What went on in 2014?

December, 2014

12/23/2014

  • This is the kind of climate bill Congress should pass (but won’t): The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act would charge polluters for their CO2 emissions and redistribute the revenue to the public. Whitehouse and Schatz introduced the bill last month and plan to reintroduce it in the new Congress next year. What they call a “carbon fee” is essentially a carbon tax. Presumably they’re calling it a fee because of the public’s general aversion to taxes, but fee is actually a more apt name. Just like you pay a set fee for use of certain kinds of public infrastructure, like a toll road, companies should pay a set fee for using the atmosphere to dispose of their carbon pollution.

12/22/2014

  • Wyoming Republican Fights Ban on Controversial Climate-Science Standards: Rep. John Patton says kids should be taught "the most up-to-date science."
    • Patton is not a climate-change crusader. He believes the climate is changing but says that he does not know how much human activity contributes to that. But Patton says that his personal opinions are irrelevant.
    • "What I believe about global warming doesn't matter. We want students to have access to the most up-to-date science. Kids should have a chance to learn the science," Patton said.
    • Patton wants the state Board of Education to consider the standards based on their scientific merits and says politics should not play a role in that process. His bill would allow the state board to decide whether to reject or approve the guidelines.
    • "I think it's the right thing to do. The state Legislature has no business trying to decide what students can and can't learn," the lawmaker said.
    • A 30-member panel of science educators in the state has unanimously recommended that the Board of Education adopt the academic framework.
  • Oil sands leak that contaminated aquifer renews technology questions:
    • “Canadian Natural has detected elevated levels of hydrocarbons deep underground in a new monitoring well. We will continue to work closely with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to monitor and manage the situation,” the email stated.
    • The regulator said the well at Wolf Lake has stopped operating and CNRL can’t resume operations until it meets regulatory requirements.
    • Bartlett earlier said that public health and safety are not at risk and the nearest private water wells are 15 kilometres away.
    • He said CNRL will be required to clean up the aquifer.
    • Stewart, however, said it could take months for the steam to cool and the pressure to drop. He said that means any leaks from the well could continue for months.
    • He also expressed doubts that a cleanup is possible
    • “I don’t know how you get benzine out of an aquifer. There’s no process for filtering it out. It’s basically a mix of carcinogenic chemicals into this underground water system. It’s not like you can put in a scrubber and clean it all up,” Stewart said.
    • “The only solution to this is prevention, to actually make sure the technology being used it safe and not just taking the company’s word for it but actually having a strong independent regulator who’s looking after the public’s interest rather than issuing orders after the leak has happened.”
  • US energy policy review reveals US doesn’t have an energy policy: US oil and gas production have boomed, but the country still lacks a coherent energy strategy, according to an International Energy Agency review. The report credits the US for reducing greenhouse emissions, and encourages further investment in electricity infrastructure.
    • “Why not use this opportunity to put a price on carbon?” Ms. van der Hoeven said at Thursday’s event, hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank.
    • The US needs “predictable, effective national policies to encourage investment, greater coordination to encourage the integration of renewables, and a common understanding on the future of nuclear power," van der Hoeven said.
  • Less gassy cows and sheep could soon be on farms
    • vaccines to reduce belching
    • selective breeding
    • changing diets, to include more of kale, turnips, rape, and swedes reduces methane by up to a quarter.
  • 2014: Riding a Rocket, Divestment Movement Gains Momentum
    • More threatening than all of those things, however, is something the industry has never faced before: The growing belief among global leaders, investors, scientists, and large corporations that the use of fossil fuels must be sharply curtailed—if not phased out—for the sake of future generations.
    • Statements from the International Energy Agency, World Bank, the Organization for Economic and Co-operation and United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon have all reinforced the notion that most of the fossil fuel reserves already claimed by companies must stay in the ground—stranded—if the world is to avoid climate change that's catastrophic for coastal regions, food production, water supplies and more.
    • The latest acknowledgement of the conflict between fossil fuel company interests and the necessity of climate action came from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who recently told Parliament that the bank is reviewing the potential risks for investors of "unburnable carbon."
  • This Is the Stupidest Anti-Science Bullshit of 2014: A catalogue of shame.
  • Climate change: the Readers' Choice winner: The statement "Climate change is a hoax" won PolitiFact’s annual Readers' Poll for Lie of the Year with 31.8 percent of the vote.
    • Compared to the consensus among scientists, the percentage of Americans who believe in human-caused climate change is quite low. The latest Gallup polls for 2014 show that 25 percent of Americans are skeptical of global warming, while 40 percent are "concerned believers" in global warming.
    • Among skeptics, according to the poll, 80 percent of skeptics are Republicans, and 11 percent are Democrats. This partisan split carries over into Washington, said California Gov. Jerry Brown, who claimed "virtually no Republican" in Washington accepts climate change science. After finding fewer than 10 current Republican politicians who accept the science, we rated Brown’s claim Mostly True.
    • This will eventually cause problems for Republicans trying to court young people, said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. He said "only 3 percent of voters 18 to 34 don't believe that climate change is really happening." Murphy’s claim matched up with polling data, and we rated his claim True.

