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Topic: EnvironmentThe new items published under this topic are as follows.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Canada says it may take EU to WTO for labeling tar sands oil "highly polluting" & Prince Charles attacks global warming sceptics
Canada sits on the world's third largest oil reserves. Canada, which is anxious to find new markets for its oil and gas outside the United States, argues that Europe should embrace it as a stable, reliable energy producer.Posted at: Thursday, May 09, 2013 - 01:51 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Tankers, tar sands, and a coastal economy
Rex Weyler TankerFreeBC British Columbia Canada May 4, 2013
Canada once had a vibrant manufacturing sector, growing economy, and about 20 oil tankers per year passing through Burrard Inlet in BC, mostly delivering refined products to coastal communities. Today, Canada has a declining manufacturing sector, growing unemployment, and over 70 crude oil tankers per year transiting Burrard Inlet. What happened?
The tar sands happened. Canada took the lure of globalization and raw resource export. Over a decade ago, the world’s largest oil companies decided to exploit the black bitumen tar buried under Alberta’s boreal forest, and to ship it from Canada with minimal local economic benefit.
Since then, the number of oil tankers has tripled and meanwhile, BC lost three of its four oil refineries. If American billionaire Richard Kinder, gets his way, oil tanker traffic will increase to some 400 tankers per year through Burrard Inlet, more than one per day, shipping crude oil to refineries in the US and China.
Canadian citizens are asking: What does this do for our economy and our ecological integrity?
Consider the ecological impact: The 700,000-barrel Aframax tankers now traversing Vancouver harbour and Georgia Strait carry the world’s dirtiest, most toxic, most carbon-intensive crude oil, heavy bitumen tar diluted with petroleum condensate. The diluted bitumen or “dilbit,” travels from the Alberta tar sands, through the Trans-Mountain pipeline, to Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby.
To mine the tar sands, oil companies first remove the boreal forest “overburden.” Some 150,000 square-kilometers of forest are already gone. Each day, the tar sands miners draw over 300 million gallons of water from the Athabasca River and aquifers, and boil the water to blast bitumen from the sand. They return about 10 percent to the river. The rest is toxic sludge.
They send the black sludge waste into “tailings” lakes that cover more surface area than the combined cities of Vancouver Richmond, and Burnaby. In the last decade, the tar sands have produced over 8 billion tons of toxic waste. In 2008, 1,600 migrating ducks landed in the sludge pits, suffocated, and drowned. The oil companies want to quadruple this production and impact.
Tar sands bitumen is considered dirty because it is carbon-intensive to produce and toxic in the environment. Tar sands mining burns about a third of the energy it produces, seven-times the energy and carbon cost of a conventional oil well. The heavy bitumen is then diluted so it will flow through pipes.
The pipelines invariably rupture and spill. In the US, between 2010 and 2013, an average of 1.6 pipeline spills occurred every day. Dilbit contains sulphur, asphaltics, and benzenes, a thick toxic tar that sinks in water and suffocates and poisons bottom-dwelling plants and animals. The lighter polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (“PAHs”) dissolve in the water and kill off the micro organisms at the foundation of the food chain. The dilutants – solvents such as condensate or naphtha – separate in the marine environment; volatile gases rise into the air, causing headaches nausea, lung disease and cancer. ...
Canada says it may take EU to WTO over oil sands dispute
Robin Emmott Thomson Reuters Canada/UK May 8, 2013
BRUSSELS, May 8 (Reuters) - Canada threatened on Wednesday to take the European Union to the World Trade Organisation over its plans to label Canadian oil sands as dirty, but promised not to delay a bilateral trade pact.
The issue has overshadowed relations as Canada and the EU try to deepen economic ties through a trade deal that could generate $28 billion a year in new business and commerce.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, on a week-long lobbying trip to Europe, accused the EU of breaking international trade rules and discriminating against Canadian exports.
"We are going to take whatever action we need to, and we may well go to the WTO," Oliver told a news conference. "We will defend our interests vigorously."
The WTO has the power to order the EU to change its rules if they are found to be unfair, but the process is lengthy.
Canada's oil sands are the world's third largest crude reserves, but most are in the form of tar sands. Extraction from the clay-like deposits takes more energy than pumping conventional oil and results in higher carbon emissions.
The European Commission has proposed labelling oil from tar sands as "highly polluting" to help implement an EU goal to cut the carbon intensity of its transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020.
