want to sign the petition?

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012
from Fuel Fix:
Americans support Keystone XL pipeline, poll says
Americans who have heard about the Keystone XL pipeline overwhelmingly support the proposal to carry Canadian oil across the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, according to a Pew Research poll released Thursday. Among those who knew about the pipeline, 66 percent said the federal government should approve the project. The poll found only 23 percent opposed it. ...


Yeah, but Americans also support rampant consumerism and the right to pollute with impunity.

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012
from FOX News:
Al Gore's role in Apple's global warming policy questioned at shareholder event
Former Vice President Al Gore's positions on climate change came under fire at Apple's annual shareholders meeting on Thursday when a non-profit group accused Gore, an Apple board member, of using his position to influence Apple's public stand on global warming. Representatives of the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research -- which holds shares in Apple -- said the consumer electronics giant's board should investigate whether Gore had influenced the company's decision in 2009 to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We are concerned that Apple's policy on greenhouse gas regulations was developed to personally benefit a board member in violation of the Company's Business Conduct Policy," read the group's claim, emailed to shareholders prior to the meeting and labeled "Proposal No. 4." The group alleged that Gore's personal portfolio of energy and green-industry stocks stood to gain if the global warming policies he advocates become law. The proposal failed, having garnered a tiny fraction of stockholder votes. But Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, told FoxNews.com he stands by the proposal. ...


Think different.

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Thu, Feb 9, 2012
from MarketWatch:
How you can profit from the end of civilization: Doomsday Capitalists' winning strategy commentary
Doomsday Capitalists know how to get rich by playing the short-term stock market and ignoring long-term warnings of a global economic collapse. How? They have a secret weapon, a Doomsday Capitalists Winning Strategy.... So how can average Main Street investors build a winning portfolio? ... Start by thinking about Mad Max and Swiss Family Robinson. ... Then add a positive spin to Diamond's 12-part analysis of the historical collapse of civilizations. ... Mix in the Doomsday Capitalists short-term strategy. ... Ignore future consequences because you know you won't be around later, and hope new solutions will emerge through new technologies?. Well folks, if Biggs can achieve this goal successfully for Super Rich clients who are preparing their well-stocked farming compounds for the "collapse of the civilization," you can too. Start by picking some blue-chip stocks that fit Diamond's 12-part "Collapse Equation," hoping that while Diamond warns that throughout history politicians inevitably fail to plan or act in time to avoid a collapse, this time, maybe, just maybe, our profit-making capitalist giants will finally wake up to Adam Smith's vision and protect both their own self-interest and the public interest, thus reversing the inevitable historical trend into a collapse.... ...


Investment strategy... is destiny.

ApocaDoc
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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.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Dec 11, 2011
from Guardian:
Climate deal: A guarantee our children will be worse off than us
The loans in euros, dollars and pounds will be called in within days, weeks, and months. But the environmental debt - run up by many decades of dumping carbon dioxide waste in the atmosphere - won't be due for full repayment before 2020, according to the plan from Durban. If this roadmap to agree a global deal to tackle climate change by 2015, which would take force by 2020, is a triumph, it is a pitiful one. It aspires to achieve in four year's time what was deemed essential by the world's governments in 2007, but crashed at the Copenhagen summit in 2009. That eight-year failure is why the ecological debt will inevitably transform into a new economic debt dwarfing our current woes. Like a loan-shark's debt, the cost of halting global warming - and coping with the impacts already certain - spirals higher and higher the longer you leave repayment. At the moment, as record rises in carbon emissions show, we are paying back nothing. ...


Are you kidding? We'll just collateralize the debt and sell futures on it. It's worked so far.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Antibiotics in Swine Feed Encourage Microorganism Gene Exchange
A study to be published in the online journal mBio® on Nov. 29 shows that adding antibiotics to swine feed causes microorganisms in the guts of these animals to start sharing genes that could spread antibiotic resistance. Livestock farms use antibiotic drugs regularly, and not just for curing sick animals. Antimicrobial drugs are used as feed additives to boost animal growth, a profitable but controversial practice that is now banned in the European Union and under scrutiny here in the United States. Using antibiotics in animal feed saves farms money, but opponents argue the practice encourages antimicrobial resistance among bacteria that could well be consumed by humans.... Prophages underwent a significant increase in induction when exposed to antibiotics, indicating that medicating the animals led to increased movement of prophage genes among gut bacteria. "Induction of the prophages is showing us that antibiotics are stimulating gene transfer," says Allen. "This is significant because phages have previously been shown to carry bacterial fitness genes such as antibiotic resistance genes." ...


I don't think we want to be turning amateur phages into prophages, do we?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 27, 2011
from Palm Beach Post News:
Wetlands restoration panel worries over loss of money for monitoring
The monitoring programs that reveal how Everglades restoration plans are working -- or not -- have been slashed by 60 percent overall -- leaving gaping holes in programs that predict algal blooms, monitor pollution, provide real-time water level data and assess the survival rates of endangered species. Gone altogether are programs that monitor the well-being of alligators, crocodiles and pink shrimp, indicator species that reveal the health of the entire ecosystem. Cuts to wading bird monitoring in Lake Okeechobee will leave scientists unable to accurately predict the start, peak and end of the nesting season -- benchmarks needed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between restoration efforts and wildlife. "Basically, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee are like patients in an emergency room," said Paul Gray, science coordinator for Lake Okeechobee watershed programs at Audubon of Florida. "If you have a patient in the emergency room, the last thing you want to do is shut off all the monitoring equipment." ...


Can't they, like, divine the answers?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from BBC:
Lack of outdoor play linked to short-sighted children
The time children spend outdoors could be linked to a reduced risk of being short-sighted, research suggests. An analysis of eight previous studies by University of Cambridge researchers found that for each additional hour spent outside per week, the risk of myopia reduced by 2 percent. Exposure to natural light and time spent looking at distant objects could be key factors, they said. ...


I take this metaphorically.

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Tue, Oct 18, 2011
from Fox Business:
US House Votes 267-144 To Block EPA Coal-Ash Regulation
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the waste from coal-fired power plants as a hazardous material, taking a swipe at a long-running movement to establish stricter protections against the toxin-laden waste from leaching into the water. "This is a very scary prospect for communities living near coal-ash dumps--it's a huge step backwards," said Lisa Evans, an attorney with Earthjustice who has spent years pushing for federal regulation of coal-waste sites. Republicans, who have pushed all year to rein in the EPA, have singled out the agency's proposed coal-ash regulations as an example of regulatory overreach. ...


Buncha ashholes.

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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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Sat, Oct 8, 2011
from Post Carbon Institute Energy Bulletin:
The peak oil initiation
I may be wrong, but I've long thought that one question above all would haunt my imagined historian of our future: why did we do it? Given that our entire civilization had plenty of warning, and that ten minutes of unprejudiced thought ought to have been enough to demonstrate to anybody the absurdity of expecting to get away with infinite economic growth on a finite planet, why didn't we do what must, to the eyes of the future, look like the obviously right decision, and downshift to a less energy- and resource-intensive steady state economy while we had the chance? Why, instead, did we keep on lurching blindly forward on a one-way street headed straight to history's compost bin, all the while angrily shouting down the few that tried to warn us of where we were going? ...


Because it's obvious: home values will go up forever. Right?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 4, 2011
from New York Times:
TransCanada Pipeline Foes See U.S. Bias in E-Mails
With the Obama administration about to decide whether to green-light a controversial pipeline to take crude oil from Canada's oil sands to the Gulf Coast, e-mails released Monday paint a picture of a sometimes warm and collaborative relationship between lobbyists for the company building the billion-dollar pipeline and officials in the State Department, the agency that has final say over the pipeline... The e-mails, the second batch to be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, show a senior State Department official at the United States Embassy in Ottawa procuring invitations to Fourth of July parties for TransCanada officials, sharing information with the company about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's meetings and cheering on TransCanada in its quest to gain approval of the giant pipeline, which could carry 700,000 barrels a day. ...


We're all just one big happy family burning down our house!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 30, 2011
from Organic Gardening, via HuffingtonPost:
Are Herbicide Residues In Compost Damaging Plants?
Since 1999, gardeners have experienced serious problems with herbicides that do not readily break down in compost. Residential lawn trimmings, hay and straw, municipal green waste, and cow and horse manure are all common compost ingredients that have become vectors for delivering unwanted chemicals, causing plant damage in home gardens. The offending active ingredients--the part of an herbicide that actually kills weeds--include clopyralid, aninopyralid, and the newest, aminocyclopyrachlor. This last is now attracting attention as the active ingredient in DuPont's brand-named Imprelis.... Agroecologists and weed scientists are concerned about the potential misuse of these herbicides because of their relatively long persistence in the environment and potential for injury to nontargeted plants, says Ryan, adding that the companies that make and market them emphasize the products' safety to livestock but aren't doing enough in noting posttreatment problems among plants.... Ohio State University researchers found that when grass was treated with aminocyclopyrachlor and composted, it degraded by about 60 percent over 200 days, with plenty of the active ingredient remaining to do damage to susceptible crop plants--including beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.... This past summer, additional problems were discovered as tree damage and death--mostly to shallow-rooted trees such as spruces and white pines--linked to Imprelis use were reported in more than 11 states from the Midwest to the East Coast. Still, DuPont and the Scotts MiracleGro Company are collaborating to develop and market to homeowners a new combination lawn fertilizer/herbicide containing aminocyclopyrachlor. Additional testing is being conducted, "so that we can provide the clearest guidance possible to consumers regarding the composting of grass clippings," says Lance Latham, spokesman for Scotts. ...


I don't think we need an Energizer herbicide.

ApocaDoc
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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 16, 2011
from Washington Post:
White House mulls stricter smog standards
The White House is engaged in an intense debate over how much it should tighten national smog standards, an issue that has sparked a battle between business and public health groups. On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would "shortly" issue the final rules, which were delayed three times last year and again late last month. As the Office of Management and Budget reviews the agency's final proposal, which was submitted July 11, business groups have joined many state and local officials in launching a concerted push to delay any new standards until 2013...While the most polluted areas would have up to 20 years to meet the new standards, business leaders suggest it could delay the permitting of not only new industrial facilities but the expansion of existing ones. ...


These darn standards are in the way of us ruining the planet!

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Wed, Aug 3, 2011
from Politico:
Energy programs prepare for debt deal pain
Popular energy and environmental programs should prepare for a decade of spending cuts under the debt deal reached late Sunday between the White House and congressional leaders. Less clear, however, is the effect that the landmark agreement will have on popular tax incentives for the oil, gas, renewable and other energy industries. Constituencies fighting in the trenches for every dollar insist that their programs are small relative to other big-ticket items in the annual appropriations process. But there's still plenty of concern that everything from wastewater grants to air pollution monitoring and biofuels research and development will face the scalpel as lawmakers start cutting about $2.7 trillion in spending over the next decade. ...


What's another lost decade?

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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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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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Wed, Jul 13, 2011
from LA Times:
WikiLeaks behind-the-scenes politics of oil pipeline from Canada
But a 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa suggests the scale may have already been tipped. The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department's then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having "alleviated" Canadian officials' concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving "oil sands messaging," including "increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories." Goldwyn now works on Canadian oil sands issues at Sutherland, a Washington lobbying firm, and recently testified before Congress in favor of building the 36-inch underground pipeline, Keystone XL. Environmentalists and industry experts say the cable is among several examples from unguarded moments and public documents that signal the administration's willingness to push ahead with the controversial pipeline, even as its agencies conduct environmental and economic reviews.... Keystone XL would thread through the vast Ogallala aquifer, the main drinking water source for the U.S. Midwest. The Keystone I system has had a dozen leaks in the last year, stoking fears of a spill in the aquifer from the new pipeline. More environmental concerns arose this month after an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked up to 42,000 gallons into the Yellowstone River in Montana, under which Keystone XL would also run. Keystone XL's backers dismiss the environmental claims as overblown and contend that the oil industry is working hard in Alberta on land reclamation and reducing emissions. TransCanada has said that the Keystone I spills were small and easily cleaned up. Environmentalists remain skeptical. ...


Don't worry, partner. We'll put the "eh" in "right of w'eh" for ya.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 10, 2011
from DesdemonaDespair:
Fracking fluids poison a national forest
A new study has found that wastewater from natural gas hydrofracturing in a West Virginia national forest quickly wiped out all ground plants, killed more than half of the trees and caused radical changes in soil chemistry. These results argue for much tighter control over disposal of these "fracking fluids," contends Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The new study by Mary Beth Adams, a U.S. Forest Service researcher, appears in the July-August issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Quality. She looked at the effects of land application of fracking fluids on a quarter-acre section of the Fernow Experimental Forest within the Monongahela National Forest. More than 75,000 gallons of fracking fluids, which are injected deep underground to free shale gas and then return to the surface, were applied to the assigned plot over a two day period during June 2008. The following effects were reported in the study: * Within two days all ground plants were dead; * Within 10 days, leaves of trees began to turn brown. * Within two years more than half of the approximately 150 trees were dead; and * "Surface soil concentrations of sodium and chloride increased 50-fold as a result of the land application of hydrofracturing fluids..." These elevated levels eventually declined as chemical leached off-site. The exact chemical composition of these fluids is not known because the chemical formula is classified as confidential proprietary information. "The explosion of shale gas drilling in the East has the potential to turn large stretches of public lands into lifeless moonscapes," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that land disposal of fracking fluids is common and in the case of the Fernow was done pursuant to a state permit. "This study suggests that these fluids should be treated as toxic waste." ...


If the chemicals were applied where they belonged, a mile underground, they'd be no trouble at all!

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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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Sun, Jun 26, 2011
from New York Times:
Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush
Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States. But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells. In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves.... "Money is pouring in" from investors even though shale gas is "inherently unprofitable," an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. "Reminds you of dot-coms." "The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work," an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009. ...


Madoff... Enron... Disaster Capitalism... Inverse Credit Default Swaps... what is the best comparator?

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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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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from University of York, via EurekAlert:
Ban on discards 'will boost fisheries', says new research
Banning fisheries discards in the North Sea will promote fish stock recovery and increase fishermen's incomes, according to new research by scientists at the University of York. In the North Sea up to 75 per cent of fish are currently dumped after being caught, with the result that many fisheries are now badly overfished. In comparison, discards were banned in Norwegian waters in the late 1980s and their fisheries are now some of the most prosperous in the world.... But Dr Beukers-Stewart says: "Discards simply squander valuable resources. Our research demonstrates that while there may be some short-term costs, a ban on discards is essential if European fish stocks are to become sustainable in the long term." ...


I think he's saying "thank you." Or is that "took you long enough"?

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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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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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Tue, Jun 14, 2011
from New York Times:
Europe Braces for Serious Crop Losses, Blackouts as Record Drought Persists
One of the driest spring seasons on record in northern Europe has sucked soils dry and sharply reduced river levels to the point that governments are starting to fear crop losses and France, in particular, is bracing for blackouts as its river-cooled nuclear power plants may be forced to shut down. French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire warned this week that the warmest and driest spring in half a century could slash wheat yields and might even push up world prices despite the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's predicting a bumper global crop due to greater plantings.... And the French government has set up a committee to keep an eye on the country's electricity supply situation and monitor river levels, as 44 of the 58 nuclear reactors that supply 80 percent of France's electricity are cooled by river water. The problem appears to be not that the reactors might overheat because of the lack of water but that the depleted rivers might overheat, creating ecological havoc, when the water returns to them after cooling the reactors. ...