12/21/2014

  • America, Truck Yeah!: American car buyers are, as always, living in the present. With gas prices falling by more than $1 per gallon since this summer, consumers have responded by opting for big SUVs and light trucks instead of smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. In November, sales of the larger vehicles climbed by nearly 9 percent compared with the same month last year, while sales of the smaller ones dipped by a tenth of a percent. As the newly immortal Stephen Colbert would say, “carpe gasum.”
  • Signals That Ecological Laws Being Diluted Under Current Government Worrying:
    • "If we are going to dismantle the entire edifice of environmental laws and regulations, as this government seems to be doing, then what conviction and credibility will we carry internationally on climate change I don't know," Mr Ramesh told NDTV.
    • "Our position on climate change has not been pro-active and progressive in the last couple of years. India faces maximum vulnerability to climate change. There is no country which is going to be threatened by climate change as we are," he said.
  • Warming world's rising seas wash away some of South Florida's glitz:
    • Somewhere in this town, New York Magazine was later to report, Leonardo DiCaprio left a nightclub this weekend in early December with "nearly two dozen women".
    • What was not so widely reported was that South Beach stank of shit. There is no nice way to put it. The place smelled of human waste. There had been a brief, heavy downpour but the water could not escape, so the sewers backed up and filled the roads. The traffic slowed to walking pace or seized entirely, and the models tottering between the restaurants and hotels and clubs had to pick wide arcs on the pavements to avoid the nasty pools swelling from the gutters.
    • Only the people seemed to take it in their stride, perhaps because this sort of thing is no longer unusual in and around Miami.
    • A couple of days later I stood on a sealed road in a park in the southern suburbs of Miami – again ankle deep in water – with Harold Wanless, chairman and professor at the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami, to discuss why the place was so wet. The answer was not complicated. "The ocean has risen," he says with laugh. "It is what it is."
  • How the founder of clothier Patagonia became an opponent of dams:
    • Mr. Chouinard questions B.C. Hydro’s case for flooding 55 square kilometres, much of it farmland and traditional First Nations territory. “It really is a fallacy that hydro is clean power,” he argues. “It’s like ‘clean’ coal. There’s no such thing. I mean, with wind turbines and solar, it’s pretty crazy to destroy an entire river, destroy an entire valley, destroy some of the best agricultural land in Canada.”
    • Challenging the necessity of something isn’t new for him, just as DamNation, his company’s first feature-length documentary, is far from the only sign of its social conscience. A 2010 case study by Harvard University’s business school pointed out that, “most radically,” Patagonia has asked its customers to “buy less and think twice before they purchased a garment.” Or as Mr. Chouinard frames his anti-sale sales pitch: “Do you really need it, or do you just want it?”

12/20/2014

  • All It Takes For The Desolenator To Make Clean Drinking Water Is A Little Sunlight
  • EPA Coal Ash Standards a Setback for Environmental Groups:
    • Six years ago, there was a massive spill of coal ash sludge in Tennessee. Three years later, tons of coal ash swept into Lake Michigan. Last February, there was another spill and gray sludge spewed into the Dan River in North Carolina.
    • With each disaster, environmentalists sounded alarms and called for the byproduct of burning coal to be treated as hazardous waste. On Friday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the first standards for the coal-burning waste, but they were hardly what environmental groups were hoping for.
    • The EPA ruled that the ash can be treated like regular garbage, meaning regulating the stuff will be left up to states and watchful citizens.
  • U.S. Engaged in Torture After 9/11, Review Concludes: Just wanted to make a record of this report from 2013, as a precursor to the Senate report. These two reports should be enough to get the ball rolling….

12/19/2014

  • Growing Styrofoam out of mushrooms
  • NHL makes a bid to save the ice by going carbon neutral: As part of the plan, Constellation, a Baltimore-based energy company with 2.5 million customers, will provide carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates equivalent to the 550,000 metric tons of carbon the league uses in a season. That’s equivalent of taking about 115,000 cars off the road, or 50,000 US homes off the power grid, for one year, officials said.
  • Report suggests forest-cutting can have an immediate effect on climate: “Tropical deforestation on many scales influences local, regional, and even global climate. Deforestation-driven changes to water availability and climate variability could have strong implications for agricultural production systems and food security in some regions,” the report said.
  • Extremes concern as planet gets hotter and colder: Scientists predict that lethal heat waves in Europe, and ice storms and big freezes across the globe, could become regular events if greenhouse gas emissions are not controlled.
  • New Brunswick introduces fracking moratorium: now Canadians are getting as smart as New Yorkers! At least those of New Brunswick. But wait, there's more! According to the report,
    • Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have also passed moratoriums on fracking, though they vary in scope.

12/18/2014

  • The Lesson of Grace in Teaching
  • Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State: HUGE NEWS (Someone's finally figured out that this is a really stupid idea.)
    • On Wednesday, six weeks after Mr. Cuomo won a second term, the long-awaited health study finally materialized, its findings made public during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by the governor in Albany.
    • In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.
    • Holding up copies of scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking.
    • Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place?
    • His answer was no.
    • “We cannot afford to make a mistake,” he said. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.”….
    • “I am not a scientist,” {Cuomo} said. “I’m not an environmental expert. I’m not a health expert. I’m a lawyer. I’m not a doctor. I’m not an environmentalist. I’m not a scientist. So let’s bring the emotion down, and let’s ask the qualified experts what their opinion is.”
    • Nevertheless, environmental groups cast the governor as a hero. Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said, “This move puts significant pressure on other governors to take similar measures to protect people who live in their states.”
  • Six indicted in chemical spill that fouled West Virginia river
    • The Jan. 9 spill, in an area nicknamed “Chemical Valley,” was one of the worst environmental accidents in recent history in a state led by pro-industry officials opposed to many environmental regulations.
    • “They put an entire population needlessly at risk,” R. Booth Goodwin II, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of West Virginia, told reporters in Charleston while announcing charges contained in an indictment and a separate criminal information.
    • Four officials were charged in the indictment. Two others and Freedom Industries itself were named in the criminal information, which usually indicates that individuals charged are willing to cooperate with investigators. Goodwin said Freedom Industries, which filed for bankruptcy eight days after the spill, and its executives failed to inspect or maintain the steel storage tank that ruptured and did not implement a required spill prevention and control plan. He called the spill “completely preventable” and accused company executives of “flagrant disregard of the law.”
    • “It’s hard to overstate the disruption that results when 300,000 people suddenly lose clean water,” Goodwin said. “This is exactly the kind of scenario the Clean Water Act is intended to prevent.”
    • Freedom’s former chief executive, Gary Southern, 53, was also charged with bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud in an alleged scheme to protect his $8 million in assets and misrepresent his role with the company. He faces up to 68 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
  • Watch this guy explain the science behind climate deniers
    • A lot of people people still don’t believe in climate change. But WHY?! We’ve got facts, we’ve got figures, we’ve got freaking superstorms swamping major cities every couple of years. Why is it so difficult for people to get climate change through their thick skulls?!
    • To this question, Joe Hanson of It’s Okay to Be Smart offers up a handful of answers, beginning with those thick skulls. It turns out that we are stuck with Stone Age instincts, while trying to tackle the heady problems of the Machine Age. For instance, take our Paleolithic bias toward more immediate threats or our persistent optimism (“surely that saber cat won’t eat me!”). Plus, our reserves of abstract worry are probably a non-renewable resource — you can only hear “climate change” so many times before you start to tune it out, along with “federal deficit” and “you should really floss daily.”
    • But here’s another precept to keep in mind: “Know thine enemy,” especially if the enemy in question is your own brain. Watch the video for more.