The Commission denies that it is singling out Canadian oil as its proposal also defines other unconventional sources of oil as carbon-intensive.
Asked whether the trade deal could be signed even if the EU goes ahead with its fuel labelling, Oliver said: "Yes ... These issues are entirely separate."
He said Canada did not intend to use the issue as a bargaining chip. ...
Twelve climate scientists and energy experts said in a letter to Oliver this week that Canadian policy was delaying the transition to an economy that was less reliant on carbon.
"We are at a critical moment," the group, among them academics from Harvard in the United States, and from British Columbia and Queen's universities in Canada, wrote in the letter, seen by Reuters. "The responsibility for preventing dangerous climate change rests with today's policymakers."
A report on Wednesday indicated the European Commission's tar sands proposal would shift investment towards lower-carbon oil sources and could save up to 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year - equivalent to removing 7 million cars from Europe's roads.
Related: Prince Charles attacks global warming sceptics
Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent guardian.co.uk UK May 9, 2013
Prince Charles: 'We can’t wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying.' Photo: Steve Parsons/PA. Visit this page for its embedded links.
The Prince of Wales has criticised "corporate lobbyists" and climate change sceptics for turning the earth into a "dying patient", in his most outspoken attack yet on the world's failure to tackle global warming, made shortly before he is to take over from the Queen at the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth.
His intervention was reinforced by Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the 2006 report on the economics of climate change, who called sceptics and lobbyists "forces of darkness" who would be "driven back".
Prince Charles attacked businesses who failed to care for the environment, and compared the current generation to a doctor taking care of a critically ill patient.
"If you think about the impact of climate change, [it should be how] a doctor would deal with the problem," he told an audience of government ministers, from the UK and abroad, as well as businesspeople and scientists. "A scientific hypothesis is tested to absolute destruction, but medicine can't wait. If a doctor sees a child with a fever, he can't wait for [endless] tests. He has to act on what is there."
He added: "The risk of delay is so enormous that we can't wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying."
His words were swiftly leapt on by climate sceptics. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, led by Lord Lawson, which opposes what it terms costly policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said the heir to the throne was "out of touch with half the UK population".
Hosting a two-day conference for forest scientists at St James's Palace in London, Prince Charles – who is taking over from the Queen at this year's meeting of the Commonwealth in Sri Lanka – savagely satirised those who stand in the way of swift action on the climate.
He characterised them as "the confirmed sceptics" and "the international association of corporate lobbyists". Faced with these forces of opposition, "science finds itself up the proverbial double blind gum tree", he said. ...
Prince Charles is no stranger to controversy, having spoken out on issues from organic farming and alternative medicine to architecture. But his words – warmly welcomed by the conference – were his strongest yet on climate change, an issue he has taken a deep interest in. He founded his working group on forests, whose conference he was addressing on Wednesday, in 2007, and also lends his name to a group of businesses, the Corporate Leaders' Group, which supports corporate action on cutting greenhouse emissions. He has also written to government ministers on the subject of climate change. ...
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The honeybees are simply dying. Meanwhile, human regulators dither
If any kind of critter were ever to meet the late Dr. Paul Ehrlich's definition of a "lynchpin species" -- something that plays a key role in keeping the machinery of ecosystems from collapse, something we could not go on without -- the honeybee, with its key pollination function, would be it.Posted at: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - 07:55 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
“Even if CCD [colony collapse disorder] went away, we’d still have tremendous losses,” said entomologist Diana Cox-Foster at Pennsylvania State University. “CCD losses are like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The system has many other issues.” ... The honeybee catastrophe could also signal problems in other pollinator species, such as bumblebees and butterflies, that are not often studied. “Thinking of honeybees as our canary in the coal mine, a monitor for environmental conditions, is very appropriate,” Cox-Foster said. “With honeybee colonies, you have the ability to open them up and see what’s going on. There are many other species needed for pollination, but with most of those, we don’t have the ability to see what’s happening.” - Brandon Keim reporting
One-third of U.S. honeybee colonies died last winter, threatening food supply
Brandon Keim Wired USA May 8, 2013
Photo: Jennifer C./Flickr. Visit this page for its embedded and related links.
Nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared last winter, an unsustainable decline that threatens the nation’s food supply.
Multiple factors — pesticides, fungicides, parasites, viruses and malnutrition — are believed to cause the losses, which were officially announced today by a consortium of academic researchers, beekeepers and Department of Agriculture scientists.