Old Man River is looking hot.

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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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Wed, May 25, 2011
from Politico:
Cold shoulder for climate change
Climate scientists are in a tough spot. They have never been more certain about what they know. Powerful new satellites can hone in on mountainous regions to measure ice melt. Stronger computers model changes in disruptive weather patterns. Scientists are even more comfortable attributing climate change to visible effects around the globe, from retreating Himalayan glaciers to southwestern U.S. droughts and acidifying oceans. Yet scientists are still stuck in the mud trying to get that message out in Washington, where House Republicans made one of their first orders of business passing legislation to zero out research budgets for domestic and international climate efforts and unraveling a key EPA declaration that humans have played a critical role in changing the planet. ...


Oh you Republicans what a fantastical world you inhabit!

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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 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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Tue, May 10, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Ecologists raise alarm over Russia's Olympics
With just over 1,000 days left before the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia is pulling out all the stops to get ready in a drive activists say is leaving a devastating toll on the environment... "In general, environmental damage in Sochi is much worse than what we expected in the early stages of construction planning," said Suren Gazaryan of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus....A mudslide from an illegal dump up the hill tore through the park and filled the river's banks with debris from tunnel construction and other waste in January. "Clearly leaving thousands of tons of waste on a steep hillside is not a good idea, but its convenient, and it can't be stopped," Gazaryan said as he picked off a chunk of the black substance for testing. ...


Maybe they ought to hold the ApocOlympics instead.

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Thu, May 5, 2011
from Greenwire:
'Anti-Environmental' House Freshman Leads Charge Against Obama's Clean Water Agenda
Just months into his first term, Rep. Bob Gibbs admits he has much to learn. But the Ohio Republican holds strong reservations about environmental regulation in general... Republicans across the United States capitalized in the last election on a similar business-now, environment-later message, stoking an anti-incumbent mood among voters still smarting from the recession with hopeful promises of business-friendly, job-creating policies. Few in the GOP capitalized as much as this 56-year-old political unknown from rural southeastern Ohio. This white-haired Midwestern farmer has since emerged as critic-in-chief of a top Obama administration priority: strengthening clean water protections. ...


Because who needs clean water when we can be making some dirty money?

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Sun, May 1, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard's Stavins Says
The U.S. probably won't take significant steps to curb climate change until an environmental disaster sways public view and prompts political action, Robert Stavins of Harvard University said. "It's unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction," Stavins, director of Harvard's Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg's Boston office.... Stavins, an economist, is a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in 2007 that scientists are more than 90 percent certain that humans are causing global warming.... "There's a legit reason for the public to be skeptical about climate change because they don't see it," Stavins said. Grabbing the public's attention would require a dramatic development, such as a "well-observed melting of parts of polar ice caps that result in some amount of sea-level rise," Stavins said. ...


Yeah, whaddaya expect from the public, abstract thinking?

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Mon, Apr 25, 2011
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Greenpeace activists hijack Scots oil rig bound for Greenland
GREENPEACE activists climbed aboard an oil rig off Turkey yesterday to prevent it leaving for Greenland to begin deep-water drilling in the Arctic. Eleven activists used speedboats to intercept and then climb on to the Leiv Eiriksson after it had left a port in Istanbul. They climbed the rig's derrick, unfurling a banner that read: "Stop Arctic destruction" and "Go Beyond Oil, Choose Clean Energy." The platform, bound for Greenland's Baffin Bay, did not stop and stayed on course, heading towards the Dardanelles strait with the activists on board, Deniz Sozudogru, a Greenpeace spokeswoman said. ...


This has all the makings of an ongoing drama.

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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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Fri, Apr 22, 2011
from Reuters:
GOP Begins New Push to Delay EPA Rules on Toxic Power Plant Emissions
Under pressure from industry, Congressional Republicans are urging the U.S. EPA to further delay long-overdue rules that would limit more than 80 air toxics emitted by coal-burning power plants, barely a month after the agency announced them. At least one lawmaker, Rep. Edward Whitfield of Kentucky -- a state which gets more than 90 percent of its power from coal -- has said he will soon introduce legislation to postpone implementation of the regulations... According to EPA, the mercury and air toxics standards alone would prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks each year. Utilities and business groups say the anti-pollution rules would be too costly to implement and would force early shutdowns of power plants, threatening jobs and economic recovery. ...


I know I'd rather die than watch a poor power plant shut down.

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Thu, Apr 21, 2011
from Scientific American:
Seafood At Risk: Dispersed Oil Poses a Long-Term Threat
After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, more than 200 million gallons of oil flowed out of the Macondo well and into the Gulf of Mexico before the leak was finally plugged. Add to that the nearly 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit subsequently applied to the spill and it's no wonder that the government, scientists and the public alike are wondering what sort of effects this chemical cocktail will have on the Gulf ecosystem, and especially seafood. While the mainstream media has widely covered the debate over seafood safety, these stories do not delve into the science behind the issue, nor do they highlight the dangers that chemically dispersed oil poses to the marine food web. Not only is there concern about the current safety of Gulf seafood, but there are concerns about the long-term effects dispersed oil may have on fish populations, further jeopardizing Gulf fisheries in the future.... The current FDA risk assessment protocol is based on a 176-pound man eating four shrimp a week. That doesn't account for women or children, whose body weights are lower, let alone local seafood consumption along the Gulf coast. "Nobody in the Gulf really eats four shrimp a week, so it's unrealistic the way they are assessing risk of consumption," says Shaw.... Solomon reports that many people she talked to on the Gulf coast told her, "Four shrimp?! That's not even one po' boy!" ...


Long-term threats are tomorrow's problem.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Discovery News:
As Gold Prices Go Up, Forests Are Coming Down
A worldwide growth in the price of gold has accelerated the pace of deforestation in some of the most pristine parts of the Peruvian Amazon, where miners are cutting down trees in order to extract the valuable natural resource. From 2003 to 2009, found a new study, the rate of deforestation in two gold-mining areas increased six-fold alongside record-setting leaps in the international price of gold. During one two-year period, as gold prices climbed steadily, forests disappeared at a rate of 4.5 American football fields a day from one of the two sites. Alongside the accelerating paces of both mining and deforestation, the study found, there has also been an exponential rise in the use of mercury, which helps miners extract gold from the Earth. ...


Someday soon we'll realize these trees were worth their weight in gold.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Associated Press:
AP Enterprise: BP is looking strong a year later
It's hard to tell that just a year ago BP was reeling from financial havoc and an American public out for blood. The oil giant at the center of one of the world's biggest environmental crises is making strong profits again, its stock has largely rebounded, and it is paying dividends to shareholders once more. It is also pursuing new ventures from the Arctic to India. It is even angling to explore again in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it holds more leases than any competitor. ...


Oil is thicker than blood.

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Wed, Apr 6, 2011
from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute:
10,000 shipping containers per year in ocean
Each year, an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall off container ships at sea. Although many of these containers float at the surface for months, most eventually sink to the seafloor. No one knows what happens to these containers once they reach the deep seafloor.... Shortly after midnight on February 26, [2004], when the Med Taipei was directly offshore of Monterey Bay, stacks of containers began to break free of their lashings and topple sideways. Fifteen of the 40-foot-long containers fell overboard into the churning sea. Yet the ship continued south. By the time the ship reached the Port of Los Angeles, nine more containers had fallen overboard, and another 21 lay crumpled on deck. You would have thought a disaster like this would have made the national news. But no one was hurt, and there is no legal requirement for shipping companies to report such losses. No government officials knew about this debacle except perhaps a few customs inspectors. ...


We prefer to think of them as "time capsules for the future."

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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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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from St. Petersburg Times:
Bill will adversely affect environment, but will it create jobs?
Builders of homes, offices, roads and other projects have been allowed to wipe out more wetlands in Florida than in any other state. But now, in the name of sparking job growth, state lawmakers want to make it even easier to develop wetlands and just write a check for the damage. The 63 pages of CS/HB 991, which passed its latest committee vote Wednesday 14-0, are packed with changes to the state's wetlands, water pollution and development permitting rules. The bill makes it easier to build roads through wetlands, easier for polluters to escape punishment, easier to open new phosphate mines and harder for regulators to yank a permit from someone who did things wrong. ...


No worries. All this raping of the earth will create plenty of jobs in the Post-Apocalypse.

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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio poised to take center stage in natural gas drilling debate as it considers tapping park lands
...geologists, energy experts and gas well drillers fully believe Ohio might be sitting atop a gold mine of natural gas embedded in the long-known, but only recently accessible shale deposit. They also are hopeful that those riches will soon be more available now that Ohio Gov. John Kasich favors and the legislature is considering allowing drilling companies on state park land to reach those deposits... The drilling and fracking questions are particularly acute in Ohio right now because of the state's financial woes and the promise that leasing of land for drilling could net untold millions of dollars, some of which could help cover a $500 million backlog in maintenance and repairs in the parks themselves. ...


I prefer we frack the wealthiest two percent instead.

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Mon, Mar 14, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
EPA Tangles With New Critic: Labor
The Obama administration's environmental agenda, long a target of American business, is beginning to take fire from some of the Democratic Party's most reliable supporters: Labor unions. Several unions with strong influence in key states are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency soften new regulations aimed at pollution associated with coal-fired power plants. Their contention: Roughly half a dozen rules expected to roll out within the next two years could put thousands of jobs in jeopardy and damage the party's 2012 election prospects. "If the EPA issues regulations that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Republicans will blast the President with it over and over," says Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America. "Not just the President. Every Democratic [lawmaker] from those states." ...


Those of you hoping the US will get its shit together... are dreaming!

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Sun, Mar 13, 2011
from New York Times:
Spilled Milk Regulations a Myth, E.P.A. Says
To Representative Morgan Griffith, a freshman Republican from Virginia, nothing illustrates the Environmental Protection Agency's overreach more clearly than a new rule applying the same regulations that govern spilled oil to milk spilled on dairy farms. In the midst of a heated debate over the E.P.A.'s authority to regulate heat-trapping emissions like carbon dioxide, the charge makes for great political theater. But according to the agency, it is pure fiction.... Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization run by The St. Petersburg Times, also examined the Republican claims on the spilled milk regulations and rated them false. ...


Why let facts get in the way when you're dedicated to ruining the habitat!

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from SEED Daily, on DesdemonaDespair:
Unregulated pesticide use in Asia destroys ecosystems and threatens resistant 'pest storms'
The unbridled manufacture and use of pesticides in Asia is raising the spectre of "pest storms" devastating the region's rice farms and threatening food security, scientists have warned. Increased production of cheap pesticides in China and India, lax regulation and inadequate farmer education are destroying ecosystems around paddies, allowing pests to thrive and multiply, they said. The problem has emerged over the last decade and -- if left unchecked -- pests could lay waste to vast tracts of Asia's rice farms, according to scientists who took part in a workshop in Singapore last week.... "There are big outbreaks of pests or what they are calling in China 'pest storms' as a result of the over-application of pesticides," Lukacs said.... The problem is compounded by indiscriminate application, which has destroyed the ecosystem surrounding the paddies, including the predators such as spiders and dragonflies that would normally keep pest numbers down. ...


If pesticides kill more than just pests, why don't they call it something else, like "poison"?

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Tue, Mar 1, 2011
from Greenwire:
Regulators Face Deep Cuts as Governors Close Budget Gaps
As they battle record deficits, governors nationwide are digging into state environmental regulatory bodies in budget proposals, many in the name of increasing efficiency and creating states that are "open for business." In some states, environmental groups say budget proposals unfairly target those departments over other state agencies and would set back conservation efforts by years. They also argue that cutting environmental spending will end up costing more jobs than are created by bolstering other state programs.... Industry supporters and budget hawks say environmental agencies have to face the ax like everyone else. ...


I know. Let's let the US have this planet to kill, and the rest of us can go find a new one.

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Tue, Mar 1, 2011
from Center for Public Integrity:
Issa Oversight Committee Staffs Up with Industry Insiders
First as ranking minority member and now as chairman of one of the most powerful committees in Congress, San Diego Republican Darrell Issa has built a team that includes staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations. Issa took control of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last month, and asked companies, nonprofits and industry associations for guidance on federal regulations. The committee, which includes 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, has broad powers to investigate government and industry, and to issue subpoenas. Issa's staff already has released findings sympathetic to industries bent on softening or eliminating certain government regulations. ...


This is what happens when power shifts to the GOP: the environment goes to shit!

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Sun, Feb 27, 2011
from Topeka Capital-Journal:
House seeks to choke EPA regs
Nearly every member of the Kansas House is convinced air-quality regulators at the federal Environmental Protection Agency are spewing toxic rules. Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, took the lead on pushing through a resolution declaring convergence of EPA carbon-limiting edicts, tied to anxiety about greenhouse gases and global warming, should be likened to a runaway railroad engine screaming down the tracks toward certain disaster... 116 members of the House voted for a resolution urging Congress to prohibit EPA by any means necessary -- such as stripping funding from the federal agency -- to block regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. ...


Kansans have a proud history of undermining their own existence.

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Mon, Feb 21, 2011
from Charleston Daily Mail:
W.Va. Marcellus gas legislation ready for review
West Virginia lawmakers hope to focus this week on a single, catchall bill for developing the Marcellus shale natural gas field. The legislation up for review seeks to address industry needs, environmental concerns, and the rights of mineral and surface owners. The proposal would cover everything from applying for needed permits and drawing boundaries for drill sites to storing the large volumes of water needed to extract the gas. Operators face $10,000 permit fees in the bill, along with paying $100 annually for the water storage impoundments. The measure also increases potential civil penalties, from a maximum of $2,500 to one of $10,000. ...


Gee, I wonder whose needs will come first?

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Mon, Feb 14, 2011
from The Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio EPA tries to limit brine dumps in rivers
Fast-growing interest in natural-gas drilling could create a flood of cash for Ohio cities eager to treat wastewater used to coax the gas from deep inside Utica and Marcellus shale. But what's good for the cities might be bad for the state. The process could pollute Ohio streams and rivers, environmental officials say.... With the new drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," drillers shoot millions of gallons of water laced with industrial chemicals down the wells to break the shale and release the gas. About 15 percent of the water shot down the well comes back up, tainted with salt and hazardous metals that can include barium, cadmium and chromium. After the initial surge of "flow back" water, wells continue to produce brine that contains even higher concentrations of salt, metals and minerals. ...


Brine sounds like a goldmine.