12/17/2014

12/16/2014

12/15/2014

  • American drought: California’s crisis: A storm has hit California, but that’s not going to end the ‘worst drought in a generation’ that is turning much of the centre of the state into a dust bowl. Chris McGreal reports on the drought bringing one of the richest states in America to its knees
    • “We had sponge baths, like in the army. Doing that for a week or two isn’t bad but for months – it’s difficult. Well, it’s awful. The school found it harder and harder to function. When the kids would flush the toilet nothing would happen,” says Kemper. “If you can imagine going to an underdeveloped country, it was worse. No potable water. It was a humbling experience. You figure you’re here in California, which is a rich state in a developed country, but you turn on the water and it comes out in drips.”
    • At the beginning of the year, John Laird, the state’s secretary for natural resources, told the US Congress in a letter that “California is experiencing the worst water crisis in our modern history. We are in our third consecutive year of below-normal precipitation and this year’s snowpack – on which 25 million Californians depend as the source of their water supply – currently is only 10% of what it should be.
    • The drought has exacerbated a less visible but widespread issue: pollutants contaminating the underground water. Nitrates from fertilisers and septic tanks have been feeding into the groundwater for decades. A University of California study found that one in 10 people in the Central Valley are exposed to unsafe drinking water. But as water levels have fallen, the nitrates – which are dangerous to young children, nursing mothers and the elderly – have become more concentrated and the drinking water even less safe.
  • Where Grass Is Greener, a Push to Share Drought’s Burden (a related story from the New York Times)
  • [www.theaustralian.com.au/business/latest/chinas-coal-addiction-brings-scourge-of-black-lung/story-e6frg90f-1227156802445 China’s coal addiction brings scourge of black lung]: China’s diagnoses of pneumoconiosis have risen sevenfold from 2005 to 2013 to about 750,000, at an average pace of 35 per cent annually, according to official data. That is likely to be an underestimate. Watchdog groups say 90 per cent of China’s coal miners lack labour contracts and so don’t qualify for inclusion in official health surveys. That would indicate that black-lung sufferers number closer to six million, said Wang Keqin, founder of Love Save Pneumoconiosis. Hong Kong-based watchdog China Labour Bulletin agrees with the estimate.
  • Capturing Carbon as a Byproduct of Running a Fuel Cell:
    • Deep inside a tangle of pipes, tanks, heat exchangers and miniature electrochemical reaction chambers, a fuel cell has been silently turning out electricity around the clock for about five months using a process in which one stage gives off carbon dioxide and another stage absorbs it.
    • A fuel cell is a chemical reactor that combines natural gas and air, and makes electricity, without combustion. In some fuel cells, carbon dioxide is routinely produced in one stage and recaptured in another.
    • As it is piped between the stages, the gas is at 70 percent purity, and most of the other 30 percent is innocuous steam. So the engineers at the company that built the installation, FuelCell Energy, are pulling off a chemical bait-and-switch.
    • They chill the carbon and steam mixture to about 40 degrees below zero, which is considered easy in the chemical world, well within the range of commercial cooling systems. At that temperature, carbon dioxide gas turns into a liquid, which is easily drained off.
    • But the second stage in the fuel cell is still hungry for the carbon dioxide that has now been stolen. Where to get it? From the exhaust of a coal plant. Instead of feeding the fuel cell ordinary air, the engineers supply a flow of air laced with 13 percent carbon dioxide, about the level that would come from a typical coal-burning power plant.
    • “It exploits a real quirk of the fuel cell,” said Anthony J. Leo, vice president of applications and advanced technology development. “It’s a different way of thinking about the problem.”
    • The experiment also demonstrates, unexpectedly, that the fuel cell breaks up and destroys about 60 percent of the nitrogen oxides that are fed into it.
  • Oil pipelines are so last year, says Wall Street Journal
    • What a difference a year makes. At the end of 2013, Keystone XL looked like a done deal. KXL South (a.k.a. the Gulf Coast Pipeline) was already built and weeks away from being turned on.
    • Now, a year later, that renowned pinko/green publication known as the Wall Street Journal writes that the fight against Keystone XL has been so successful that it’s become the training model for at least 10 other anti-pipeline fights. Seriously. There’s a slideshow and everything.
    • Even if Keystone is built — which is not looking likely, what with the North Dakota permit that expired in July, the Senate voting against it, and the president sounding like he was kind of making fun of it on the Colbert Report — it will still have cost twice what TransCanada intended to pay. All of this activism has made building fossil fuel infrastructure in certain areas significantly more expensive.
  • National Grid joins 200 Other Companies to Support Carbon Emission Regulations by EPA: Hundreds of national companies are supporting stronger federal regulations regarding greenhouse gases. One of those is Syracuse power provider National Grid, which is looking for more action on climate change.
  • West Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled: NASA-UC Irvine: A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade. The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades. (paper)
  • Fossil fuel companies grow nervous as divestment movement grows stronger:
    • Though fossil fuel companies may wave their hands dismissively at the divestment movement, some nervous actions of late show more concern than they let on. Consider this curious incident here in Lima, as the United Nations climate talks entered their second week. Shell’s chief climate change advisor was slated to present a panel, cosponsored by Chevron, entitled, “Why Divest from Fossil Fuels When a Future with Low-Emission Fossil Energy Use Is Already a Reality?” Except … they didn’t. Late last week, the title was quietly changed to the more innocuous, “How Can We Reconcile Climate Targets with Energy Demand Growth?” It must have been done in a hurry because they forgot to change the web address for the event page.
    • As Shell’s misstep reveals, divestment has got the industry’s attention, and understandably so. The global movement calling on universities, religious institutions, cities, and states to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry is growing faster than any other in history, now spanning 697 campaigns worldwide. Stanford University, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 34 cities, and the World Council of Churches — representing over half a billion members — are among the 700 investors worth more than $50 billion who have already committed to going fossil-free. Norway is also considering divesting the country’s $840 billion sovereign wealth fund. Even the current negotiating text of the U.N. climate agreement includes a call for divestment.
    • There’s also the small matter of science. For a reasonable chance of avoiding the “severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts” of climate change, two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must never be burned. Indeed, with the U.N.’s current negotiating text going as far as to propose “full decarbonization by 2050,” ExxonMobil and Shell may cease to exist in their current forms in 35 years. Former BP boss Lord John Browne has warned that climate change poses an “existential threat” to the industry.
  • How the 'War on Coal' went global: Republicans are trying to prop up the industry, but the world is not cooperating.
    • Meanwhile, the World Bank is backing away from funding coal projects, hedge funds are eyeing major U.S. coal companies as high-risk investments, and the strong dollar is hampering the market for all kinds of exports. The oil train boom also burdens coal producers’ access to rail lines from Western mining hot spots like Wyoming and Montana.
    • The upshot: Coal exports, which more than doubled from 2007 to 2012, are expected to fall by nearly one-fifth this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says. In 2015, the number of tons exported could hit its lowest level in five years.
    • It’s sobering news for an industry already beset by EPA climate and pollution regulations that Republicans denounce as Obama’s “War on Coal” — their rallying cry on the way to big victories in the midterm elections. And it’s a far stretch from the export-driven boom that coal supporters like House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton were expecting as recently as a year ago.
  • First coal ash regulations in the offing:
    • The rules would be the first federal standards regulating coal ash, a byproduct from coal-burning power plants that contains substances like arsenic, mercury and chromium, frequently stored in ponds next to rivers or other waterways.
    • Lisa Jackson, then the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), promised the rules in March 2009, just over two months after a pond at a coal plant in Kingston, Tenn., spilled more than a billion gallons into the Emory River and nearby land.
  • Call for climate change to become human rights issue: The International Bar Association says climate change should become a human rights issue able to be challenged in a court of law. It says the judiciary is inadequate for those suffering injustice because of global warming. It will now attempt to draft a new model statute, or law, for people suffering the effects of climate change.