“We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands,” said entomologist Dennis vanEngelstorp of the University of Maryland, who led the survey documenting the declines.
Beekeepers lost 31 percent of their colonies in late 2012 and early 2013, roughly double what’s considered acceptable attrition through natural causes. The losses are in keeping with rates documented since 2006, when beekeeper concerns prompted the first nationwide survey of honeybee health. Hopes raised by drop in rates of loss to 22 percent in 2011-2012 were wiped out by the new numbers.
The honeybee shortage nearly came to a head in March in California, when there were barely enough bees to pollinate the almond crop.
Had the weather not been ideal, the almonds would have gone unpollinated — a taste, as it were, of a future in which honeybee problems are not solved. ...
Krupke noted that although neonicotinoids are the most common poisonous chemicals in honeybee environments, they’re far from the only chemicals. Cox-Foster and vanEngelstorp stressed that point, referencing research that found 121 different pesticides in honeybee hives. On average, each hive contained traces of 6 pesticides, and sometimes several dozen.
Research on pesticide interactions is in its infancy, but combinations may be extremely harmful to bees, amplifying what the chemicals would do alone. “I worry that the neonicotinoid attention is distracting from the other pesticides that have clear effects, and might even have stronger effects. Things like fungicides are completely unregulated for bees,” said vanEngelstorp. “I think we need to keep the pesticide investigation broader.”
Another, less-appreciated aspect of honeybee life also gained attention in the winter survey and new USDA report: what they eat. Though commercial bees are trucked on pollination circuits around the United States, most beekeepers have home bases in the upper Midwest, an area that’s undergone significant changes in recent years.
Rising food prices led farmers to plant crops in fields previously considered marginal or set aside as grasslands. Honeybees forage in those grasslands, and can’t get the nutrition they need from flowering crops alone.
Add the record-setting drought of summer 2012, and bees were hard-pressed for nourishment. Malnourishment could in turn make bees more vulnerable to pests and infections, or exacerbate the effects of pesticides. ...
Related: Theater of the Absurd: Selected short sketches re our environmental stewardship
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada May 2, 2013
Seven links. We introduced them thus:
Theater of the Absurd is form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development. Within works in the genre, all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.
Below: If any kind of critter were ever to meet the late Dr. Paul Ehrlich's definition of a "lynchpin species" -- something that plays a key role in keeping the machinery of ecosystems from collapse, something we could not go on without -- the honeybee, with its key pollination function, would be it.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Theater of the Absurd: Selected short sketches re our environmental stewardship
Theater of the Absurd is form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development. Within works in the genre, all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.Posted at: Thursday, May 02, 2013 - 07:41 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Below: If any kind of critter were ever to meet the late Dr. Paul Ehrlich's definition of a "lynchpin species" -- something that plays a key role in keeping the machinery of ecosystems from collapse, something we could not go on without -- the honeybee, with its key pollination function, would be it.
'We speak for the bees': Marchers urge EU-wide ban of killer pesticides
Jon Queally Common Dreams USA April 26, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
They came to speak for the bees.
Ahead of an expected EU vote on Monday that will determine a possible ban on a class of pesticides that scientists say are killing off the continents' bees and other pollinators, a coalition of beekeepers, conservationists, gardeners, and environmental activists marched on Parliament in London on Friday as a way to urge the UK to join other European nations in supporting the ban.
Yellow and black dominated the scene as many in attendance dressed as bees, wore their apiary suits and carried signs that read "Like Food? Love Bees" and "No to Neonic," referring to pesticide class called neonicotinoids that a number of recent studies have tied directly to the decline of bee populations.
The organizers of the so-called "March of the Beekeepers" included Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, Soil Association and the group 38 Degrees.
"Ministers can't ignore the growing scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline," said Friends of the Earth's campaigns director Andrew Pendleton. "Their claims to be concerned about bee health will ring hollow if they fail to back European moves to restrict the use of these chemicals."
He continued: "If we lose our bees and other vital pollinators it'll have a devastating impact on our food, gardens and environment. We urgently need tougher pesticide restrictions and a British Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats they face." ...
USDA and EPA release new report on honey bee health
USDA media release Newsroom Magazine USA Edition USA May 2, 2013
WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013-The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
“There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our country’s long term agricultural productivity,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “The forces impacting honeybee health are complex and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge.”