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Wed, Feb 9, 2011
from Associated Press:
Global warming heats up Republican attacks on EPA
Vowing to curb the authority and the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, congressional Republicans are attacking the agency to a degree not seen since President Richard Nixon created it 40 years ago. The EPA's effort to tackle the latest and perhaps most challenging environmental problem -- global warming -- has made it a central target of the new Republican leadership's anti-regulatory agenda. Having failed last year to enact new legislation to curb global warming, the administration is left to use existing law -- the Clean Air Act -- to start reducing the pollution causing the planet's temperature to rise. During a hearing on Wednesday, GOP members of a House subcommittee contended that such actions will only raise electricity prices and penalize industries that otherwise could be creating jobs. ...


...ack...

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Tue, Feb 8, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Business Groups' Target: EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces rules that affect the U.S. economy from factories to farms, is the No. 1 target of complaints from business groups collected by House Republican leaders. EPA rules were cited more than those from any other agency in more than 100 letters sent by trade associations, businesses and some conservative groups to House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) in response to his call for businesses to identify regulations they deemed burdensome, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The letters are scheduled for release today. ...


I have this sneaking suspicion Issa is gonna pissa me off!

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Mon, Jan 31, 2011
from London Guardian:
Greenpeace protests at Koch brothers' rally
Prominent figures on both the right and left of the US political spectrum gathered in the luxury enclave of Rancho Mirage in the Californian desert today amid increasingly heated debate about the influence of the secrecy-loving billionaires Charles and David Koch on the political process. About 200 key figures in business, energy, the media and law were expected to assemble at a five-star hotel at the invitation of the Koch brothers for the latest of their twice-yearly discussion groups on how to forward their libertarian causes... As the attendees arrived in their private jets, they were greeted by an airship that circled over the hotel's golf courses and tennis courts bearing the logo: "Koch brothers dirty money." It was sent up by Greenpeace, the environmental campaign group, which has joined forces with several other left-leaning organisations to hold a counter-rally to the Koch meeting. ...


In an air battle, I fear the jets would win.

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Sun, Jan 30, 2011
from London Independent:
Shoppers' green fatigue hits refill revolution
Green fatigue among shoppers has set back Britain's long-awaited refillable bottle revolution, with the latest attempts to persuade supermarket customers to reuse containers ending in failure. Twelve years after one supermarket chain first began testing ways to encourage shoppers to refill detergent bottles rather than buy new ones, the group is no nearer to launching a national scheme across its stores. Julian Walker-Palin, Asda's head of corporate sustainability, called its latest trial - which ran in five stores across the UK and offered customers the chance to save money while cutting their carbon footprint, by reusing specially designed fabric conditioner pouches - "disappointing". ...


The customer is always right even when they're messing up the planet.

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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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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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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Associated Press:
Gingrich calls for replacing EPA
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Tuesday for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, which he wants to replace with a new organization that would work more closely with businesses and be more aggressive in using science and technology... Gingrich, who has made several visits to Iowa recently, said the EPA was founded on sound ideas but has become a traditional Washington bureaucracy. Gingrich had previously mentioned his desire to change the EPA, but Tuesday's explanation was the first time he made a specific proposal for replacing the agency...Gingrich denied his proposal would result in environmental damage, saying he would replace the EPA with what he called the Environmental Solution Agency. ...


An agency formerly known as the Business Aggrandizement and Earth Ruination Agency.

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Tue, Jan 25, 2011
from Frederick News-Post:
American Farm Bureau files suit to stop Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts
The American Farm Bureau Federation has filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman announced the lawsuit Jan. 10 at the AFBF's 92nd annual meeting in Atlanta. "We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay," Stallman said in a recent news release. "This lawsuit is about how we get there. Farm Bureau believes EPA's 'diet' for the Chesapeake is dangerous and unlawful." ...


Bob Stall-man... now THERE'S an aptly-named impediment to environmental restoration.

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Sun, Jan 16, 2011
from Slate, via DesdemonaDespair:
The Chinese Eco-Disaster
He had traveled 100,000 miles crisscrossing China, from Tibet to the deserts of Inner Mongolia, and everywhere he went, he discovered that the Chinese state had embarked on a massive program of ecological destruction. It has turned whole rivers poisonous to the touch, rendered entire areas cancer-ridden, transformed a fertile area almost twice the size of Britain into desert--and perhaps even triggered the worst earthquake in living memory. In his extraordinary book When a Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind--or Destroy It, Watts warns: "The planet's problems were not made in China, but they are sliding past the point of no return there." The über-capitalist Communists now have the highest emissions of global-warming gases in the world (although the average Chinese person generates one-seventh the emissions the average American does). We are all trapped in a greenhouse together: Environmental destruction in China becomes environmental destruction where you live. This story will become your story. ...


We may be looking at a Cultural Devolution.

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Sat, Jan 15, 2011
from Guardian:
Australian floods: Why were we so surprised?
After 10 years of drought, we are having the inevitable flooding rains. The pattern is repeated regularly and yet Australians are still taken by surprise. The meteorologists will tell you that the current deluge is a product of La Nina. At fairly regular intervals, atmospheric pressure on the western side of the Pacific falls; the trade winds blow from the cooler east side towards the trough, pushing warm surface water westwards towards the bordering land masses. As the water-laden air is driven over the land it cools and drops its load. In June last year the bureau of meteorology issued a warning that La Nina was about "to dump buckets" on Australia. In 1989-90 La Nina brought flooding to New South Wales and Victoria, in 1998 to New South Wales and Queensland. Dr Andrew Watkins, manager of the bureau's climate prediction services, told the assembled media: "Computer model forecasts show a significant likelihood of a La Nina in 2010." In Brisbane the benchmark was the flood of 1974; most Queenslanders are unaware that the worst flood in Brisbane's history happened in 1893. Six months ago the meteorologists thought it was worthwhile to warn people to "get ready for a wet, late winter and a soaked spring and summer". So what did the people do? Nothing. They said, "She'll be right, mate". She wasn't.... The rest of the world might well be scratching its head. Though the rise of the Brisbane river had been predicted for many days, owners left their boats on the river, some of them moored to pontoons, which were themselves ripped from their moorings. Literally hundreds of pontoons went careering down the river, crashing into unmanned powerboats that were already cannoning into each other. A long section of the riverside walkway broke away and became a waterborne missile.... After the Fitzroy river flooded Rockhampton in 1991, all the corals and sea grasses round the Keppel Islands died. The area had not yet recovered when the brown tide returned at the beginning of January, and keeps coming. The fresh water now entering the seas off Australia is expected to drift northwards to where the Great Barrier Reef is already struggling with rising sea temperatures. In ecological terms, worse, perhaps very much worse, is on the way. Australia owes it to the rest of the world to get a handle on its regular floods. Or she won't be right, mate. ...


But if we started believing computer models' predictions, we'd have to change our lifestyle!

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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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Tue, Jan 11, 2011
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Climate change reveals disease as national security threat
One of the most worrisome national security threats of climate change is the spread of disease, among both people and animals, U.S. intelligence and health officials say. But more than a decade after such concerns were first raised by U.S. intelligence agencies, significant gaps remain in the health surveillance and response network -- not just in developing nations, but in the United States as well, according to those officials and a review of federal documents and reports. And those gaps, they say, undermine the ability of the U.S. and world health officials to respond to disease outbreaks before they become national security threats. ...


I bet we don't understand the language.

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Tue, Jan 11, 2011
from Reuters:
EPA "pollution diet" starves agriculture: farm group
The head of the largest U.S. farm group called on Congress to stop ruinous EPA "over-regulation" of agriculture and announced on Sunday a lawsuit against EPA rules to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution. Bob Stallman, president of the 6 million-member American Farm Bureau Federation, announced the lawsuit during a speech that opened the group's annual meeting. He said the Environmental Protection Agency's "over-regulation endangers our industry." Farmers have been leery of EPA for years. Opposition has grown in the past couple of years out of concern that regulation of greenhouse gases will drive up farming expenses and that EPA may tell farmers to limit dust from fields. ...


And YOUR pollution endangers OUR environment!

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Wed, Dec 29, 2010
from CBC:
China cuts 'rare earth' quota 11 percent
China said Tuesday it is reducing the amount of rare earths it will export next year by more than 10 per cent -- likely to be an unpopular move worldwide since the minerals are vital to the manufacture of high-tech products. China accounts for 97 per cent of the global production of rare earth minerals, which are essential to devices as varied as cellphones, computer drives and hybrid cars. Countries were alarmed when Beijing blocked shipments of the minerals to Japan earlier this year amid a debate over disputed islands.... The United States last week threatened to go to the World Trade Organization with its concerns over China and rare earths. When asked for comment during a regular press briefing Tuesday, China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu declined to answer. But China has had to address the global concerns numerous times since the spat with Japan. "China is not using rare earth as a bargaining chip," Wen Jiabao, China's top economic official, told a China-European Union business summit in Brussels in October. ...


Hold your head up, Woah!, hold your head high!

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Tue, Dec 28, 2010
from Politico:
President Obama under pressure to deliver on climate
Jan. 2 isn't just your ordinary Sunday. It's the day the Obama administration will officially start regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and critics have issued dire predictions of economic destruction. With all the fiery rhetoric about how damaging the regulations could be, the White House is under pressure to fulfill its pledge to tackle climate change while avoiding the appearance that it's hindering job growth.... Incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) last week accused EPA of advancing a "long regulatory assault" against domestic energy producers. "The EPA has its foot firmly on the throat of our economic recovery," he said. "We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate." ...


Better than a noose firmly on the throat of the planet's neck!

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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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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
EPA Again Delays Tighter Ozone Restrictions
The Obama administration is delaying a decision on whether to tighten limits on ground-level ozone, the third time in less than a year that it has put off the potentially costly environmental rule in the face of congressional and industry pressure. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it won't be prepared to decide until next July whether to tighten a national air-quality standard for ozone. That would be nearly a year after the agency's original self-imposed deadline for settling the matter. Ground-level ozone is a primary ingredient in smog linked to respiratory illnesses. As recently as last Thursday, the agency said it remained committed to finalizing the new standards by the end of the year. The agency has said tightening the standard could save as many as 12,000 lives a year and yield health benefits worth as much as $100 billion annually in 2020. ...


To keep our economy robust, I'd say 12,000 dead a year is an acceptable loss.

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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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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Shrugging Off Criticism, Europe Will Keep Trawling
European nations will keep trawling the deep sea bottom, officials said this week, confounding hopes that they would honor commitments made to the United Nations General Assembly to stop the destructive practice. The Council of Fisheries Ministers, made up of officials from the 27 member nations of the European Union, said on Monday that there would be little change in deep-sea quotas for the next two years, despite strong objections from the conservationist camp.... A British study published in September found that bottom trawling commercial fishing fleets have a more negative impact on the seafloor than all other major human activities combined. ...


Scraping the very bottom of the barrel of earth.

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Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Politico:
GOP plans strategy to stymie EPA
...GOP lawmakers say they want to upend a host of Environmental Protection Agency rules by whatever means possible, including the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to essentially veto recently completed agency regulations. The law lets sponsors skip Senate filibusters, meaning Republicans don't have to negotiate with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a floor vote or secure the tricky 60 votes typically needed to do anything in the Senate...A spate of contentious EPA rules that are soon to be finalized could be prime targets, including the national air quality standard for ozone, toxic emission limits for industrial boilers and a pending decision about whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. ...


The GOP must be suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.

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Mon, Nov 22, 2010
from Journal of Electronic Publishing:
University Presses in the Ecosystem of 2020
In the short term--perhaps the next three to seven years--we'll be able to continue to pretend that everything's normal--just like we've been pretending, in policy and practice, that 95 percent of climate scientists might have it wrong. However, I've come to believe that the marketplace, the economy, the basis on which we have been making so many of our decisions, actually has no clothes, and that the greater likelihood is one of dramatic nakedness. This will have profound effects on university presses--not to mention effects on this essay.... Overall, we've overshot our world's resources, using them up much faster than they can recover. And in the boom times of the last few decades, we've put systems in place--profit motives, giant centralization, organizational inertia--that virtually guarantee that we'll continue to overshoot, and virtually guarantee, I fear, that we'll be facing a collapse of the economy that we've mistaken for an ecosystem.... Further, this essay is not the natural place to address the interrelationships of warming oceans, dying coral, monocrops and corporate farming, antibiotic resistance, hermaphroditic fish, amphibian collapse, climate chaos, dead zones, and the rest. This is, after all, an essay about university presses. But for the purposes of this essay, let's imagine I'm possibly right, that a thousand days of daily investigation may lead to useful conclusions, and let's then explore the possible impacts of an ecosystem and economic collapse on university presses, over the next decade or two. ...


What are ya thinking? Now you'll never get tenure.

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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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Thu, Nov 11, 2010
from London Guardian:
Arctic oil spill clean-up plans are 'thoroughly inadequate', industry warned
The next big offshore oil disaster could take place in the remote Arctic seas where hurricane-force winds, 30ft seas, sub-zero temperatures and winter darkness would overwhelm any clean-up attempts, a new report warns. With the ban on offshore drilling lifted in the Gulf of Mexico, big oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are pressing hard for the Obama administration to grant final approval to Arctic drilling. Shell has invested more than $2bn to drill off Alaska's north coast, and is campaigning to begin next summer. But the report, Oil spill prevention and response in the US Arctic Ocean, by the Pew Environment Group, warns that oil companies are not ready to deal with a spill, despite the lessons of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. ...


Why don't we just wait to worry about this?

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Fri, Nov 5, 2010
from Nature.com:
Ocean pH dropping faster than expected
Thanks to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, some Arctic waters are already experiencing pH dips that could be harmful to sea life. What's more, this acidification seems to be happening more rapidly than models have predicted.... "Models are probably underestimating at least by a few years the impact of ocean acidification in the Arctic," says Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "We don't know what the organisms' responses are yet, but the conditions are already there to potentially be disruptive to the ecosystems."... One important source of carbonate ions is aragonite, a particularly soluble form of calcium carbonate. Seawater is usually saturated with aragonite. However a recent study in Biogeosciences estimated that by 2016, according to the IPCC's mid-range emissions projections, aragonite will fall below this level in some Arctic waters for at least one month a year. By the end of the century, it predicts that the entire Arctic Ocean could be under-saturated with respect to aragonite. "But we don't have to wait until 2016," says Mathis. "We're already seeing places in the Arctic where these under-saturations are happening now." High latitude waters in the Arctic and Antarctic are particularly sensitive to pH changes, as cold waters absorb more gas than warm waters.... The news gets worse. Several speakers on the panel, including Richard Feely, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has been leading large-scale ocean surveys of acidification, warned that the acidity of seawater could double by the end of the century. ...


Whoops! My bad! Erroneous moi! Ich bin ausgeguilty! Can we move on now?

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Thu, Nov 4, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
A ringside seat at the end of the world: The Titanic deck chairs are burning
Let's mix up some metaphors to try and fathom what happened during the elections. At the very moment that we should be peeling back the onion of denial on climate change, and moving WITHOUT PAUSE to an energy efficient economy -- and human behavioral change toward conservation -- we just fell further down the rabbit hole. Republicans, by and large a motley group of climate change deniers, have now taken over the House of Representatives. The Democrats still have a majority in the Senate, but they are by and large a motley group of climate change cowards, as many of them must bend over for coal and oil industry interests.... And so with this election we are fiddling around with the chairs on the Titanic as Rome is burning. ...