12/14/2014

  • Earth faces sixth ‘great extinction’ with 41% of amphibians set to go the way of the dodo: Analysis for prestigious Nature magazine sounds alarm on the way that human activity, from overfishing to agriculture, is forcing a vast number of species to vanish from the wild (Source -- Nature)
  • Rising sea levels could make Florida residents 'climate refugees': A lot of that property, particularly if it’s situated along one of the coveted stretches of Miami’s fabled beaches, could well be worthless and literally underwater in a few decades, says Harold Wanless, the chair of the department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami.
    • His word for the future of Miami and much south Florida? Doomed.
    • The “monster” in climate change, as Wanless sees it, is a warming ocean. Sea levels will rise because water expands as it gets warmer, and oceans are taking up vast amounts of heat produced by global warming.
    • Warmer water is also driving the accelerated melting of the vast ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.
    • Wanless says a two-metre rise in sea level by 2100 is likely, but says it’s also plausible it could be as much as five metres by the end of the century, and it will continue rising for centuries after that.
  • Great wall of trees keeps China's deserts at bay: CHINA is holding back the desert, for now. The Great Green Wall – a massive belt of trees being planted across China's arid north in what might be the largest ecological engineering project on the planet – seems to work, according to a new study.

12/13/2014

  • Poll: Half of Republicans back limits on carbon
    • Six in 10 Americans, including half of all Republicans, said they support regulation of carbon dioxide pollution, although they weren't asked how. Nearly half of Republicans said the U.S. should lead the global fight to curb climate change, even if it means taking action when other countries do not. And majorities across party lines said environmental protections "improve economic growth and provide new jobs" in the long run, a popular Obama administration talking point.
    • The picture of Republicans that emerges from the poll runs counter to the monolithic view of Republicans in Washington as a global warming-doubting, anti-environmental regulation party keen on attacking Obama's environmental plans. And the results come as the Obama administration continues to forge ahead on its own with aggressive plans on climate change, even if it means going head-to-head with a Republican-controlled Congress that could derail the administration's environmental legacy.

12/12/2014

  • Global Weirding: breaking down the IPCC report into a possible future.
  • From the Rachel Maddow show (about the Cromnibus bill, and sweetheart deals for various groups): One thing that's happened is "giving sacred Native American land — Apache leap — to a mining company" (and an Anglo-Australian one at that: Rio Tinto). So Rachel gave us some insight into Rio Tinto:
    • What does Rio Tinto do? "Our focus is on finding, mining and processing the Earth's mineral resources to maximize value for our shareholders." So nothing about caring for the Earth, sustainability, etc.? Does this corporate person have no soul? Heavens!
    • Rio Tinto also gave Iran a controlling interest in a uranium mine — what could go wrong?
  • Into the great wide open: Scientific studies of techniques for deliberately modifying the climate are getting ready to move out of the laboratory

12/11/2014

  • Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels
    • Catholics, they say, should engage with the process leading to a proposed new deal to be signed in Paris next year.
    • The statement is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have issued such a call.
    • Negotiators in Lima are currently trying to advance the outline text of an agreement at UN-led talks.
    • With 1.2bn people worldwide calling themselves Catholic, the church has considerable potential to influence public debate on any issue.
  • Water woes in Lima: A glimpse of our future? A sad story of glacial fed towns, doomed under climate projections.