“The decline in honey bee health is a complex problem caused by a combination of stressors, and at EPA we are committed to continuing our work with USDA, researchers, beekeepers, growers and the public to address this challenge,” said Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “The report we’ve released today is the product of unprecedented collaboration, and our work in concert must continue. As the report makes clear, we’ve made significant progress, but there is still much work to be done to protect the honey bee population.” ...
The parasitic Varroa mite is recognized as the major factor underlying colony loss in the U.S. and other countries. ...
Editor note: The Varroa mite resistance to pesticides is the principal cause of U.S. honeybee colony loss according to the USDA release. "There is widespread resistance to the chemicals beekeepers use to control mites within the hive. New virus species have been found in the U.S. and several of these have been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)." Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is weighing approval of a new pesticide, sulfoxaflor, which the EPA itself admits is “very highly toxic” to honeybees. The EPA previously approved sulfoxaflor, brought to us by Dow Chemical Co., for use on cotton. The agency is now poised to approve the pesticide for wider use.
Colony collapse disorder report blames combination of problems for U.S. honeybee deaths
Seth Borenstein Huffington Post USA/Canada May 2, 2013
This item links to the full report (72-page PDF.
WASHINGTON -- A new federal report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of U.S. honeybees since 2006.
The intertwined factors cited include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides.
The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what's called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation's bees to just disappear each winter since 2006.
Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops.
The federal report, issued Thursday by the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, said the biggest culprit is the parasitic mite varroa destructor, calling it "the single most detrimental pest of honeybees."
The problem has also hit bee colonies in Europe, where regulators are considering a ban on a type of pesticides known as neonicotinoids that some environmental groups blame for the bee collapse. The U.S. report cites pesticides, but near the bottom of the list of factors. And federal officials and researchers advising them said the science doesn't justify a ban of the pesticides yet.
May Berenbaum, a top bee researcher from the University of Illinois, said in an interview that she was "extremely dubious" that banning the pesticide would have any effect on bee health. She participated in a large conference of scientists that the government brought together last year to figure out what's going on, and the new report is the result of that conference.
Berenbaum said more than 100 different chemicals – not just the pesticides that may be banned in Europe – have been found in bee colonies. Scientists find it hard to calculate how they react in different dosages and at different combinations, she said.
Some of these chemicals harm the immune systems of bees or amplify viruses, said Penn State University bee expert Diana Cox-Foster. ...
USDA bee researcher Jeff Pettis also cited modern farming practices that often leave little forage area for bees.
Dave Gaulson of the University of Stirling in Scotland, who conducted a study last year that implicated the chemical, said he can't disagree with the overall conclusions of the U.S. government report. However, he said it could have emphasized pesticides more.
The environmental group, Pesticide Action Network North America blasted the federal government for not following Europe's lead in looking at a ban of certain pesticides.
Pollinators, like honeybees, are crucial to the U.S. food supply. About $30 billion a year in agriculture depends on their health, said Ramaswamy.
Besides making honey, honeybees pollinate more than 90 flowering crops. Among them are a variety of fruits and vegetables: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruit and cranberries. About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination.
"It affects virtually every American whether they realize it or not," said EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe.
Zac Browning, a fourth-generation commercial beekeeper who has hives in Idaho, North Dakota and California, said the nation is "on the brink" of not having enough bees to pollinate its crops. ...
Below: The Institute for Science and Society is a multidisciplinary centre drawing on a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines to conduct research into cutting edge aspects of the mutual relationship between science and society. The Institute is now physically part of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham, but works virtually across the University under the University's Priority Group scheme as the Science and Technology Studies Priority Group. The "all animals" refered to in the following report includes humans.
New GM nightmares with RNA
Dr Mae-Wan Ho Institute of Science in Society UK April 29, 2013
Small double-stranded RNA (dsRNAs) that aim to interfere with specific gene expression are increasingly used to create GM crops; unfortunately they have many off-target effects and can also interfere with gene expression in all animals exposed to the crops.
In Canada, the Harper government's gagging of scientists and gutting of environmental protection programs is recognized. Below a polemic regarding the Obama administration in the USA.
How did Barack Obama become Monsanto's man in Washington?
Jon Rappoport Natural News USA April 30, 2013
And when are anti-GMO activist groups going to stop saying they're "shocked and disappointed" by the president?
Shocked and disappointed is polite-speak and politically correct reaction. It's baloney.