Not to mention being up a creek, paddlessly!

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Mon, Nov 1, 2010
from The Vancouver Tyee:
US Tea Party's Deep Ties to Oil Sands Giant
The Tea Party movement, poised to help shift the U.S. legislature to the right and stymie President Obama's green agenda, has financial and organizational ties to Koch Industries, one of America's biggest processors of Alberta oil sands crude. Congressional midterm elections on Tuesday could create a U.S. government less amenable to climate change action, partly a result of Tea Party influence. That would likely bode well for Alberta's carbon-intensive oil sands industry, which has long worried that national greenhouse gas standards south of the border will reduce profits and restrict future growth.... Koch Industries provides critical support for the Tea Party movement through Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an advocacy group it established in 2003 and now helps fund. AFP sponsored and helped organize nearly 1,000 Tea Party rallies in April. ...


Sounds like a bunch of dicks to me.

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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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Thu, Oct 21, 2010
from Mongabay:
World needs to protect 32 million square kilometers of ocean in two years
According to goals set in 2002 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, nations must spend the next two years catching-up on creating ocean reserve. Currently, about 1.17 percent of the ocean is under some form of protection, but the 2002 goal was 10 percent by 2012. That means protecting over 32.5 million square kilometers of the ocean, twice the size of Russia. According to a recent report, Global Ocean Protection by the Nature Conservancy, not only is the world failing on its goals to protect a significant portion of the ocean, it's also failing to protect 10 percent of various marine ecosystems. "Overall the shortfall in our achievements is quite shocking," says Mark Spalding with The Nature Conservancy and an editor of the report. "We attained only one tenth of our target. Even that statistic is buoyed up by a handful of giant marine parks, leaving a greater shortfall in many areas where the pressures are most intense. We need to realize that marine protection isn't just about nature, it's about ourselves. If we can't manage and sustain our seas in their entirety, humans will be high on the list of losers." ...


These aren't the management practices taught in B-school.

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Wed, Oct 13, 2010
from Washington Post:
U.S. lifts ban on deep-water drilling
Under pressure from Gulf Coast lawmakers warning of job losses, the Obama administration Tuesday lifted the moratorium on deep-water drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico weeks ahead of schedule, pledging closer oversight in the wake of the worst spill in U.S. history. "We are open for business," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters in a phone call Tuesday afternoon, adding, "We have made, and continue to make, significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deep-water drilling." ...


And so another moment of reckoning has passed.

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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 New York Times:
Economy Sandbags Plans for Nuclear Reactors
Just a few years ago, the economic prognosis for new nuclear reactors looked bright. The prospect of growing electricity demand, probable caps on carbon-dioxide emissions and government loan guarantees prompted companies to tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they wanted to build 28 new reactors. The economic slump, which has driven down demand and the price of competing energy sources, and the failure of Congress to pass climate legislation has changed all that, at least for now... The government is hardly the only one to question the economics of nuclear power right now. The would-be builders of seven reactors around the country have deferred their projects in the last few months. ...


Then where will the Homer Simpsons of the world find jobs?

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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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Thu, Oct 7, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
A ringside seat at the end of the world: Call 'em economentalists
The presiding predicament of our time is that many of us know we need to confront climate change, but there is concern that doing so will "hurt the economy."... The semantic problem, as I see it, is that in articles you read, the position is always "environmentalists say" versus what "politicians or business people or common folks say." So it's always environmentalists under one giant umbrella; and the naysayers nay-saying under their own niche auspices. I say let's even the score. Let's give the people who believe the economy is more important than the environment a name, a label. Let's call them economentalists. ...


Healing the planet through neologisms!

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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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Thu, Sep 9, 2010
from Climatewire:
Obama's Climate Image Blurs as He Nears Last Half of Presidential Term
Barack Obama was considered a climate change savior 20 months ago, rushing into the White House with promises to price carbon, accelerate renewable energy technology and participate in a worldwide effort against global warming. He was a champion to environmentalists and sometimes described the atmospheric impacts of unregulated emissions as a threat to his own family. Global warming, he said in 2007, is not "a someday problem; it is now." But the legislative remedy would have to wait. Now, nearly two years into Obama's term, the president's climate image has changed. He is no longer a champion to some, and others are astonished at his administration's unenthusiastic support of a climate bill in the Senate this year. It failed without a vote. ...


Seems the president is more interested in maintaining the status quobama.

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Thu, Sep 9, 2010
from EuropeanVoice:
'No extra money' for biodiversity protection
European politicians warn that there will be no additional funding for developing nations. The European Union looks set to disappoint developing countries by turning down requests for more money to protect biodiversity outside the EU.... "They are asking for more financing. That's normal. But we have a problem, we don't have it," said Joke Schauvliege, the Flemish minister for environment, who is leading discussions with her counterparts from other member states. "We are now in a financial situation where we are not in a position to put more money on the table," she told journalists at a biodiversity conference in Ghent, Belgium.... But the Commission's environment department spies a window of opportunity, with reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy also getting under way - two policies long under fire for failing to prevent habitat loss, pesticide pollution and overfishing. "Biodiversity is not just about protecting species. It is also about nature's ability to produce the goods and services that we need," Potocnik told delegates. "We have to go beyond lip service and truly integrate biodiversity into our policies." ...


Worldwide upport for coal production: 334.6 billion. Tax breaks for millionaires: 481.4 billion. A functioning ecosystem: priceless.*

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from New Orleans Times-Picayune:
5 key human errors, colossal mechanical failure led to fatal Gulf oil rig blowout
A string of mistakes, first by people, then by a supposedly fail-safe machine, sealed the fates of 11 rig workers and led to the fouling of the Gulf of Mexico and hundreds of miles of its coastline. More than 100 hours of testimony before a federal investigative panel, two dozen congressional hearings and several internal company reports have brought the genesis of the spill into sharp focus. The record shows there was no single fatal mistake or cut corner. Rather, five key human errors and a colossal mechanical failure combined to form a recipe for unprecedented disaster. The rig's malfunctioning blowout preventer ultimately failed, but it was needed only because of human errors. Those errors originated with a team of BP engineers in Houston who knew they had an especially tough well, one rig workers called "the well from hell." ...


The "well from hell" turned out to be the "rig you don't dig."

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from Seed Magazine:
All consuming
...are the world's environmental ills really a result of the burgeoning number of humans on the planet -- growing by more than 150 people a minute and predicted by the United Nations to reach at least 9 billion people by 2050? Or are they more due to the fact that, while human population doubled in the past 50 years, we increased our use of resources fourfold?...Ultimately, the problem isn't the number of people, necessarily. It's what those people do. The average American (just one of 309 million) uses up some 194 pounds of stuff -- food, water, plastics, metals and other things -- per day, day in and day out. We consume a full 25 percent of the world's energy despite representing just 5 percent of global population. And that consumerism is spreading, whether it be the adoption of cars as a lifestyle choice in China or gadget lust in the U.S. "Consumerism is now spreading around the world," says Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute. "Is this going to keep spreading? Or are countries going to start recognizing that this is not a good path?" ...


I'll give these questions my undivided attention when I return from copulating at the mall.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from American Institute for Biological Sciences, via EurekAlert:
Researchers analyze 'the environmentalist's paradox'
Global degradation of ecosystems is widely believed to threaten human welfare, yet accepted measures of well-being show that it is on average improving globally, both in poor countries and rich ones. A team of authors writing in the September issue of BioScience dissects explanations for this "environmentalist's paradox."... Three likely reasons they identify--past increases in food production, technological innovations that decouple people from ecosystems, and time lags before well-being is affected--provide few grounds for complacency, however.... The researchers resolve the paradox partly by pointing to evidence that food production (which has increased globally over past decades) is more important for human well-being than are other ecosystem services. They also establish support for two other explanations: that technology and innovation have decoupled human well-being from ecosystem degradation, and that there is a time lag after ecosystem service degradation before human well-being will be affected. ...


None are so paradoxed as those who will not see.

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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 30, 2010
from Center for Investigative Reporting:
Under fire from industry, scientific panel is 'gutted'
Five out of nine members of a scientific panel that advises the state on toxic chemicals have been fired in recent weeks, following disputes with the chemical industry and a conservative group that targets environmental laws... Among the dismissed members is panel chairman John Froines, who also heads the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's School of Public Health. Froines has served on the panel since it was founded and has been its chairman since 1998. Froines says he learned of his dismissal July 22 in a two-sentence letter from Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles. Panel members, including Froines, have come under fire over the years when their designation of certain substances as toxic came at a cost to industry. ...


Given the toxic relationship between business and science, I'd suggest purchasing one of these.

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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from University of Copenhagen, via EurekAlert:
Dramatic climate change is unpredictable
By analysing the ice cores that are drilled through the more than three kilometer thick ice sheet in Greenland, scientists can obtain information about the temperature and climate going back around 140,000 years. The most pronounced climate shifts besides the end of the ice age is a series of climate changes during the ice age where the temperature suddenly rose 10-15 degrees in less than 10 years. The climate change lasted perhaps 1000 years, then - bang - the temperature fell drastically and the climate changed again.... "We have made a theoretical modelling of two different scenarios that might trigger climate change. We wanted to investigate if it could be determined whether there was an external factor which caused the climate change or whether the shift was due to an accumulation of small, chaotic fluctuations", explains Peter Ditlevsen, a climate researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute. He explains that in one scenario the climate is like a seesaw that has tipped to one side. If sufficient weight is placed on the other side the seesaw will tip - the climate will change from one state to another. This could be, for example, an increase in the atmospheric content of CO2 triggering a shift in the climate.... [I]t was the chaos-dynamical fluctuations that were the triggering cause of the dramatic climate changes during the ice age. This means that they are very difficult to predict. ...


If I can't predict it, how can I control it?

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Sun, Aug 29, 2010
from SolveClimate:
Chinese Climate Negotiator Provides Candid Take on What Happened in Copenhagen
First, by announcing programs and targets for the coming decade prior to the talks, the government continued to show the world that China is a responsible nation. Those plans were unconditional, as we do not believe that the future of mankind should be used as a bargaining chip - a position that contrasts sharply with the stance of developed nations.... They did not consider that their proposed 30 percent cuts have a long list of conditions attached, yet when we aim to cut carbon-intensity by 40 percent they say we are doing nothing.... The talks focused on two issues. One was long term goals. As disagreement over atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations and 2050 emissions targets was too great, these were not covered in the agreement, which specified only a goal of limiting any temperature increase to two degrees Celsius [above pre-industrial levels].... China is bound to be dependent on coal for energy - we cannot afford oil as an alternative when it costs more than US$100 dollars (680 yuan) a barrel.... Many problems can only be solved through development. We cannot blindly accept that protecting the climate is humanity's common interest - national interests should come first.... The individual can save power, but there are 600 million people in India without electricity - the country has to develop and meet that need. And if that increases emissions, I say, "So what?" The people have a right to a better life.... Some EU nations have done well on emissions reductions, but the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Spain and Italy have not just failed to make cuts – they have significantly increased their emissions. And they do not seem to feel they have done anything wrong. ...


This is the way the world ends / not with a bang, but an economic justification.

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Sun, Aug 22, 2010
from Guardian:
We've gone into the ecological red
At the weekend, Saturday 21 August to be precise, the world as a whole went into "ecological debt". That means in effect that from now until the end of the year, humanity will be consuming more natural resources and producing more waste than the forests, fields and fisheries of the world can replace and absorb. By doing so, the life-support systems that we all depend on are worn ever thinner. Farms become less productive, fish populations crash and climate regulating forests decline. All become less resilient in the face of extreme weather events. The date is arrived at by comparing our annual environmental resource budget with our ecological footprint - the rate at which we spend it. The more we overshoot the available budget, the earlier in the year we start to go into the ecological red. Collectively we started to live beyond our means in the 1980s. Since then the date has crept earlier and earlier in the year. Improved measurement and data bring the latest date forward by a whole month in comparison with last year's date. It now takes about 18 months for the planet to generate what we consume in just 12. ...


I'm not worried -- I invested in ecology default swaps.

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Fri, Aug 20, 2010
from The Independent:
Now Atlantic is found to have huge 'garbage patch'
A huge expanse of floating plastic debris has been documented for the first time in the North Atlantic Ocean. The size of the affected area rivals the "great Pacific garbage patch" in the world's other great ocean basin, which generated an outcry over the effects of plastic waste on marine wildlife. The new plastic waste, which was discovered in an area of the Atlantic to the east of Bermuda, consists mostly of fragments no bigger than a few millimetres wide. But their concentrations and the area of the sea that is covered have caused consternation among marine biologists studying the phenomenon.... Kara Lavender Law from the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said the size of the Atlantic "garbage patch" was roughly equal to the one in the Pacific, where circulating currents of the North Pacific Gyre have trapped it over a wide area to the north of the equator. "The Pacific has received more attention in terms of plastic accumulation but we know less about the Pacific so it's very difficult to compare the Atlantic patch in terms of size. We had a cruise this summer to try to find the eastern extent and in fact we failed to find it," Dr Lavender Law said.... Small fragments of plastic could pose an even greater menace to marine life than the larger fragments that become entangled with animals such as albatrosses and turtles, she said. "We know that smaller pieces of plastic are eaten and it's unclear what happens to that plastic then. But clearly biological organisms were not designed to eat plastic," she said. ...


Perhaps there simply isn't an eastern limit.

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Thu, Aug 19, 2010
from AolNews:
EPA May Give 1st Approval of Nanosilver for Fabrics
A Swiss chemical producer may soon be the first company to receive approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use nanosilver to make clothing smell better, stay cleaner and destroy germs. However, health scientists say the nanoparticles will wash out with the rinse water and could cause unknown environmental and health problems downstream. The EPA said that it may issue "conditional approval" to HeiQ Materials AG, a producer of nanosized additives, for the use of a nanosilver pesticide as a new active ingredient in fabrics. ...


Me, I like to look good while I'm dying from environmental contamination.

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Fri, Aug 13, 2010
from Christian Science Monitor:
China mudslides were predicted 13 years ago
Monster monsoon rains may have loosened the mud and rock that buried and killed more than 1,000 people in the northwestern Chinese Province of Gansu over the weekend, but the mudslide in Zhouqu was more than a natural disaster. Official records show that government-run lumber companies cut 313,000 acres of forest from the slopes of Zhouqu county between 1952 and 1990, denuding the geologically vulnerable mountainsides and subjecting them to soil erosion. Thirteen years ago two Chinese scientists published a paper warning that following "the destruction of the eco-system" in the district, "a rainstorm will carry debris down the gully, destroying farmland, houses, roads, bridges, water facilities, and power systems and causing death and injury." ...


What were those scientists' names -- Nostra and Damus?