12/10/2014

  • George Shultz Gone Solar. Now That's a Sign of Thawing in the U.S. Climate Debate: Two years ago, Shultz was alarmed when a retired Navy admiral showed him a video of vanishing Arctic sea ice and explained the implications for global stability. Now, the former Cold Warrior drives an electric car, sports solar panels on his California roof and argues for government action against global warming at clean-energy conferences.
  • Nike, IKEA join 221 companies in backing EPA’s climate rule: "As businesses concerned about the immediate and long-term implications of climate change, we strongly support the principles behind the draft Carbon Pollution Standard for existing power plants,” the letter, signed by Nestle, Levi Strauss & Co, and Starbucks, states.
  • India Ducks China Energy Pledge, Plans Renewables Splurge: (The title and following are hugely ironic, given its splurge on coal — enough to sink us all)
    • India, the world’s third-largest polluter, will spend at least $100 billion on climate-related projects but isn’t ready to follow China and the U.S., the top two emitters, in promising to limit its fossil-fuel emissions.
    • India has been under the spotlight at the United Nations climate meeting in Lima after China became the first large developing country to agree to limit emissions in a pact announced with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to that country last month. Obama will go to India in January.
    • Delegates in Lima are watching for signs India will follow China’s pledge with one of its own, potentially leading to action by other developing countries. India’s environment minister didn’t address emissions limits in his first public comments in Lima yesterday. Instead, Prakash Javadekar presented a plan to spend aggressively on cleaner forms of energy such as wind or solar, without saying when the $100 billion would flow or how it would be funded.

12/6/2014

  • Today I reflect on the notion that people can deny that industrial-scale pollution of a source like the atmosphere is somehow innocuous — that, while people wouldn't drink downstream from the herd, they don't seem to mind breathing upwind from a smoker. We've figured out that second-hand smoke kills, but can't seem to fathomed that the carbon and mercury and arsenic belching from all those coal-fired powerplants is a problem.
  • Drought-hit Sao Paulo may 'get water from mud': Sao Paulo has two months left, barring big rains.
  • House Republican Plans to Introduce Pro-Climate-Science Bill: This is really important: a Republican wants to take names! These folks need to realize that we're going to hold them accountable later, when their illusion-based schemes finally come to light. We can't let folks take a free-pass on this one. Either get on board, or be blamed later.
    • Chris Gibson wants the GOP to "operate in the realm of knowledge and science."
    • A Republican House member is battling the skepticism toward climate-change science that's common in GOP ranks. And he wants to put lawmakers on record in the process.
    • Rep. Chris Gibson said Thursday he plans to introduce a resolution on climate change that will help others "recognize the reality" of the situation. Gibson said the extreme weather he has witnessed in his own upstate New York district supports the science, and he wants to be a leader in spurring recognition of changing weather patterns.