Don't you get it? Obama has never been on your side. He never deserved your trust.
Disappointment implies he was your buddy and then unaccountably walked away.
The man is a politician. He's a liar. Different pols have different styles of lying. Some pretend they're your friend before they screw you over and leave you in the dust.
I've previously published Obama's track record as Monsanto's number-one political supporter in America.
Meet Monsanto's prime lobbyist, Barack Obama:
After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA:
At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center.
As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.
As commissioner of the USDA, Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack. Vilsack had set up a national group, the Governors' Biotechnology Partnership, and had been given a Governor of the Year Award by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto.
As the new Agriculture Trade Representative, who would push GMOs for export, Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist.
As the new counsel for the USDA, Ramona Romero, who had been corporate counsel for another biotech giant, DuPont.
As the new head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah, who had previously worked in key positions for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of GMO agriculture research.
We should also remember that Obama's secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, once worked for the Rose law firm. That firm was counsel to Monsanto.
Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Kagan, as federal solicitor general, had previously argued for Monsanto in the Monsanto v. Geertson seed case before the Supreme Court.
The deck was stacked. Obama hadn't simply made honest mistakes. Obama hadn't just failed to exercise proper oversight in selecting appointees. He was staking out territory on behalf of Monsanto and other GMO corporate giants.
And now let us look at what key Obama appointees have wrought for their true bosses. Let's see what GMO crops have walked through the open door of the Obama presidency.
Below: Guess what governments do in the face of massive disruptions and unrest? They get bigger and more authoritarian!
What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like?
David Roberts Grist USA May 2, 2013
Emphases in the original. Visit this page for its embedded links.
The United States and 140 other countries have signed or otherwise associated with the Copenhagen Accord, in which it is agreed that the nations of the world should “hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.” For there to be a chance — even just a 50/50 chance — of limiting temperature rise to 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 (earlier for the developed world) and fall by 9 or 10 percent a year every year thereafter.
Nothing like that has ever been done. Not even close. No major energy transition has ever moved that quickly. Carbon emissions have never fallen that fast, not even during the economic collapse brought on by the demise of the USSR. Getting to change of that scale and speed is not a matter of nudging along a natural economic shift, as clean energy cost curves come down and fossil fuels get more expensive. That scale and speed seem to demand something like wartime mobilization.
That metaphor gets used a lot. I’ve used it many times myself. But is it apt? And what would it mean to take it seriously? There’s been lots of academic attention to the technology side of rapid, large-scale mitigation, but little attention to the governance side. How could a country engineer such a transition? What powers and institutions would be necessary?
An interesting pair of papers from Laurence L. Delina and his colleague Mark Diesendorf at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales helps to frame the discussion. “Is wartime mobilisation a suitable policy model for rapid national climate mitigation?” will be published in Energy Policy, and “Governing Rapid Climate Mitigation” [PDF] was delivered at the Earth System Governance Conference this year in Tokyo.
The papers, which are focused mostly on the U.S. but meant to draw lessons applicable to other countries as well, “commence the process of developing contingency plans for a scenario in which a sudden major global climate impact galvanises governments to implement emergency climate mitigation targets and programs.”
Let’s pause right here for a second. This entire project is premised on the notion that harsh climate impacts will eventually spur the public to demand emergency action from governments. That is, to put it mildly, a debatable premise. I’ve always thought people put way too much faith in it. It’s really, really difficult to know what kind of impact would be big or frequent enough to spur that kind of public unity, especially directed at climate change mitigation (as opposed to adaptation). After all, no one will be able to prevent climate disasters within their lifetime through mitigation — the next 50 years of climate change are already “baked in.” So we’re talking about the peoples of the U.S. and the world rallying around emergency measures, wartime sacrifices, on behalf of future generations. I can easily imagine that never happening. And if it does, it’s going to take some kind of shock that I can’t even really imagine.
Delina and Diesendorf acknowledge that politicians will resist adopting a true emergency posture: ...
A huge, global challenge like climate change is inevitably going to mean more government action and intrusion. The choice is, do you want managed big government, with a bounded set of plans and some amount of oversight built in, or do you want panicked big government, responding to migrations, famines, and conflict? I’m not exactly excited about either choice, but the former definitely strikes me as the lesser of two evils.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Three items related to Earth Day 2013
Poll finds Americans less concerned about the environment now than when Earth Day beganPosted at: Monday, April 22, 2013 - 05:08 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Emily Swanson Huffington Post USA/Canada April 22, 2013
Americans place less importance on environmental issues than they did in 1971, a year after Earth Day was established, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But the poll also finds that more Americans are taking some steps to protect the environment, such as cutting down on electricity use, eating organic foods and recycling.