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Wed, Aug 11, 2010
from New York Times:
By Messing With Texas Air Pollution Permits, EPA Unleashes Power Struggle
After simmering behind closed doors for more than 15 years, a disagreement between U.S. EPA and Texas environmental officials over air pollution permits has boiled over in a big way...During the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations, EPA routinely missed its 18-month deadline for making decisions on Texas' permitting programs. Meanwhile, experts say, TCEQ kept issuing permits without federal approval and Texas businesses kept applying for them, assuming that no complaints from EPA meant that everything was fine. To this day, there are about 30 Texas permitting programs in legal limbo, many of them more than a decade old. With EPA required by a court settlement to make yes-or-no decisions on all of them by 2012, experts say the current dispute could be just the beginning of a protracted legal battle to determine where state authority ends and federal oversight begins. ...


Keep your guvment mitts off our shitty air.

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Sat, Aug 7, 2010
from Associated Press:
Climate talks appear to slip backward
Global climate talks appeared to have slipped backward after five days of negotiations in Bonn, with rich and poor countries exchanging charges of reneging on agreements they made last year to contain greenhouse gases. Delegates complained that reversals in the talks put negotiations back by a year, even before minimal gains were scored at the Copenhagen summit last December. "It's a little bit like a broken record," said European Union negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger. "It's like a flashback," agreed Raman Mehta, of the Action Aid environment group. "The discourse is the same level" as before Copenhagen. ...


We're a planet full of slackers.

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010
from Bloomberg:
China's Environment Accidents Double as Growth Takes Toll
China, the world's largest polluter, said the number of environmental accidents rose 98 percent in the first six months of the year, as demand for energy and minerals lead to poisoned rivers and oil spills. "Fast economic development is leading to increasing conflicts with the capacity of the environment to absorb" demands, the environmental protection ministry said in a faxed statement in response to Bloomberg questions. ...


But... but... growth is good isn't it?

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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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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
A Water Fight Over Luxury Showers
Regulators are going after some of the luxury shower fixtures that took off in the housing boom. Many have multiple nozzles, cost thousands of dollars and emit as many as 12 gallons of water a minute. In May, the DOE stunned the plumbing-products industry when it said it would adopt a strict definition of the term "showerhead" in enforcing standards that have been on the books -- but largely unenforced -- for nearly 20 years. Industry response has been fast and furious. "It was not the legislative intent of Congress to authorize DOE to regulate the bathing habits of Americans," wrote Frederick Desborough, vice president of California Faucets, a Huntington Beach, Calif., manufacturer, in a letter to the DOE in June. The showdown is a challenge to President Barack Obama and his energy secretary, Steven Chu, as they try to cajole -- or compel -- Americans to use water and energy more efficiently. ...


It is my God-given, American right to waste as much water as I please!

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Tue, Jul 20, 2010
from Yale environment 360:
Does Egypt Own The Nile? A Battle Over Precious Water
A simmering dispute over who owns the waters of the River Nile is heating up. From its headwaters in Ethiopia and the central African highlands to the downstream regional superpower Egypt, the Nile flows through 10 nations. But by a quirk of British colonial history, only Egypt and its neighbor Sudan have any rights to its water. That is something the upstream African nations say they can no longer accept. Yet as the nations of the Nile bicker over its future, nobody is speaking up for the river itself -- for the ecosystems that depend on it, or for the physical processes on which its future as a life-giving resource in the world's largest desert depends. The danger is that efforts to stave off water wars may lead to engineers trying to squeeze yet more water from the river -- and doing the Nile still more harm. What is at risk here is not only the Nile, but also the largest wetland in Africa and one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world -- the wildlife-rich Sudd. ...


That ownership thing humans do... just hasn't worked out so well.

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Sun, Jul 18, 2010
from New York Times:
Rethinking the Measure of Growth
...Gross domestic product has come in for some particularly hard knocks since the global financial crisis, notably after a report last year whose co-author was Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, that said reliance on gross domestic product had blinded governments to the increasing risks in the world economy since 2004. Overlooking that risk has possibly cost future economic growth, the report said, and has contributed to a looming environmental crisis. "Market prices are distorted by the fact that there is no charge imposed on carbon emissions," the report said. "Clearly, measures of economic performance that reflected these environmental costs might look markedly different from standard measures." ...


The gross domestic product is aptly named.

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Mon, Jul 12, 2010
from Washington Post:
Historic oil spill fails to produce gains for U.S. environmentalists
For environmentalists, the BP oil spill may be disproving the maxim that great tragedies produce great change. Traditionally, American environmentalism wins its biggest victories after some important piece of American environment is poisoned, exterminated or set on fire. An oil spill and a burning river in 1969 led to new anti-pollution laws in the 1970s. The Exxon Valdez disaster helped create an Earth Day revival in 1990 and sparked a landmark clean-air law. But this year, the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- and, before that, the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years -- haven't put the same kind of drive into the debate over climate change and fossil-fuel energy. The Senate is still gridlocked. Opinion polls haven't budged much. Gasoline demand is going up, not down. ...


Too bad we can't turn selfishness and apathy into a renewal energy source.

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Sun, Jul 11, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier
When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to "guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch." Many government scientists hailed the president's pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out. ...


Perhaps it's the Office of the Presidency that is the problem.

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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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Sat, Jul 10, 2010
from Reuters:
U.S. farmers can't meet booming corn demands
Exporters, livestock feeders and ethanol makers are going through the U.S. corn stockpile faster than farmers can grow the crops, the government said on Friday. Despite record crops in two of the past three years and another record within reach this year, the Agriculture Department estimated the corn carryover will shrink to the lowest level since 2006/07. ...


How could the practice of monoculture not be working out?

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Fri, Jul 9, 2010
from Mongabay, via DesdemonaDespair:
Road through the Serengeti will eventually 'kill the migration'
Tourists, conservationists, individuals, and tour companies have launched an international outcry against the Tanzanian authorities in response to the announcement of the planned construction of the trans-Serengeti Highway highway. There is even a Facebook group and an online petition with 5,038 signatures. But the government has responded by saying that the plans are still on course. In a recent interview, the Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Shamsa Mwangunga, made it clear that the decision is simply to fulfill a campaign promise made by President Jakaya Kikwete in 2005, that the fourth phase administration would complete construction of the $480 million Arusha-Musoma road. Conservationists argue that this northern part of the Serengeti is untouched and should remain so. A massive road through the area will physically block the migration, introduce invasive species, and lead to greater poaching - ultimately killing the migration altogether. ...


But think of the tolls you could charge those wildebeest!

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Wed, Jul 7, 2010
from Associated Press:
AP IMPACT: Gulf awash in 27,000 abandoned wells
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one -- not industry, not government -- is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows. The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing. The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells -- those characterized in federal government records as "temporarily abandoned." ...


We have perforated the earth with our neglect.

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Tue, Jul 6, 2010
from New Scientist:
IPCC report is 'reliable but flawed': Netherlands
A tendency to highlight worst-case scenarios undermined parts of the last assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a new study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). The inquiry was ordered by embarrassed Dutch ministers after it emerged that a mistake in the 2007 IPCC report originated with its own scientists. The report stated that 55 per cent of the Netherlands is below sea level, when in fact the true figure is half that. Overall, the Dutch investigators said, the IPCC report's conclusions were "well-founded". But it found several judgements that were "misleading" and appeared to have no firm research basis. For instance, the IPCC concluded that by 2050, "freshwater availability in central, south, east and south-east Asia, particularly in large river basins, is projected to decrease". This matters because some 3 billion people live in this part of the world and most rely on river flows to irrigate their crops. However, the Dutch investigators found confusion over data. Some studies cited measured absolute river flows, while others assessed per-capita flows. This made it "hard to establish the line of reasoning" and meant the conclusion could not be relied on, they said. In another case, the IPCC stated that "on balance health risks are very likely to increase" as a result of climate change. The PBL researchers said the report lacked a "quantitative underpinning for the statement". ...


Imagine! Scientists can be imperfect in predicting world-scale complexity!

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Mon, Jul 5, 2010
from Greenwich Time:
Local lobstermen say no to moratorium
Once a thriving industry that provided seafaring men a comfortable existence, Long Island Sound's lobstermen have been virtually wiped out over the past 10 years. A new recommendation by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to prohibit lobstering in the Sound for the next five years will ensure their demise, they say. The commission is calling for a five-year moratorium on lobstering from Cape Cod, Mass., to Cape May, N.J., under a plan it hopes would allow the lobster population to recover. ...


As go lobsters... so go the lobstermen.

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from Times of Malta:
Ships' ballast water adds a new alien species to the Mediterranean every nine days
Mediterranean states have started discussing measures to control the discharging of ship's ballast after scientists found that one alien species enters the Med every nine days, mostly with the water which the ships discharge after arriving from other regions. "The Mediterranean Sea is a world's major shipping area with more than 300,000 port calls per annum and more than 10,000 ships transiting this busy highway every year. Ballast water discharges by ships can have a negative impact on the marine environment," said Fréderic Hébert, Director of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC). "Large tankers and bulk cargo carriers, commonly operating in the Mediterranean, use a large amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded". There are hundreds of organisms carried in ballast water, including plants, animals, viruses and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to the aquatic ecosystem - generally referred to as alien or invasive species. ...


It's a small world, after all.

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Sat, Jun 26, 2010
from Texas Tribune:
How Bad Is the Ogallala Aquifer's Decline in Texas?
Stretching across eight states, the amount of water is so vast that, according to one writer, it could fill Lake Erie nine times over. Within Texas, the Ogallala accounts for about 40 percent of all water use. But the aquifer's levels are declining sharply here. In a dry growing season last year, the High Plains Water District, which includes all or part of 15 Panhandle counties, recorded an average drop of 1.5 feet, the most since 1997. The rains have returned, but the 2007 state water plan projects that the Ogallala's volume will fall a staggering 52 percent between 2010 and 2060, as corn and cotton growers continue to draw from its depths.... In general, he says, Texans are probably pumping the Ogallala at about six times the rate of recharge.... Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day has the potential to gut the state's ability to regulate groundwater through local districts, by making them more vulnerable to court challenge. If it goes the other way -- and the court decides landowners do not have an ownership right in groundwater -- then Johnson says that districts would have few limits on their ability to restrict groundwater use. ...


That's the Texas Six-sip.

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Sat, Jun 26, 2010
from Guardian:
China: the next superconsumer
Liu is a member of the fastest-growing consumer class: single women - or xiaobailing (white-collar princesses). They have high levels of disposable income and a craving for designer labels. For marketing moguls, they are the future face of consumer power. State planners forecast that half the population will be middle class by 2020. Until recently, China was living within the planet's means. If everyone in the world consumed what the average Mr or Mrs Wang did in 2007, we'd just about stay within the sustainable resources of our planet. Humanity would have a balanced ecological budget. But, understandably, Mr and Mrs Wang wanted to keep up with Mr and Mrs Jones on the other side of the Pacific. That was human nature. It was also bad news for the environment, because if we all ate, shopped and travelled like those average Americans, we'd need 4.5 Earths.... At her first sale, she blew a third of her salary on Fendi sunglasses. "It is like a fever," she says. "The price is so low, you cannot refuse." ...


Earthdebt is just a mortgage -- and since the value of our Earth will only rise, let's keep borrowing!

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Mon, Jun 21, 2010
from Guardian:
Overconsumption is costing us the earth and human happiness
... Leonard worries we have not grasped the fundamental problem with our materials economy. "It is a linear system and we live on a finite planet. You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. Too often the environment is seen as one small piece of the economy. But it's not just one little thing, it's what every single thing in our life depends upon."... Consumption can be good, she says. "I don't want to be callous to the people who really do need more stuff". But consumerism is always bad, adding little to our wellbeing as well as being disastrous for the planet. "[It's] a particular strand of overconsumption, where we purchase things, not to fulfil our basic needs, but to fill some voids about our lives and make social statements about ourselves," she explains. "It turns out our stuff isn't making us any happier," she argues. Our obsessive relationship with material things is actually jeopardising our relationships, "Which are proven over and over to be the biggest determining factor in our happiness [once our basic needs are met]." ...


If I can't define myself via the crap I own, how do I know I exist?

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Wed, Jun 16, 2010
from Associated Press:
Alaska state official objects to polar bear plan
The federal plan for designating more than 187,000 square miles as polar bear critical habitat is too large and will lead to huge, unnecessary costs for Alaska's petroleum industry, opponents of the proposal told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday night. Critical habitat by definition is the area that contains features essential to the conservation of the species, said Doug Vincent-Lang, endangered species coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game... The Endangered Species Act requires protections to be balanced against their costs, Vincent-Lang said. The additional protection for bears was minimal but the costs for people were huge, he said. ...


Easy for YOU to say, human.

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Tue, Jun 15, 2010
from Politico:
Henry Waxman puts Big Oil on trial
Henry Waxman's war on Big Oil has begun. The California Democrat, along with Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), will force top oil executives to defend or condemn industry practices and profits, according to series of pre-hearing questions obtained by POLITICO, foreshadowing an intense, made-for-TV hearing Tuesday that could create an iconic Washington moment for the petroleum industry... BP may be first in the line of fire, but experts said the whole industry will be on trial Tuesday. Executives from BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron are scheduled to testify. ...


The Waxman Cometh!

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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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Sun, Jun 13, 2010
from New York Times:
Take Them to the Cleaners, Again and Again
MAN or woman, every one of us has experienced the frustration that drove Rick Siegel to become an inventor. He would be in his clothes closet, running late, wrestling with the plastic bags that encased -- and the twist ties that entangled -- his dry cleaning. Surely, he thought, those twist ties would drive him mad.... Ms. Nigrosh's father ran a cardboard recycling factory when she was growing up, so a trip to the closet made her stomach clench: Where did all this plastic go? Suddenly Mr. Siegel, who was once a Hollywood talent manager, and his wife, a marketing copywriter in the music industry, had an idea: a reusable bag to transport your clothes to and from the dry cleaner. After an initial investment of about $200,000, the Green Garmento was born. ...


And the more we can encourage cleaning clothes with toxic chemicals, the better for the planet.

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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from Epoch times:
Monsanto's Gift Not Needed in Haiti
Monsanto Company sent more than 60 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to help with relief efforts in Haiti in May, but the gift was not entirely welcomed. According to numerous media reports, 10,000 members of The Movement of Papay (MMP) lead by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste took to the streets to protest the planting of Monsanto's crops, which were accepted by the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. Monsanto -- an American giant of agricultural produce -- has a reputation of producing large amounts of hazardous pollution and dispersing branded herbicides, like Roundup, around the world to make resource-poor countries dependent on Monsanto's supply of the chemical. Hybrid seeds donated by Monsanto will allow farmers to grow crops for only one year as the plants do not reproduce, thus making the farmers dependent on buying the same crops the following year. ...


Like The Pusher says, first one's free.

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Sun, Jun 6, 2010
from BusinessGreen:
Only business can save us now
It has been a sobering week for anyone with an interest in the low-carbon economy. While the good news continues to pour in for individual firms and countries, the prognosis for the international climate talks that reconvened in Bonn on Monday looks as bleak as at any point in the past two years. Anyone hoping that a line had been drawn under the acrimonious row that marred the final few days of the Copenhagen summit would have been left disillusioned within minutes of the latest round of talks getting under way.... Barring miracles, the obstacles faced by the US climate bill and the UN climate negotiations look increasingly insurmountable. But climate change and its associated risks will not wait for us to complete our political machinations, which leaves us facing one crucial question: where will the miracles come from? The answer is the business community. ...