12/5/2014

  • The Daily Show reminds us “pink fracking” against breast cancer is the most ridiculous thing ever
  • Church of England challenges BP and Shell over global warming: Planned shareholder resolution is a ‘vital opportunity to influence companies’ climate change strategy’, says investment chief
  • Research casts alarming light on decline of West Antarctic glaciers:
    • For two decades, scientists have kept a close watch on a vast, icebound corner of West Antarctica that is undergoing a historic thaw. Climate experts have predicted that, centuries from now, the region’s mile-thick ice sheet could collapse and raise sea levels as much as 11 feet.
    • Now, new evidence is causing concern that the collapse could happen faster than anyone thought. New scientific studies this week have shed light on the speed and the mechanics of West Antarctic melting, documenting an acceleration that, if it continues, could have major effects on coastal cities worldwide.
    • The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the effects of climate change are outpacing scientific predictions, driven in part, scientists say, by soaring levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
    • The researchers found that the ice sheet contributed about 4.5 millimeters, or 0.18 inches, to global sea-level rise from 1992 to 2013, with more than 70 percent of the loss occurring in the second half of that time period — meaning the rate of loss is accelerating.
    • “For long-term stability and small sea-level rise, accelerating mass loss is not reassuring,” said Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Richard Alley, commenting on the paper, which was published Tuesday in Geophysical Research Letters.
    • The findings from West Antarctica could call into question one principal finding from the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), considered to be the world authority on global warming. In 2013, the panel put its high-end projection for likely global sea-level rise, by the year 2100, at a little more than three feet.
    • But the researchers studying West Antarctica are not so sure. “The upper bound defined by the IPCC, they may underestimate some of the components, particularly the ice sheets,” said ­UC-Irvine’s Isabella Velicogna, an author of the paper estimating the rate of ice loss from West Antarctica’s glaciers.
    • So how fast could the loss of West Antarctica unfold? Velicogna’s co-author, Eric Rignot of UC-Irvine, suggested that in his view, within 100 to 200 years, one-third of West Antarctica could be gone.
    • Rignot noted that the scientific community “still balks at this” — particularly the 100-year projection — but said he thinks observational studies are showing that ice sheets can melt at a faster pace than model-based projections take into account.
  • California drought the worst in 1,200 years, new study says: Analyzing tree rings that date back to 800 A.D. — a time when Vikings were marauding Europe and the Chinese were inventing gunpowder — there is no three-year period when California's rainfall has been as low and its temperatures as hot as they have been from 2012 to 2014, the researchers found.
  • Inside Big Oil’s ‘Conspiracy’ to Kill West Coast Climate Laws:
    • What do Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy, Californians for Energy Independence and Save Our Jobs all have in common? They’re all astroturf organizations that were “activated” by one fossil fuel lobbying group to derail green initiatives in West Coast states. Bloomberg Businessweek, which is usually not prone to hyperbole, called it a “conspiracy.”
    • In all, there are 16 of these supposedly grassroots groups that are actually part of a coordinated and well-funded campaign to make sure Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada water down current environmental initiatives and hold off on implementing new ones. This revelation comes from a PowerPoint presentation put together by a major oil lobbying group, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), that was obtained by environmental activists and passed on to Businessweek and Northwest Public Radio. (WSPA says that those of us who think this is news are “gullible.”)
  • Planet Reboot: Fighting Climate Change With Geoengineering
    • Or, perhaps, a reimagining of what it means to be human. In a paper released in 2012, S. Matthew Liao, a philosopher and ethicist at New York University, and some colleagues proposed a series of human-engineering projects that could make our very existence less damaging to the Earth. Among the proposals were a patch you can put on your skin that would make you averse to the flavor of meat (cattle farms are a notorious producer of the greenhouse gas methane), genetic engineering in utero to make humans grow shorter (smaller people means fewer resources used), technological reengineering of our eyeballs to make us better at seeing at night (better night vision means lower energy consumption), and the extremely simple plan of educating more women (the higher a woman’s education the fewer children she is likely to have, and fewer children means less human impact on the globe).
    • Geoengineering, Liao argues, doesn’t address the root cause. Remaking the planet simply attempts to counteract the damage that’s been done, but it does nothing to stop the burden humans put on the planet. “Human engineering is more of an upstream solution,” says Liao. “You get right to the source. If we’re smaller on average, then we can have a smaller footprint on the planet. You’re looking at the source of the problem.”
    • It might be uncomfortable for humans to imagine intentionally getting smaller over generations or changing their physiology to become averse to meat, but why should seeding the sky with aerosols be any more acceptable? In the end, these are all actions we would enact only in worst-case scenarios. And when we’re facing the possible devastation of all mankind, perhaps a little humanity-wide night vision won’t seem so dramatic.
  • At Lima Climate Talks, 2-Degree Warming Limit Is a Thing of the Past
    • But amid the hope is a much darker reality: Years of stalled talks and baby steps toward action have all but ensured that we will pass the previous do-not-pass benchmark of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100. Now, The New York Times reports, the negotiators’ objective is to stave off atmospheric warming of 4 to 10 degrees Fareinheit, or roughly 2.2 to 5.6 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century, at which point, experts say, Earth may “become increasingly uninhabitable.”
    • “Four degrees of warming would be enough to melt all the ice…. You would have a tremendously chaotic situation as you moved away from our current climate towards another one. That’s a different planet. You wouldn’t recognise it…. We are on the verge of creating climate chaos if we don’t begin to reduce emissions rapidly.”
    • Steven Sherwood, a professor at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, and author of another study looking at the implications of four-degree warming, came to a similar conclusion. “4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,” Sherwood told The Guardian. “For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet.”
    • A method that has already been tested — ocean fertilization — provides a particularly thorny case study. The idea was to boost ocean uptake of carbon dioxide by pouring iron into the sea to stimulate the growth of algal blooms. When the algae die, the captured carbon sinks to the ocean floor, where it may remain locked away for centuries.
    • But the approach came under fire when eco-entrepreneurs smelled business opportunities. Plans by companies in the United States and Australia to fertilize large swathes of ocean to generate carbon credits that could be sold on greenhouse-gas-emissions markets were headed off by a 2008 amendment to the London Convention, an international treaty that governs ocean pollution.
    • Together with a resolution made under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity a few months earlier, the amendment made it difficult to conduct trials of ocean fertilization. In 2009, for example, an international research cruise was stopped en route to the Southern Ocean over fears that an iron-stimulated algal bloom the team had planned to encourage there might violate international law.
    • Meanwhile, another attempt, by an amateur scientist in 2012 off the coast of British Columbia, led to an international storm of protest and prompted heated discussions in the Canadian government over the legality of the experiment.
    • Such unresolved governance issues mean that little funding is available for further studies. "We're caught up in politics," says Ken Buesseler, an ocean scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "You'd absolutely like to avoid rogue experiments that don't generate proper science. But there is every reason to pursue real science in the field in an open and responsible way."
    • Meeting discussions are aimed at creating comprehensive guidelines for the safe conduct of field experiments.
    • Neither ocean fertilization nor any other single activity will solve the global warming problem, cautions Anya Waite of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, who represents the fields of oceanography and limnology at this week's meeting. "But limited ocean-fertilization experiments are telling us a lot about how biological processes in the ocean control climate. In terms of new regulations, they should be the first cab off the ranks."

12/4/2014

12/3/2014

  • Climate tinkerers thrash out a plan: Geoengineers meet to work out what research is acceptable.
    • On 1 December, the United Nations kicked off a summit in Lima that aims to forge a global deal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Now, representatives of dozens of scientific societies are gathering in Washington DC to thrash out a set of principles for researching highly controversial technologies known as geoengineering. The methods offer ways to cool the planet should political approaches fail.
    • “There are a number of risks and unknowns,” says Paul Bertsch, deputy director of the Land and Water Flagship at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Brisbane, Australia, and past chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, which is convening the geoengineering meeting. “So we urgently need to develop and implement a coordinated research plan that begins to address these in a deliberate way.”
    • Some ideas, such as injecting carbon dioxide into rocks or the depths of the ocean, are already being tested. Others are more futuristic: spraying sea water into the air to brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight back into space; adding sulphate particles to the upper atmosphere to mimic the natural cooling effect of volcanic ash; and even placing giant mirrors into orbit to reflect sunlight before it reaches Earth.
    • Not one, however, has garnered much enthusiasm in environmental or political spheres. The idea of tinkering with the planet smacks of scientific hubris, and many are worried about unintended consequences. Climate scientists are concerned, for example, that adding sulphate to the stratosphere might reduce rainfall in some regions and worsen ozone depletion.
    • On 2–3 December, leaders of societies representing some 1.4 million scientists, engineers and educators will work out what research is and is not acceptable given the possible social, ecological and economic effects of climate engineering. A conference held in 2010 in Asilomar, California, failed to produce clear guidelines (see Nature 464, 656; 2010).
    • Most scientists say that it is too early to consider large-scale trials, especially for solar-radiation management, because the techniques have not yet been adequately tested in controlled settings. However, many maintain that geoengineering should not be ruled out as a last resort to prevent the worst effects of global warming.
    • “The question is when, if at all, should we start doing outdoor experiments?” says Matthew Watson, a volcanologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who is overseeing a project to determine how the deliberate spreading of sun-blocking particles might alter atmospheric chemistry (see ‘UK experiments’). “I don’t particularly ‘like’ geoengineering, but I’m afraid we do need to think about controlled field trials.”
  • Look ahead: Research into climate engineering must proceed — even if it turns out to be unnecessary. (In response to our meeting)

12/1/2014

  • Optimism Faces Grave Realities at Climate Talks This front page story contained the following incredible paragraph:
    • Even with a deal to stop the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists warn, the world will become increasingly unpleasant. Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.
    • I noticed that paragraph when I read the Times that day, and was myself shocked. "So what's going on in sports?" What kind of alternative universe am I living in? I'm used to thinking that paragraph, but to see it laid out for all to see in one of the nation's great newspapers, with no accompanying editorial saying "Really?" I've been talking it up to folks, and my shock, but I found it on-line under the headline "hyperbole". The author of that blog believes that it's hyperbole, but I'm not so sure….