For Earth Day this year, The Huffington Post and its polling partner YouGov assessed how environmental attitudes and behaviors have changed since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 by repeating questions that were originally asked on two 1971 surveys.
The first survey was a telephone poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for Richard Nixon between May 7 and 25, 1971, that included broad questions about attitudes toward the environment and environmental spending. The second was a separate Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted using in-person interviews between July 16 and August 2, 1971, and measured actions respondents said they had recently taken to help protect the environment. Both surveys were accessed through the Roper Center's iPoll database.
Although differences in methodology between the 1971 polls and the online HuffPost/YouGov poll may account for some of the differences in results, the responses make clear that environmental issues have become less important to Americans over the past four decades. ...
Earth Day 2013: Land for food under attack worldwide
Sally Millar rabble.ca Canada April 19, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
As Earth Week 2013 rolls around, a frenzy of land grabbing threatens our food supply, Indigenous land use practices, access to water and the future of farming. In recent years the focus on speculation in food prices caused riots in over 30 countries. However, speculative investment has turned its eye in 2013 from food commodities to farmland itself. Land is now considered a safer bet.
The formula has not changed though: investment funds estimate that as population increases, more people will seek to eat, and the value of places to grow food will go up. Farmland investment company Agcapita's website touts land for sale: "Agcapita believes farmland is a safe investment, that supply is shrinking and that unprecedented demand for 'food, feed and fuel' will continue to move crop prices higher over the long-term. We believe Canadian farmland has some highly unique and useful characteristics … if structured correctly, [it offers] minimal counter-party risk and in certain markets a margin of safety due to discounted prices." Scarcity begets a good speculative market -- too bad that scarcity in this case means hunger.
Whether it is development, speculation on food prices, land purchase for countries running low on their own land, or mining, land for food is under attack. Land grabbing has led to fierce resistance, murders and an investment climate that has started to sound like the mythical Wild West. In many places, including Canada, much of the land was never ceded to colonial governments. The traditional lands are not titled and legislated according to market capitalism, though their traditional use and occupation is self-evident. ...
Canadian investors have joined the new investment rush enthusiastically, including Emergent Asset Management, and the British companies of the Weston family (Loblaws, etc.) Pension fund investors have followed suit. Canada's governments have laid out the red carpet for land grabbing; the National Farmers' Union reports loosening of foreign ownership prohibitions and support for foreign creation of subsidiary companies to buy up land.
What is lost in the turn to land for speculative investment? We are losing alternative property relations in a mad rush to commodification and titling. This includes indigenous land models, both in Canada, and around the world, as well as long-term farming communities. We are losing farmland at a grievous rate -- over 600,000 acres in Ontario in five years. Land that goes for development destroys more than the farms it absorbs. ...
Earth Day reading list: Extensions of environmentalism
Kaitlin McNabb rabble.ca Canada April 22, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Happy Earth Day!
It's the final day of Earth Week, and after all the discussions and coverage, I think we've learned that Earth Week extends beyond the direct eco-friendly and environmental concerns associated with it to all issues that impact our communities. We've learned about and voiced our opinions about the interconnection of caring for the environment and caring for the people within that environment too!
rabble.ca's community has continued to comment on the issues that affect them and that they care about, so we have compiled a quick hits reading list about some of those issues. Please feel free to add your favourite reading material in the comments section below or on the babble book lounge's Earth Week thread. ...
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
How a warming world is a threat to our food supplies
Global warming is exacerbating political instability as tensions brought on by food insecurity rise. With research suggesting the issue can only get worse The Observer examines the risks around the world.Posted at: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 04:35 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Climate change: How a warming world is a threat to our food supplies
John Vidal The Observer UK April 13, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links, charts and an infographic—"the impact of climate on food".
When the Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, it was in protest at heavy-handed treatment and harassment in the province where he lived. But a host of new studies suggest that a major factor in the subsequent uprisings, which became known as the Arab spring, was food insecurity.