How great that we have had the last century of practice letting the desire for profit change the world.

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Fri, Jun 4, 2010
from Greenwire:
Federal Funding Cuts Leave Oceanographers, Spill Responders in Dark
...For more than a decade, scientists have called for federal funding of a network of radar, buoys and other sensors that would provide the equivalent of a weather forecast system for the Gulf of Mexico. Yet despite what seemed like promising support in Washington, funding for these programs has dropped by half or more in recent years, leaving oceanographers to use satellite snapshots and imperfect models to guess where the oil will travel, dragged by unwatched currents. ...


But think of the money we temporarily saved!

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Thu, Jun 3, 2010
from Christian Science Monitor:
Gulf oil spill as a lesson on humans in nature
Some eco-disasters are so huge they force humans to rethink how to better coexist with nature on a delicate planet. The mass killing of birds by the pesticide DDT, for instance, helped trigger the 1960s environmental movement. Now the Gulf oil spill may be one of those moments for mass reflection. Millions of barrels of crude oil have entered the aquatic food chain since BP's rig collapsed April 20. The spill itself is bad enough, but every day people from Florida to Texas are being forced to make difficult choices that pit the interests of humans against those of wildlife. ...


All I see in that reflection is how big my butt looks in this hat.

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Wed, Jun 2, 2010
from AP, via CBC:
U.S. says greenhouses gases to rise by 2020
In its first major climate report to the United Nations in four years, the United States reported Tuesday that its projected climate-warming greenhouse gases will grow by four per cent through 2020. The first such report submitted under the Obama administration includes a 1.5 per cent rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the main gas from fossil fuel burning blamed for global warming. But it's the culpability of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs -- promoted worldwide to replace chemicals that harm the globe's ozone layer -- that gets a starring role. Though HFCs account for only about two per cent of the globe's climate-warming gases, their share is expected to grow by up to a third of all greenhouse gases by mid-century.... "Unless they are eliminated, HFCs and fluorinated gases will sabotage efforts to combat global warming," said Samuel LaBudde, atmospheric campaign director for the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington. "We could and should use the Montreal Protocol to phase them out, just as it's doing for chemicals that threaten to destroy the ozone layer," he said. ...


That's making my Nunavut property look better all the time!

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Mon, May 31, 2010
from London Guardian:
Presence of world leaders 'paralysed' climate summit, UN letter claims
A leaked letter from the United Nations' climate chief suggests the Copenhagen climate summit failed because the presence of 130 world leaders paralysed decision-making and the Danish presidency backed the US and other western nations over the interests of the poor. The revelations - made as the UN climate talks resume in Bonn tomorrow - come in Yvo de Boer's candid letter, written to colleagues days after the summit broke up in acrimony in December. More than 130 world leaders had been persuaded by Britain and other countries to go to Denmark, where they were expected to put the finishing touches to a historic global agreement to limit carbon emissions, protect forests and put in place a mechanism to transfer billions of dollars from rich to poor countries each year. Instead, they arrived at a summit seething with mistrust. ...


Egopocalypse

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Mon, May 31, 2010
from Guardian:
Copenhagen climate failure blamed on 'Danish text'
The latest revelations come from the man at the very heart of the debacle, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. Normally the model of a discreet and guarded international bureaucrat, his confidential letter of explanation to his colleagues, written only days after the meeting ended, displays a mix of bemusement, clarity and exasperation. "How could several years of negotiation and high level diplomacy be allowed to end up this way?", he asks. The letter appears in a new Danish book by journalist Per Meilstrup.... The key event, he suggests, was Rasmussen's draft text. This, known widely as the "Danish text", was due to be wheeled out just when the talks reached a deadlock, as they were bound to do. The trouble was, implies De Boer, the text was clearly advantageous to the US and the west, would have steamrollered the developing countries, and was presented to a few countries a week before the meeting officially started. De Boer, the experienced diplomat, could see the Danish text it would be a disaster and says that the UN tried desperately to stop it but failed. Within days the worst had happened. The text had been leaked to the Guardian, put on the internet and had outraged the 157-odd countries who had not seen it. From then on, the meeting was polarised. ...


Man! That was so easy!!

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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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Sat, May 29, 2010
from McClatchy, via Miami Herald:
As oil spill damages Gulf, will U.S. change energy use?
Are the worst spill in U.S. history and images of dead birds and toxic syrup lapping at Gulf shores shocking enough to be a tipping point for energy policy and consumer behavior, however? Will Americans rush to smaller cars or spend more to buy hybrids? Will politicians embrace gas taxes and charges on large carbon polluters or adopt other measures to punish fossil fuel-burning and encourage alternative energy use? ... For now, many experts say Americans aren't ready to change. "I don't think it's a game-changer," said Antoine Halff, the head of commodities research at Newedge, a New York-based brokerage firm. "It drives home the risky nature of meeting the demand for oil," but he predicted that perspective largely would be offset by a more powerful reflex: "People like to have their cake and eat it too."... The searing images of the spill already are having some impact. In a USA Today/Gallup poll released this week, 55 percent of those polled said environmental protection should be prioritized, even if it meant limiting U.S. energy production. In the same poll, however, 50 percent said they still supported increased offshore drilling.... ...


Maybe "having your cheap and hating it too."

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Tue, May 25, 2010
from New York Times:
Inspector General's Inquiry Faults Regulators
Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil -- and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general's report to be released this week. The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry. ...


From an efficiency standpoint this is genius!

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Tue, May 25, 2010
from New York Times:
Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead
In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records. The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. ...


It's not so much a moratorium as it is a lessatorium.

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Sat, May 22, 2010
from Eurepean Science Foundation, via Reuters:
'Double trouble' in acidic, warming oceans - study
Acidification of the oceans means "double trouble" for marine life from corals to shellfish since it is adding to stresses caused by global warming, a study showed on Wednesday. "The oceans are more acidic than they have ever been for at least 20 million years," according to the report by the European Science Foundation. On current trends, seas could be 150 percent more acidic by 2100 than they were in pre-industrial times. Sea water is acidifying because carbon dioxide, released to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, is slightly corrosive in water. That makes it harder for creatures such as corals, lobsters, crabs or oysters to build their protective shells.... Among worrying precedents were fossil records of a leap in ocean acidity 55 million years ago that caused a spasm of extinctions of creatures living on the ocean floor, he said. That pulse may have been caused by natural releases of methane. ...


Yes, but it may be doubly invisible.

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Wed, May 19, 2010
from Charleston Gazette:
Hundreds turn out for EPA mountaintop removal hearing
Several hundred coal industry supporters on Tuesday evening objected to the Obama administration's plan to crack down on mountaintop removal coal mining, urging federal regulators to back off a threatened veto of the permit for a huge mine in Logan County. Coal miners and their families, along with other industry employees, supporters and political leaders, packed a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing held as part of EPA's review of whether to block Arch Coal Inc.'s Spruce No. 1 Mine... Supporters of the permit complained that EPA was wrong to step in after a mining permit was already issued... ...


Government MUST NOT stand in the way of our right to destroy our world!

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Tue, May 11, 2010
from Inter Press Service:
Adding More Coal to the Fire
Bucking recommendations to build up renewable energy sources, Argentina is forging ahead with a plan that will increase its dependence on coal, regarded as the most polluting fossil fuel. Next to the Rio Turbio coal mine, in the southern Argentine province of Santa Cruz, a group of private companies is building a coal-fired thermoelectric power station that will supply electricity to the national grid. Environmentalists are opposing the power plant, designed to have a capacity of 240 megawatts, consume 5,400 tonnes of coal a day and produce 1.6 million tonnes of waste a year, the disposal of which is not clearly addressed in the environmental impact study, they say. ...


I'd say it's about time to start crying for Argentina.

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Tue, May 11, 2010
from New York Times:
Energy Interests Spend Millions for Their Seat at the Climate Table
Businesses with significant stakes in the outcome of climate and energy legislation ramped up lobbying spending earlier this year as they worked to shape the Senate bill scheduled to be unveiled this week. Electric utilities and the coal, chemical and natural gas industries in particular boosted influence efforts and appear poised to receive key parts of what they sought in new climate policies. Utilities and coal are likely to see language that lets power plants escape most penalties for greenhouse gas emissions in the early years of a carbon restriction program, according to those familiar with the draft legislation. Chemical companies could garner a delay in having to comply with new rules. Natural gas hopes to win incentives that would help companies increase their share of the energy market. ...


We wouldn't want to be in a hurry would we?

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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 BBC:
Nature loss 'to damage economies'
The Earth's ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned. The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach "tipping points" where they rapidly become less useful to humanity. Such tipping points could include rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef death. Last month, scientists confirmed that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010.... The global abundance of vertebrates - the group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish - fell by about one-third between 1970 and 2006, the UN says.... "If the world made equivalent losses in share prices, there would be a rapid response and widespread panic."... "Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity, or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050." ...


And who are you to be calling my belief system an illusion?

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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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Wed, May 5, 2010
from BBC:
'Profound' decline in fish stocks shown in UK records
Over-fishing means UK trawlers have to work 17 times as hard for the same fish catch as 120 years ago, a study shows. Researchers used port records dating from the late 1800s, when mechanised boats were replacing sailing vessels. In the journal Nature Communications, they say this implies "an extrordinary decline" in fish stocks and "profound" ecosystem changes. Four times more fish were being landed in UK ports 100 years ago than today, and catches peaked in 1938. "Over a century of intensive trawl fishing has severely depleted UK seas of bottom living fish like halibut, turbot, haddock and plaice," said Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the Marine Conservation Society and one of the study's authors.... "If you get a 50 percent increase from 2 percent of a species' former abundance, you get to 3 percent of its former abundance, so you shouldn't celebrate too hard," he said. "That's why this perspective is important." ...


Peak Ocean? How do we geoengineer our way out of that?

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Wed, Apr 28, 2010
from GOOD:
On Fracking and Human Folly
The [Columbia Natural Gas] man described how they would get through the Devonian shale beneath Ingraffea's 70 acres using a method called hydraulic fracturing, and that it was very safe and the impact on the surface of his land would be minimal. Ingraffea didn't buy the woods with the small trout stream for the Devonian shale or natural gas reserves, so he was surprised--but not for the reasons the man at his door that day might have thought. Ingraffea has his Ph.D. in rock fracture mechanics and knows all about Devonion shale. He also knows all about hydraulic fracturing: He's been teaching courses on fracture mechanics at Cornell since 1977.... When fracking knocked on his front door that day, he knew it was also coming to his neighbors' doors, to his whole community around Ithaca. "I looked at my situation and said: Crap, I know a lot about what's going on here and I know that what's being told to the public is not the complete story. If I don't say something, I'm just like one of my bad examples." So, like a true professor, he made a PowerPoint lecture about it. In fracking, the actual splitting of the rock is only one part of a very large, very complex process. Ingraffea uses that word throughout his lecture: "large" (also "big," "huge," "immense," "giant"). Focusing on the fracking itself to determine the safety of a given mining operation, he says, is like looking at a generator to find out if an engine is good or bad. Yeah, it's a key part of the process, but it's also just that: one part of a very (you guessed it) big process. In order to hydraulically fracture, a company has to use certain chemicals--hydrochloric and citric acid, ammonium persulfate, dimethylformamide, petroleum distillate, potassium chloride..... Rather, Ingraffea suggests we use natural gas as a way to wean ourselves off coal, the dirtiest fuel we burn. But this, he says, points to the largest myth of all, the myth that "somebody's in control." We have, he says, "No national energy strategy, no oversight to maintain the standard of living while decreasing our impact on the environment, which should be the cornerstone of any energy policy." ...


I'm reasonably sure the Holy Ghost of the Invisible Hand is "in control."

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from Business Insurance:
Insurance risk managers worry climate may change rules: Survey
More that three-quarters of risk managers say they are concerned about regulatory risk arising from climate change, according to a survey released Monday during the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s Annual Conference & Exhibition in Boston. In a survey of more than 200 risk managers across a variety of industries, nearly 79 percent of respondents indicated that they believe their organizations will have to address regulatory risks imminently or in the near term, within two to 10 years.... Nearly 31 percent said their companies would have to pay closer attention to climate risks, while 26 percent said they would have to change some products in response to increased liability or to take advantage of subsidies. Twenty-five percent said they would change pricing to compensate for increased risk, and 22 percent were not sure of the effect on risk management. About 16 percent said they would assess their current insurance coverage, and almost 15 percent said climate regulation would not affect their company. ...


Regulatory risk is way more likely than climate risks. Whew!

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Agricultural biodiversity research plan dropped
The conservation of crops and livestock in agricultural areas has become a high-profile victim of a radical overhaul of international agricultural research conducted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). 'Mobilising agricultural biodiversity for food security and resilience' was one of several thematic areas (or megaprogrammes) proposed by the CGIAR, a group of donors that funds a major international network of agricultural research centres.... But a meeting of donors and the CGIAR consortium earlier this month (1 April), held to discuss the proposed themes, failed to approve the idea of a separate programme on agricultural biodiversity. Instead, biodiversity will continue to be promoted as a "cross-cutting theme" alongside gender, it was decided. Certain aspects of agricultural biodiversity conservation - such as the use of a range of climate change-resistant crops by poorer farmers, and promoting nutrition and health through more crop diversity -- will be incorporated into other thematic areas that are still to be finalised. ...


I guess that megaprogramme on "Agricultural Colonialism via Monocrops" had more appeal.

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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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Sat, Apr 24, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Global warming ballot initiative: Teamsters and cities weigh in
The California Teamsters, one of the state's most powerful unions, Friday joined opponents of a proposed ballot initiative to delay enforcement of the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Teamsters, representing more than 250,000 union members in California, is the first major union to officially oppose the measure, which is backed by a group of oil companies, Republican legislators and conservative activists. The group is gathering signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot. "We must reject efforts to move backwards on protection of the environment," said Randy Cammack, co-chair of the Teamster's Public Affairs Council, which voted against the ballot measure. "Our members are citizens and neighbors as well as workers. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and live on the same planet with every other human being. ...


And as we know, there is no "I" in team!

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Fri, Apr 16, 2010
from BBC:
Whaling peace plan to go forward this year
A proposal aimed at bridging the split between whaling nations and their opponents will almost certainly come to governments for decision this year. Sources say it could involve Japan accepting quotas below current levels; but Iceland is opposing proposed catch limits and an international trade ban. Some anti-whaling countries see such a "peace package" as the only way to constrain whale hunting.... The "peace package" would set terms for the next 10 years, with a review after five. Initial quotas could be amended downwards if scientific assessments indicated the necessity. Governments would agree not to set quotas unilaterally. Whaling nations would have to agree to a monitoring regime involving observers on boats and a DNA register designed to keep illegal whalemeat out of the market. ...