November, 2014

11/28/2014

  • Extreme Weather? Blame the End Times: Half of Americans (and 77 percent of evangelicals) believe natural disasters are signs not of climate change but of the ‘End Times.’ How religious beliefs are fueling climate denial.
  • Canadians want action on reducing greenhouse gasses, poll shows: A new poll by Environics Institute shows 88 per cent of Canadians say Canada needs to commit to “significant new actions” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.<p>The poll also showed a growing number of Canadians — 63 per cent — agree with scientists that climate change is man-made.<p>One surprising result in the survey was that Canadians are unaware of criticism against Canada globally as a climate laggard.
  • Animal Extinctions From Climate Rival End of Dinosaurs: Animals are dying off in the wild at a pace as great as the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago because of human activity and climate change.<p>Current extinction rates are at least 12 times faster than normal because people kill them for food, money or destroy their habitat, said Anthony Barnosky, a biology professor at the University of California-Berkeley.<p>“If that rate continues unchanged, the Earth’s sixth mass extinction is a certainty,” Barnosky said in a phone interview. “Within about 200 to 300 years, three out of every four species we’re familiar with would be gone.”
  • Americans would rather adapt to extreme weather than curb climate change<p>Scientists, policymakers, and activists been holding out hope that an increase in extreme weather events might prompt Americans to embrace policies that curb greenhouse-gas emissions. They may be waiting a long time, a new study suggests.
  • Scientists take step toward revolutionary coolant ... using outer space?: Stanford researchers have made strides toward developing a new cooling system that draws excess heat out of earthly structures and radiates it into outer space.
  • Water War Amid Brazil Drought Leads to Fight Over Puddles: Brazil’s Jaguari reservoir has fallen to its lowest level ever, laying bare measurement posts that jut from exposed earth like a line of dominoes. The nation’s two biggest cities are fighting for what little water is left.
  • Fracking risk compared to thalidomide and asbestos in Walport report: Historic innovations that have been adopted too hastily with grave unforeseen impacts provide cautionary examples for potential side effects of fracking, says report by government’s chief scientist Mark Walport

11/25/2014

  • Leaked: The Oil Lobby's Conspiracy to Kill off California's Climate Law:A Powerpoint (MSFT) deck now being circulated by climate activists—a copy of which was sent to Bloomberg Businessweek—suggests that there is a conspiracy. Or, if you prefer, a highly coordinated, multistate coalition that does not want California to succeed at moving off fossil fuels because that might set a nasty precedent for everyone else.
  • Green Revolution trebles human burden on planet: Researchers in the US believe they now know why global warming has begun to announce itself both in annual rises in temperature and in the seasonal records of carbon dioxide in the northern hemisphere − the same seasonal variation in atmospheric chemistry that also contains within it the signature of the Green Revolution and the 20th-century population explosion.<p>And it’s all because the natural swing from high carbon dioxide levels to low each year has become more dramatic in the last 50 years.
  • Crops help to drive greater seasonal change in CO2 cycle: Boosts in the productivity of corn and three other food staples have significantly modified the annual cycle of atmospheric CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere<p>BOSTON - November 19, 2014 - Each year in the Northern Hemisphere, levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) drop in the summer as plants inhale, and then climb again as they exhale and decompose after their growing season. Over the past 50 years, the size of this seasonal swing has increased by as much as half, for reasons that aren't fully understood. Now a team of researchers led by Boston University scientists has shown that agricultural production may generate up to a quarter of the increase in this seasonal carbon cycle, with corn playing a leading role.
  • Record Drought Reveals Stunning Changes Along Colorado River: Lake Powell is at historic lows, offering kayakers new channels to explore but raising the alarm about water.<p>As central California (beyond the reach of Colorado River water) has already been hamstrung by an even more exceptional drought, many farms and dairy operations have shut down, rationing has begun, homeowners are being fined for watering their lawns, and the state has begun relying on finite groundwater supplies. And as extensive farm networks are served by the Colorado River, it is likely that nationwide produce prices will soon begin to rise.<p>What's next? As Lakes Powell and Mead continue to plummet, officials are now predicting rationing by 2017 for the junior Colorado River water-rights holders of Nevada and Arizona.
  • The Politics of Climate Hacking: What happens if one country decides to start geoengineering on its own?
  • How climate change is like street harassment: Talks about millions of minor torturers: "Imagine a room in which 1,000 victims lie strapped to tables. Next to each table is a device that delivers electric current, operated by a torturer. All the torturers have cranked their machines up to 1,000 volts, leaving their victims in excruciating pain. These torturers are obviously doing something morally wrong, yes?<p>"Now imagine the same room: 1,000 victims strapped to tables, only this time the tables are all connected by long wires to a single device. One by one, 1,000 torturers file by. Each one increases the device’s output by a single volt. A single-volt boost causes no discernible change in pain among the victims, yet by the end of the process, the victims are in the same agony. Each of these torturers committed an act that, taken in isolation, caused no harm, or at least indiscernibly small harm. They are, in Parfit’s term, “harmless torturers.” Yet the cumulative effect was the same. Has a harmless torturer done something morally wrong? Is she culpable like the torturers in the first example?"
    • How might we think about climate change in this light? It’s true that focusing on individual culpability is a limited instrument when it comes to something like climate, which so crucially involves large-scale collective action and responsibility, but it can help illuminate the extraordinary denial and resistance that has met scientists’ increasingly frantic warnings.
    • Climate change is Parfit’s thought experiment taken to its logical extreme. Virtually every workaday activity of citizens of industrialized nations — driving to work, turning on the heat in winter, watching cat videos on the internet — cranks the climate torture device by another volt or two. We are collectively ensuring the suffering of millions of distant victims. We are all harmless climate torturers.
  • Climate change is just another sign of the end times, according to half of America
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11/24/2014