Drought, rocketing bread prices, food and water shortages have all blighted parts of the Middle East. Analysts at the Centre for American Progress in Washington say a combination of food shortages and other environmental factors exacerbated the already tense politics of the region. As the Observer reports today, an as-yet unpublished US government study indicates that the world needs to prepare for much more of the same, as food prices spiral and longstanding agricultural practices are disrupted by climate change.
"We should expect much more political destabilisation of countries as it bites," says Richard Choularton, a policy officer in the UN's World Food Programme climate change office. "What is different now from 20 years ago is that far more people are living in places with a higher climatic risk; 650 million people now live in arid or semi-arid areas where floods and droughts and price shocks are expected to have the most impact.
"The recent crises in the Horn of Africa and Sahel may be becoming the new normal. Droughts are expected to become more frequent. Studies suggest anything up to 200 million more food-insecure people by 2050 or an additional 24 million malnourished children. In parts of Africa we already have a protracted and growing humanitarian disaster. Climate change is a creeping disaster," he said.
The Mary Robinson climate justice foundation is hosting a major conference in Dublin this week. Research to be presented there will say that rising incomes and growth in the global population, expected to create 2 billion more mouths to feed by 2050, will drive food prices higher by 40-50%. Climate change may add a further 50% to maize prices and slightly less to wheat, rice and oil seeds.
"We know population will grow and incomes increase, but also that temperatures will rise and rainfall patterns will change. We must prepare today for higher temperatures in all sectors," said Gerald Nelson, a senior economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
All of the studies suggest the worst impacts will be felt by the poorest people. [Mary] Robinson, the former Irish president, said: "Climate change is already having a domino effect on food and nutritional security for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Child malnutrition is predicted to increase by 20% by 2050. Climate change impacts will disproportionately fall on people living in tropical regions, and particularly on the most vulnerable and marginalised population groups. This is the injustice of climate change – the worst of the impacts are felt by those who contributed least to causing the problem."
But from Europe to the US to Asia, no population will remain insulated from the huge changes in food production that the rest of the century will bring. ...
Friday, April 5, 2013
"Blame Canada": How Canada has become a wealthy, fossil-fuelled energy superpower and an international climate pariah
Blame Canada is a four part series revealing how Canada has become a wealthy, fossil-fuelled energy superpower and an international climate pariah. Part 1 reveals Canada's emergence as a Petrostate, part 2 outlines Canada's climate crimes, and part 3 shows how energy 'wealth' contributes to the nation's poverty. Part 4 is below.Posted at: Friday, April 05, 2013 - 02:58 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Stephen Leahy is the 2012 co-winner of the Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for Climate Change reporting . A Canadian, Leahy is the senior science and environment correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) based in Rome.
Blame Canada Part 4: What is happening to Canada?
Stephen Leahy DeSmog Canada British Columbia Canada April 4, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Canada's opposition to anything that might help developing countries is “mind-boggling” a delegate from Mali told me during a UN conference to slow the widespread extinction of species. “Canadians are known to protect the environment, I cannot understand why they are pushing policies that are clearly unsustainable," he said.
Only a few days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper told delegates that losing wildlife was an urgent and alarming issue. Then as nearly 190 nations made plans to take action, Canadian delegates blocked those plans with legal and technical manoeuvres.
“Do Canadians know what their government is doing here? You must tell them.”
That was in 2008. Since then at environmental or development gatherings around the world I've been asked dozens of times “what has happened to Canada?” And it's not just me.
“Wherever I travel in Africa people ask me, ‘what happened to Canada?” Joanna Kerr told the Globe and Mail March 30. Kerr, a Canadian, heads the global anti-poverty organization ActionAid.
It's no secret what's happened to Canada.
"Oil wealth has changed the culture of Canada, but there is no discussion about any of this,” says Alberta journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of the award winning book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. His latest book is The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude.
Canada's media have avoided the issue or acted as cheerleaders of the energy sector. ...
A short history of greenwashing the Alberta tar sands
Jeff Gailus has been writing about the collision of science, nature and politics for 15 years. His work has been featured in a variety of Canadian and international magazines and newspapers, and nominated for dozens of awards. His first book, The Grizzly Manifesto (Rocky Mountain Books 2010), was a finalist for the 2011 Alberta Readers' Choice Award.Posted at: Friday, April 05, 2013 - 02:56 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
More recently, he has been at work on Little Black Lies: Corporate and Political Spin in the Global War for Oil. His research, which focuses on the rhetoric in the battle for the tar sands, has led him to conclude that the rise of obfuscation and misinformation is one of the most dangerous characteristics of our modern capitalist-democracies.