Sure, guys, keep the Einsatz going for another decade. Just keep it at lower levels. For peace.

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Fri, Apr 16, 2010
from CBC:
Atlantic plastic garbage patch found
The floating garbage -- hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents -- was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between scenic Bermuda and Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores islands. The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say is likely to exist in other places around the globe. "We found the great Atlantic garbage patch," said Anna Cummins, who collected plastic samples on a sailing voyage in February. The debris is harmful for fish, sea mammals -- and at the top of the food chain, potentially humans -- even though much of the plastic has broken into such tiny pieces they are nearly invisible. Since there is no realistic way of cleaning the oceans, advocates say the key is to keep more plastic out by raising awareness and, wherever possible, challenging a throwaway culture that uses non-biodegradable materials for disposable products. "Our job now is to let people know that plastic ocean pollution is a global problem -- it unfortunately is not confined to a single patch," Cummins said. ...


"Confined to a single patch"!

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Tue, Apr 6, 2010
from Reuters:
Tense standoff in Peru as protest turns deadly
The violence broke out near the town of Chala, 372 miles south of the capital Lima, on Sunday when police tried to clear a roadblock set by the miners on the Panamerican Highway leading to Chile. Two of the dead were bystanders, including a taxi driver struck by a stray bullet and a woman who suffered a heart attack. Police said 20 protesters and nine officers were injured in the country's latest conflict over natural resources. Protesters wielding clubs and rocks continued to block a stretch of the road on Monday and traffic was snarled in both directions. Interior Minister Octavio Salazar vowed to try again in the coming hours to break the blockade, where some 3,800 miners are pitted against 1,200 police officers. President Alan Garcia, whose term has been marred by periodic clashes over his natural resources policies, said wildcat miners must pay taxes and stop polluting....Miners say Garcia's new measures, which aim to limit dredging in rivers and prevent wildcat mining in nature reserves, would leave them without jobs and that they need the work to support their families. ...


Let me get this straight. In Peru, the government is fighting for the environment?

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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, Mar 25, 2010
from Times Online:
Public scepticism prompts Science Museum to rename climate exhibition
The Science Museum is revising the contents of its new climate science gallery to reflect the wave of scepticism that has engulfed the issue in recent months. The decision by the 100-year-old London museum reveals how deeply scientific institutions have been shaken by the public's reaction to revelations of malpractice by climate scientists. The museum is abandoning its previous practice of trying to persuade visitors of the dangers of global warming. It is instead adopting a neutral position, acknowledging that there are legitimate doubts about the impact of man-made emissions on the climate. Even the title of the £4 million gallery has been changed to reflect the museum's more circumspect approach. The museum had intended to call it the Climate Change Gallery, but has decided to change this to Climate Science Gallery to avoid being accused of presuming that emissions would change the temperature. ...


How about we change your name to "The Belief Museum"? The Cro-magnon yee-hawing atop Brontosaurus will be a big draw.

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Fri, Mar 19, 2010
from Times Online:
World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction
Proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar.... Campaigners reacted with dismay. Oliver Knowles, of Greenpeace, said: "It is an own-goal by Japan. By pushing for a few more years of this luxury product it has put the future of bluefin, and the future of its own supply, at serious risk. The abject failure of governments here at Cites to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future, and sets the species on a pathway to extinction."... The Cites process, which requires a two-thirds majority for a proposal to be adopted, is vulnerable to well-funded lobbying by countries and industries that depend on trade in a species. The vested interests exploit uncertainties in the estimates of population numbers, and strike backroom deals to secure the votes of developing countries where endangered species are far down the list of political priorities. ...


The "world" didn't vote -- the moneyed status quo voted.

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Tue, Mar 16, 2010
from University of Minnesota, via EurekAlert:
Researcher finds people will forgo luxury for green products when status is on mind
Environmentally friendly products are everywhere one looks. Energy efficient dishwashers, bamboo towels, the paperless Kindle and, of course, the ubiquitous Prius are all around. But why do people buy these "green" products? Do they care about the environment or is there something else at play? "Green purchases are often motivated by status," says Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "People want to be seen as being altruistic. Nothing communicates that better than by buying green products that often cost more and are of lower quality but benefit the environment for everyone." In the recently published paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," Griskevicius and co-authors find that people will forgo luxury and comfort for a green item. The catch? People will forgo indulging for themselves only when others can see it. "Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," says Griskevicius. ...


"Competitive altruism" -- is that like aggressive kindness?

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Thu, Mar 11, 2010
from Standard-Freeholder:
Massive water crisis looming: Gwynne Dyer speaks in city
Dyer presented a multitude of "frightening scenarios" which could occur in the next 20-25 years and he did not spare Canada. He said our country could be confronted with a "desperate" United States if the lower states -- vulnerable to severe droughts -- run short of water. "Should we make a (water-supply) deal on our terms before (the U.S. is forced to divert Great Lakes water unilaterally)?" Dyer said... "You could see the methane gas bubbling up through the melt," Dyer said, recalling eye-witness accounts near Yellowknife, N.W.T. "The kids get kitchen matches, find the melt ponds and set them on fire -- they burn all summer."... "They're drawing up scenarios where armed forced have an enormous role in taking on emerging threats," Dyer said, explaining that water shortages will ignite international tensions. ...


Just because he's been right most of the time doesn't mean he's right this time.

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Fri, Mar 5, 2010
from Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Scientist: 'There's still time' to save the oceans
"There's a great opportunity to take action to save what we can while we still can, but we first have to understand what is going on," Earle said in the Montana State University Friends of Stegner Lecture at the Ellen Theatre on Thursday evening. "What is going on," according to Earle, includes the deterioration of the world's coral reefs, the overfishing and poaching of important ocean carnivores like the blue fin tuna and increased pollution of the sea, largely a result of Western abundance and overindulgence. Due to industrialized nations' insatiable appetite for tuna, a 200-kilogram tuna can be sold for $100,000, Earle said, making it one of the most overfished species in the world.... "We take 100 million tons of wildlife out of the sea every year," she said, "and most of it is just bycatch," caught unintentionally by fishermen after the big-ticket fish.... "This is a moment in time, maybe a decade, when there's still a chance," she said. ...


Eminent scientists do great standup.

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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from Mother Jones:
The Chamber of Commerce vs. Climate Science
William Kovacs, the US Chamber of Commerce's vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs, last year famously called for a "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" on climate change. Kovacs was referencing the lightning-rod 1925 court case that made it illegal to teach anything other than divine creation in Tennessee public schools -- and he wanted a similar public hearing in which climate science would be put on the stand. The remark drew plenty of bad press, and Kovacs soon recanted his "inappropriate" analogy. But it looks like the chamber is angling for that monkey trial after all, by way of a lawsuit it's filed against the Environmental Protection Agency that could be the first wave of a big-business assault on greenhouse gas regulations. ...


We need a US Chamber of Climate.

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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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Sat, Feb 6, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Movement to suspend California's global-warming law gathers steam
Republican politicians and conservative activists are launching a ballot campaign to suspend California's landmark global-warming law, in what they hope will serve as a showcase for a national backlash against climate regulations. Supporters say they have "solid commitments" of nearly $600,000 to pay signature gatherers for a November initiative aimed at delaying curbs on the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants and factories until the state's unemployment rate drops.... "We are on fire," said GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue, a sponsor of the proposed initiative. "People are calling from all over the country. This will be the most intense campaign the state has seen in 50 years." ...


A rather unfortunate metaphor, dude.

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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?!?

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Thu, Dec 3, 2009
from Climate Wire:
Rising Partisanship Sharply Erodes U.S. Public's Belief in Global Warming
On the eve of major international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, belief in global warming in the United States has slipped to the lowest point in 12 years of measuring, according to a poll from New York-based Harris Interactive Inc. As U.S. negotiators fly to the Danish capital to forge a political agreement based on President Obama's proposal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent, most of the American public doesn't know what the talks are about, according to the Harris survey. Just 51 percent of adults questioned said they believed carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would cause the Earth's average temperature to increase. Two years ago, fully 71 percent of respondents linked greenhouse gases directly to global warming. ...


Imagination has always been an essential aspect of being an American.

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Fri, Nov 20, 2009
from Discovery News:
Toxic Butts
Even with a small amount of unburnt tobacco clinging to it, a single cigarette butt soaked for a day is enough to turn a liter of water a sickly yellow brown and kill 50 percent of fish swimming in it. Without tobacco, it takes about 4 smoked filters to do the same job. That's a lot of butts in a small area, and the research team that conducted the laboratory study, led by Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University, is quick to point out that no research has been done yet to test how much poison leaches from butts into ponds, lakes, streams and the ocean... According to one estimate, some 4.5 trillion filters from spent smokes make their way into the environment every year. When immersed in water, each one becomes a time-released capsule of compounds like nicotine, cancer-causing benzenes, heavy metals and other dangerous compounds.... "You might as well have small vials of toxins -- trillions of them -- in the water." ...


But I thought nicotine was a nutrient.

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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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Sun, Sep 27, 2009
from New Scientist:
Population: Overconsumption is the real problem
THERE is a pervading myth that efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will be to no avail unless we "do something" about population growth. Even seasoned analysts talk about the threat of "exponential" population growth. But there is no exponential growth. In most of the world fertility rates are falling fast, and the countries where population growth continues are those that contribute least to our planetary predicament.... Yet the arguments still don't fit the reality. The population "bomb" is fast being defused. Women across the poor world are having dramatically fewer babies than their mothers did -- mostly out of choice, not compulsion. Half a century ago, the worldwide average for the number of children a woman had was between five and six. Now she has 2.6. In the face of such a fall it is hard to see what more "doing something" about global population might achieve.... Even if the world population does stabilise soon and starts to glide downwards, that won't solve the world's environmental problems. The real issue is not overpopulation but overconsumption -- mostly in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population. ...


Overconsumption leads to growth, and that's what the economy needs, right?

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Mon, Sep 14, 2009
from :
From the ApocaDesk
As a film, The Age of Stupid is a strange brew, a combination science fiction drama and present-day documentary. The premise of the narrative makes it work: An archivist in the year 2050 sits atop the now permanently melted Arctic in a structure that houses all the great art and books and media of the history of humanity. The Archivist, played by Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects), muses aloud about the imminent destruction of the habitat, as he sifts through the footage of the past, trying to figure out the answer to an essential question.
Why didn't we try and save ourselves?
The story is a pastiche of snippets of CNN and Fox broadcasters and other media moments, but six main narratives are threaded together, tied more or less loosely by the idea of oil. These are real people, and they represent a broad cross-section of age and geographical location, from the New Orleans-based Alvin Duvernay to 8 year old Jamila, an Iraqi refugee living, homeless, in Jordan.
A third main thread of the story -- in addition to the archivist and the real humans -- are numerous animated pieces that info-graphically and entertainingly tell the story of how mass consumerism and obsession with oil combined to lead to the ruination of the planet.
Three-fold, these elements of The Age of Stupid hold together, anchored by the sweet sad face of The Archivist.
Director Franny Armstrong tackled one facet of consumerism in McLibel and now she's grappling with a larger -- well, the largest == canvas. It was four years in the making, and funded by a "crowd" - i.e. numerous smaller investors, and her film is an entertaining and harrowing look at now through eyes of later.
According to the filmmakers, the documentary started off as a Soderbergh Traffic-style narrative, weaving the six real folks into one complex story called Crude. Knowing that may help you view the film; for me, giant issues of habitat collapse are missing from The Age of Stupid -- most notably the erosive effects of corporate farming, and the potential for potential pandemic plague to be cooked up its cauldrons. Then there's over-population, only slightly brushed against in the film. But understanding that Armstrong and company were hoping to stay on message with oil helps focus an otherwise potentially overwhelming subject.
So as a film, The Age of Stupid works, and as a piece of persuasion... well, you had me at stupid. The title is fun to say, and can morph into any number of entertaining phrases: "Have you seen 'Stupid' yet?" "I thought 'Stupid' was brilliant." "Hey, I'll join the 'Stupid' team!"
The Age of Stupid is going its own way in hopes of building a team of Stupids to help. On Monday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 (Eastern time), a New York-based live presentation of the film will feature the movie, followed by a panel discussion between the filmmakers, scientists and environmental leaders, with Radiohead's Thom Yorke wrapping up the event with an acoustic performance of the film's title track. This gathering will be as green as green can be, from a carbon emission standpoint, and will tape-delay broadcast to more than 30 countries. Hey, we're all in this together, or, rather, all going down together if we don't take the film's message to heart.
Ultimately, to rate this film, to recommend it, to criticize is absurd. On the brink of the December climate gathering in Copenhagen, on the precipice of disaster, shall we quibble about the entertainment value of a piece of culture like The Age of Stupid? The real question is: Does it contribute to the necessary awakening of humanity?
Our stupid answer is: It sure does, stupid.
For a complete list of screens -- there are more than 440 theaters involved -- go to www.FathomEvents.com. And please, carpool, bicycle or use public transportation. Because driving yourself, alone, to the theater would just be ... well, you know. For more info, go to www.ageofstupid.net. ...


It's the collapse of the habitat, stupid!

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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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Sun, Aug 16, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
UN climate change chief: If we continue at this rate, we won't make it
Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, has today closed the latest round of talks in Bonn with the stark warning that a deal will not be reached at the Copenhagen meeting this December unless the pace of negotiations increases significantly.... He said that negotiators could not afford to lose sight of the scale of the challenge that they faced, reminding them that they needed to recognise that "serious climate change is equal to game over". De Boer also offered a stinging rebuke to those critics arguing action on climate change could be delayed, saying that Copenhagen offered the last best chance of avoiding catastrophe. "As Copenhagen approaches, I keep hearing those who say we can delay action on climate change, that we can survive a rise of more than two degrees in temperature, that we can safely cut costs and safely cut corners, and that there are other priorities that we need to be focusing on," he said. "I believe this is a way to a global disaster. A climate change deal in Copenhagen this year is simply an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change slipping out of control." ...


Do we then get to push "restart" on this game?

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Fri, Aug 7, 2009
from New Scientist:
Consumerism is 'eating the future'
[A]ccording to leading ecologists speaking this week in Albuquerque at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, few of us realise that the main cause of the current environmental crisis is human nature. More specifically, all we're doing is what all other creatures have ever done to survive, expanding into whatever territory is available and using up whatever resources are available, just like a bacterial culture growing in a Petri dish till all the nutrients are used up. What happens then, of course, is that the bugs then die in a sea of their own waste.... He points out that like the accelerated growth of a cancer, the human population has quadrupled in the past 100 years, and at this rate will reach a size in 2025 that leads to global collapse and catastrophe.... In an ideal world, it would be a counter-advertising campaign to make conspicuous consumption shameful. "Advertising is an instrument for construction of people's everyday reality, so we could use the same media to construct a cultural paradigm in which conspicuous consumption is despised," he says. "We've got to make people ashamed to be seen as a 'future eater'." ...


The business community and vested interests would surely sponsor those PSAs!