  • 670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal: Smog killed 670,000 people in 2012, says mainland study on pollution. "Damage to the environment and health added up to 260 yuan (HK$330) for each tonne produced and used in 2012, said Teng Fei , an associate professor at Tsinghua University. The 260 yuan is made up of two parts: the health cost and the environmental damage caused by mining and transporting coal." (I just checked and the HK$ is worth .13US$ at the moment — so it's about $43/tonne)
  • Are your urban veggies really toxic?
  • Walmart is a huge consumer of dirty coal energy
  • The biggest loser in this election is the climate
  • World Bank to ditch coal for clean energy: The World Bank will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need” because climate change will undermine efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, says its President Jim Yong Kim.<p>Talking ahead of a U.N. climate summit in Peru next month, Kim said he was alarmed by World Bank-commissioned research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, which said that as a result of past greenhouse gas emissions the world is condemned to unprecedented weather events.</p><p>“The findings are alarming. As the planet warms further, heat waves and other weather extremes, which today we call once­-in­-a-century events, would become the new climate normal, a frightening world of increased risk and instability. The consequences for development would be severe, as crop yields decline, water resources shift, communicable diseases move into new geographical ranges, and sea levels rise,” he said.</p>
  • Climate change could shift buckeyes’ habitat to Michigan: unassisted migration!

11/23/2014

  • Pipeline Alert From Federal Regulator Is First of Its Kind Reversing oil and gas pipelines or changing the product they're carrying can have a 'significant impact' on the line's safety and integrity.
  • US poll finds most back limits on coal emissions even if power prices rise (also finds widespread ignorance about climate change in the US).
  • Winter weather weirdness may be just beginning (Buffalo, after the storm that buried Buffalo with 7-8 feet in mid-November). "Create one super typhoon near Asia. Use super typhoon’s remnants to push the jet stream out of whack so it sends arctic air down across most of the United States – and directly across the relatively warm waters of Lake Erie.<p>Results: Lake-effect snow totals of between 3 and 7½ feet south of Buffalo.<p>“The general notion is that, as the climate warms and the lakes hold their warmth longer into the fall, you’re going to see a lot more lake-effect snow until it’s too warm to have much snow,” said Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of the 2012 book “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows.”
  • Chevrolet joins grasslands effort: Chevrolet has become the first corporate participant in a public-private initiative that pays farmers not to convert natural prairie to large-scale crop production, which would release gases that are warming the planet, officials said. <p>The automaker, a division of General Motors, said it has bought more than 39,000 metric tons of carbon credits from North Dakota ranchers in the prairie pothole region, a broad expanse of grasslands and wetlands reaching across the northern Great Plains and parts of Canada. <p>“The amount of carbon dioxide removed from our atmosphere by Chevrolet's purchase of carbon credits equals the amount that would be reduced by taking 5,000 cars off the road,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
  • Politics eclipses climate extremes for climate change perceptions: Whether or not actual shifts in climate influence public perceptions of climate change remains an open question, one with important implications for societal response to climate change. We use the most comprehensive public opinion survey data on climate change available for the US to examine effects of annual and seasonal climate variation. Our results show that political orientation has the most important effect in shaping public perceptions about the timing and seriousness of climate change. Objective climatic conditions do not influence Americans’ perceptions of the timing of climate change and only have a negligible effect on perceptions about the seriousness of climate change. These results suggest that further changes in climatic conditions are unlikely to produce noticeable shifts in Americans’ climate change perceptions.
  • David Titley talk warns of climate change conflicts: "(Titley)'s a retired Navy rear admiral who now teaches at Penn State's Department of Meteorology. Drawing on his military career, he has argued for years that climate change is not just a risk to animals and ecosystems, but to international security."<p>'(Titley) paraphrased another line, this one from Winston Churchill: "Americans will always do the right thing, after exhausting all the alternatives."<p>Titley added, "We're getting pretty close to exhaustion."
  • ADAPTATION: The little Dutch boy has gone, but his spirit lives on in climate change strategies (like "water houses", that will float when flooded)
  • Amazon and Google Change Places on Going Green: Google recently explained its pullback on sustainability while Amazon has just announced a "long-term commitment" to achieve 100 percent renewable energy use.<p>Google rethinks sustainability<p>"At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today's renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change," Koningstein and Fork wrote. "We now know that to be a false hope — but that doesn't mean the planet is doomed."

11/22/2014

  • US Can Slash Its Fossil Fuel Emissions By 85 Percent By 2050, New Climate Change Study Shows
  • Another recent study from the Breakthrough Institute has found similar problems with the development of energy efficiency — namely, that increasing energy efficiency of technologies like light bulbs or other things has never led to the net reduction of power use in the past as it tends to only result in the proliferation of energy and resulting development (ClimateWire, Oct. 9). (source)
  • Toyota hopes to recreate Prius success with hydrogen-powered Mirai
  • Geoengineering: the ethical problems with cleaning the air: "Reflecting sunlight back into space is not a replacement for reducing our emissions – it might be something we could do on top of reducing our emissions and adapting to changes. When we are talking about taking CO2 out of the atmosphere it is a lot cheaper not to put it there in the first place."
  • How Generations have Changed (2012): "The age differences in political attitudes and voting choices in the past three election cycles have been driven by three broad social and political trends. The first is the growing racial and ethnic diversity of the country, reflected in the rising percentage of non-whites among younger age cohorts. Non-whites have been far more supportive of the Democratic Party in the last several decades. Among members of the Silent generation today, 79% are non-Hispanic whites; among the Millennial generation, just 59% are non-Hispanic whites."

9/2/2014


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