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Mon, Jul 13, 2009
from New York Times:
Boiling the Frog
Is America on its way to becoming a boiled frog?... the consensus of the climate experts is utterly terrifying. At this point, the central forecast of leading climate models -- not the worst-case scenario but the most likely outcome -- is utter catastrophe, a rise in temperatures that will totally disrupt life as we know it, if we continue along our present path. How to head off that catastrophe should be the dominant policy issue of our time. But it isn't, because climate change is a creeping threat rather than an attention-grabbing crisis... Unfortunately, if we wait to act until the climate crisis is that obvious, catastrophe will already have become inevitable. ...


No matter what metaphor -- frogs, canaries, whatever -- we are pretty much dead meat.

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Fri, Jul 10, 2009
from Los Angeles Times:
Despite Obama's pledge, G-8 makes little headway on global warming
Reporting from Washington and L'Aquila, Italy -- Addressing leaders of the world's most important economies early Thursday, President Obama wasted no time in proclaiming a new day for U.S. policy on climate change. "I know that in the past, the United States has sometimes fallen short of meeting our responsibilities," he said. "So let me be clear: Those days are over." But by the end of the day, when the Group of 8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, wrapped up its deliberations on climate, Obama found himself stymied by many of the same roadblocks that plagued previous efforts to tackle global warming. Leaders of the most developed nations again declined to commit themselves to any specific actions now or in the immediate future to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming -- actions that would require increasing energy prices, raising taxes or imposing other unpopular economic measures on their people. Instead, they embraced the high-sounding goal of reducing their own emissions by 80 percent and worldwide emissions by 50 percent by 2050 -- without pledging to take any specific steps to get there. ...


Our leaders need to get the lead out!

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Tue, Jul 7, 2009
from Christian Science Monitor:
Will we empty the oceans?
Early European explorers to the Americas encountered an astounding abundance of marine life. White beluga whales, now limited to the arctic, swam as far south as Boston Bay. Cod off Newfoundland were so plentiful that fishermen could catch them with nothing more than a weighted basket lowered into the water. As late as the mid-19th century, river herring ran so thick in the eastern United States that wading across certain waterways meant treading on fish. And everywhere sharks were so numerous that, after hauling in their catches, fishers often found them stripped to the bone. So how did we get from that world, where the oceans teemed with marine life, to the growing aquatic wasteland we see today? The answer: One catch at a time. ...


Miles-long driftnets, factory fishing, and trawlers might have had something to do with it.

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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 legislation, said the measure could be in jeopardy... Peterson is leading a growing Democratic mutiny against the measure. He claims support of more than 40 lawmakers who represent rural interests and worry the legislation tilts too heavily in favor of urban communities. ...


Maybe in seven or eight billion years newly-evolved hominids might have the courage to tackle this.

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from Stanford University, via EurekAlert:
When fish farms are built along the coast, where does the waste go?
All those fish penned up together consume massive amounts of commercial feed, some of which drifts off uneaten in the currents. And the crowded fish, naturally, defecate and urinate by the tens of thousands, creating yet another unpleasant waste stream. The wastes can carry disease, causing damage directly. Or the phosphate and nitrates in the mix may feed an algae bloom that sucks the oxygen from the water, leaving it uninhabitable, a phenomenon long associated with fertilizer runoff. It has been widely assumed that the effluent from pens would be benignly diluted by the sea if the pens were kept a reasonable distance from shore, said Jeffrey Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. But early results from a new Stanford computer simulation based on sophisticated fluid dynamics show that the icky stuff from the pens will travel farther, and in higher concentrations, than had been generally assumed, Koseff said. ...


"It has been widely assumed" that such assumptions are asstupid.

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Wed, Feb 4, 2009
from New York Times:
Dark Days for Green Energy
Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting. Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government. Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks. ...


They're laying off people working in renewable energy? Is this the "invisible hand of the market" picking the pocket of my future?

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Thu, Jan 29, 2009
from New York Times:
Detroit Calls Emissions Proposals Too Strict
DETROIT A -- automakers said Monday that they were working toward President Obama's goal of reducing fuel consumption, but rapid imposition of stricter emissions standards could force them to drastically cut production of larger, more profitable vehicles, adding to their financial duress.... The California regulations, if enacted today, "would basically kill the industry, said David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, an independent research organization in Ann Arbor, Mich. "It would have a devastating effect on everybody, and not just the domestics." ...


I'm not thinking Detroit has shown much reason to trust its judgment, recently. Isn't that what they said about seat belts? Air bags?

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Tue, Jan 13, 2009
from Associated Press:
Removing cats to protect birds backfires on island
BANGKOK, Thailand -- It seemed like a good idea at the time: Remove all the feral cats from a famous Australian island to save the native seabirds. But the decision to eradicate the felines from Macquarie island allowed the rabbit population to explode and, in turn, destroy much of its fragile vegetation that birds depend on for cover, researchers said Tuesday. Removing the cats from Macquarie "caused environmental devastation" that will cost authorities 24 million Australian dollars ($16.2 million) to remedy, Dana Bergstrom of the Australian Antarctic Division and her colleagues wrote in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology. ...


With the toe bone connected to the foot bone...

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Mon, Dec 29, 2008
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast
The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay. Millions of acres of oil deposits, mapped in the 1980s when then-Interior Secretary James Watt and Energy Secretary Donald Hodel pushed for California exploration, lie a few miles from the forested North Coast and near the mouth of the Russian River, as well as off Malibu, Santa Monica and La Jolla in Southern California. "These are the targets," said Richard Charter, a lobbyist for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund who worked for three decades to win congressional bans on offshore drilling. "You couldn't design a better formula to create adverse impacts on California's coastal-dependent economy." ...


I'm sure Bush will come up with something!

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Wed, Dec 10, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Fisherman land 30 per cent increase in North Sea cod quotas
Scottish fishermen have won a 30 per cent increase in the amount of cod they are allowed to land next year in return for signing up to tough new regulations.... Previously any fish under a certain size had to be discarded in a bid to preserve stocks, but under the new deal it will be prohibited to throw back any fish that is "marketable". Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, warned the new regulations could be burdensome, depending on the small print. ...


Talk to the Nova Scotians and Newfoundlanders about their former cod, you freakin' idiots -- and here's some small print for you: YOU'RE FISHING UNSUSTAINABLY!

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Sat, Nov 29, 2008
from Reuters:
Surging shoppers kill New York Wal-Mart worker
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A man working for discount retailer Wal-Mart was killed on Friday in a stampede by frenzied shoppers who broke down doors and surged into a Long Island, New York store, a police spokesman said. The 34-year-old man was at the entrance of the Valley Stream Wal-Mart store just after it opened at 5 a.m. and was knocked to the ground, the police report said.... Wal-Mart said it was saddened by the death of the man, who was working for a temporary employment agency serving the retailer, and by the injuries suffered by shoppers. ...


This poor temp worker had no idea how temp he was gonna be.

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Fri, Nov 28, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Costs of Food Waste Pile Up
... Food waste has been a chronic problem for restaurants and grocery stores -- with millions of tons lost along the way as crops are hauled hundreds of miles, stored for weeks in refrigerators and prepared on hectic restaurant assembly lines. But the historically high price of commodities is making it an even bigger drag on the bottom line.... Roughly 30 percent of food in the United States goes to waste, costing some $48 billion annually, according to a Stockholm International Water Institute study. A 2004 University of Arizona study estimated that 40 to 50 percent of food in the United States is wasted. ...


This story ... makes me want to vomit!

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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
from Associated Press:
One-third of China's Yellow River heavily polluted with industrial discharge
BEIJING (AP) _ Newly released scientific results show one-third of the famed Yellow River, which supplies water to millions of people in northern China, is heavily polluted by industrial waste and unsafe for any use. The Yellow River, the second-longest in China, has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop because of diversion for booming cities. The river supplies a region chronically short of water but rich in industry. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee said 33.8 percent of the river's water sampled registered worse than level 5, meaning it's unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use and even agriculture, according to criteria used by the United Nations Environmental Program. ...


The Yellow River: Livin' up to its name!

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Sun, Nov 2, 2008
from Conservation International, via EurekAlert:
Eastern Pacific tuna hang in the balance
Whether this 16-nation Commission will act to protect declining tuna stocks, or once again demonstrate their impotence to do so, remains to be seen. The fate of Pacific tuna stocks hangs in the balance. Tuna populations are showing signs of trouble in the eastern tropical Pacific. Bigeye tuna populations are falling to low levels, the average size of captured yellowfin tuna is in decline and high levels of very small juvenile tuna are being caught accidentally. The Commission's own scientific staff have issued repeated warnings about these signs and urged nations to collectively adopt measures that include establishment of closure periods for overall stock recoveries, special closure areas where fish are most reproductively active and limits on annual catches. Despite five attempts in two years, the Commission has yet to agree on a single measure to address overfishing. ...


If only there was a Viagra for Commissions like this.

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Tue, Oct 14, 2008
from Daily Mail (UK):
Rick Stein vows to continue using endangered fish in his restaurants
Rick Stein, Britain's top seafood chef, has vowed to go on using endangered species of fish in his acclaimed restaurants despite warnings of over-fishing. The 61-year-old claimed following government and fishery guidelines would lose him 80 per cent of his menus and he would not be able to keep his four restaurants in Padstow going. And, controversially, he questioned whether the fish stocks situation is really as bad as the government and marine conservationists are saying. ...


Now or later, Rick.
Now or later.
Idiot.

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Mon, Oct 6, 2008
from Brisbane Courier-Mail:
Australians 'bored' by climate change
AUSTRALIANS are becoming bored with the issue of climate change and many still doubt whether the phenomenon is actually happening, according to a new survey. Only 46 per cent of Australians said they would take action on climate change if they were in charge of making decisions for Australia, a dip from 55 per cent last year, according to the Ipos-Eureka Social Research Institute's third annual climate change survey. ...


Well, one thing we know for sure: the Apocalypse won't be boring!

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Sat, Sep 27, 2008
from Chicago Tribune:
Citing cost, USDA kills pesticide-testing program
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive --a decision critics say could make it harder to protect consumers from chemicals in their food. Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food. ...


Too bad their isn't a pesticide that's effective against the Bush administration. Oh wait. It's called voting.

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Thu, Aug 28, 2008
from ScienceAlert (Australia and New Zealand):
Climate code red -- the case for emergency action
"Very few, if any, people in government get the whole story, so there's a gaping hole between what the science is telling us and the policy response," says Spratt. "Politicians think you can negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry, but you do so at the planet's peril. If business-as-usual pollution continues there will be catastrophic consequences." 'Code Red' refers to the system employed in hospitals to alert staff that a patient needs advanced life support; it activates an emergency response. The planet, the authors contend, needs that level of life support now. ...


You mean to tell me you can't negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry? Hold the phones!

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Wed, Jul 16, 2008
from London Guardian:
Human consumption: Flying in the face of logic
"In 1968, six years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring - the book regarded as marking the beginning of modern environmental consciousness - a young American entomology professor at Stanford University, California, published The Population Bomb... When Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, there were 3.5 billion people on Earth; there are now 6.7 billion." ...


Clearly, people have been too busy copulating to read!

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Mon, Jul 7, 2008
from University of Exeter, via EurekAlert:
Study shows rise in Cornwall's dolphin, whale and porpoise deaths
The research team analysed records of cetacean strandings from 1911 to 2006 from around Cornwall's north and south coasts and the Isles of Scilly. They found a marked increase from the early 1980s, with common dolphins and harbour porpoises being the worst-affected species. In total, fewer than 50 cetacean strandings a year occurred in Cornwall in the 1980s but numbers since 2000 have ranged from 100 to 250 per annum.... The researchers analysed records of 2,257 cetaceans, 862 of which were common dolphins. They found that, since 1990, at least 61 percent of incidents in Cornwall are the result of fishing activity, with animals being caught up in nets in a phenomenon known as 'bycatch'. The seas around Cornwall are known to be a major hotspot for large scale fisheries, with many vessels coming from other EU nations. ...


I thought that was called
collateral damage.

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Tue, Jun 17, 2008
from CTV (Canada):
Supermarkets contribute to failing fisheries by selling 'Red List'
North American supermarkets can be blamed for contributing to the looming global fisheries collapse, according to a report authored by Greenpeace.... "As key players in the seafood supply chain, retailers have an important role to play in ensuring their customers only have one seafood choice: fair and sustainable products," says the report. ...


Hey, there's a market for this stuff!

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Thu, Jun 5, 2008
from Pew Institute for Ocean Science, via ScienceDaily:
Quotas Allow More Caviar Export, Further Jeopardize Endangered Sturgeon
[M]ore caviar will be exported from Caspian Sea and Amur River states this year as a result of unacceptably permissive new trade quotas... Most sturgeon species are endangered and some, like beluga sturgeon, are threatened with extinction. These quotas will further damage this ancient fish's chance of recovery and survival, since sturgeon must be killed to harvest their prized eggs which are then processed into caviar, the group says.... "Sturgeon have been on earth since the time of the dinosaurs, but are being wiped out because of inadequate international and domestic controls. We urge consumers to protest with their wallets by not purchasing any wild-caught caviar." ...


Once they're gone, we'll just have to find another exotic item to value to extinction, lovey. Turtle tongues, anyone?

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Thu, May 8, 2008
from Sacramento Bee:
Law firm vows to sue if U.S. links climate to polar bear
"A Sacramento law firm known for its conservative advocacy is poised to join the political melee over the fate of the polar bear, vowing Wednesday to sue the government if global warming is cited as a threat to the species. The Pacific Legal Foundation's warning comes in response to a much-anticipated decision next week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether to protect Alaskan polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The service faces a court-ordered deadline of May 15 for that ruling.... Reed Hopper, a foundation attorney, claimed polar bears are thriving and already adequately protected." ...


Thriving? Howzabout Reed Hopper goes and gets some polar bear facts from, say, http://www.wwf.ca/?

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Sat, Mar 22, 2008
from FishUpdate.com:
North Sea protected area network would devastate industry, claims trade body
According to the WWF UK report, published today, a network of marine reserves, that cover at least 30 per cent of the North Sea, is needed to help rebuild populations of many fish species, and protect the habitats upon which these, and other species depend. In the report, 'A Return to Abundance: A Case for Marine Reserves in the North Sea', WWF-UK suggests a network of five experimental marine reserves that it says will improve the sustainability of fisheries, protect biodiversity, and help establish a healthy ecosystem....

Describing the proposals as "flawed", Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen�s Federation said "The sweeping assumption is made that very large fixed marine protected areas would prove beneficial in the North Sea based on evidence gained from elsewhere. Such an assumption cannot safely be made, given the unique nature of the mixed fisheries in the North Sea." ...


What a laughable concept: using evidence from elsewhere to protect a common resource.
Besides, the fish are getting more valuable all the time!

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Mon, Jan 28, 2008
from The Independent:
Big business says addressing climate change rates very low on the agenda
"Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week. Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates. The survey demolishes George Bush's insistence that global warming is best addressed through voluntary measures undertaken by business ..." ...


So if world leaders can't do it, and big business isn't interested, then we figure it's up to us little people to take care of the planet. Of course, we might have to move the world leaders and big business out of the way...

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