He also teaches university field courses for the Wild Rockies Field Institute and Wildlands Studies. He currently lives in Missoula, Montana with his wife Ylva.
A short history of greenwashing the tar sands, Part 1
Jeff Gailus DeSmog Canada Briish Columbia Canada March 19, 2013
This is Part One of a three-part series on the political greenwashing of the tar sands in Canada. Visit this page for its embedded links.
When I hatched the idea to write a book about the use of spin and propaganda in the battle over the tar sands, a close friend of mine suggested I avoid the term “tar sands.” His logic was simple: using this term, which has become a pejorative, would turn some people off, people who might benefit, he said, from reading my book.
His recommendation was meant to be helpful, but it speaks to the power of manipulating language to make people believe something appears to be something that it is not. “Greenwashing” refers to the strategy of intentionally exaggerating a product’s environmental credentials in order to sell it, and nowhere has greenwashing been more generously used than in the promotion of the tar sands and the new and bigger pipelines that proponents hope will carry it around the world.
Greenwashing is fairly recent phenomenon—it was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1999—but it has become commonplace as public concern has grown over the spate of environmental problems we now face, and as consumers demand “greener” products as a means of solving them. The most recent analysis by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found that although the number of green products is growing, the marketing of more than 95 per cent of them still commits one the seven sins of greenwashing.
The most egregious of these greenwashing efforts include such misleading efforts to market coal as “clean,” which is simply an Orwellian way of referring to the dirtiest of all hydrocarbon energy sources; greenhouse-gas intensive shale oil as faux-green “EcoShale”; and, yes, the characterization of the pollution-laden and climate-warming tar sands as a responsible, sustainable, even “green” source of energy.
It comes as a surprise to most people I talk to that “tar sands” was actually the preferred term for Alberta’s newest hydrocarbon resource when it first came to market in the late 1960s. It wasn’t until the environmental community began to educate the public about the dirty downsides of turning bitumen into crude in the late 1990s that Big Oil and Canadian governments began using the term more useful and cleaner-sounding “oil sands” to promote its development in northern Alberta.
But this was only the first step in the greenwashing of the tar sands. ...
Greenwashing the tar sands, Part 2: Do as I say, not as I do
Jeff Gailus DeSmog Canada Briish Columbia Canada April 5, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Last week, I wrote a short history of the greenwashing campaign being waged by tar sands promoters, including (and especially) the Canadian and Alberta governments. It’s clear that as the battle over the future of tar sands development has intensified, so has the greenwashing necessary to promote it in the age of climate change and increasing environmental literacy. The more people know about the dangerous costs and risks associated with tar sands development, the more time, effort and money its promoters must invest in the alchemy of disingenuous propaganda.
The frustrating part for Canadians concerned with this egregious abuse and misuse of language is that there doesn’t appear to be any recourse. Tar sands supporters seem to disseminate their little black lies with impunity, and there is no way, in a democracy where free speech is sacrosanct, to stop the flood of tar sands bullshit sullying the airwaves.
And yet, I may have stumbled on at least one way to hold those who choose to misrepresent the true nature of the environmental problems associated with turning Alberta’s bitumen deposits into tar sands crude to well-accepted standards of decency and honesty. ...
Editor: Part III of this series will explore whether the oil industry does a better job following the federal government’s Environmental Claims Guidelines for Industry and Advertising than Canadian politicians.
Arkansas oil spill turns town of Mayflower into "something out of the post-apocalyptic TV series 'The Walking Dead’" and fuels the question, is spilled Canadian crude the worst crude for environmental contamination?
Mayflower, Arkansas is not a big place ... population 23, 000, the kind of town where the Mayor's yearly address includes detail on culverts and the new fire truck. But after Friday's pipeline spill that saw diluted bitumen gush down the streets, Mayflower is the Canadian pipeline debate writ large with one side arguing the spill points up the need for new pipelines and the other pointing to a reason to stop Keystone. "The Current", CBC Radio OnePosted at: Friday, April 05, 2013 - 12:51 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
After the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a temporary no-fly zone over the Arkansas oil spill on Monday, speculation abounded that the ban was an attempt to keep the media from fully assessing the impact of the spill. - RT reporting
Before an ExxonMobil contractor, Wildlife Response Services of Seabrook, Texas, took over the rescue effort, a local all-volunteer nonprofit group, the HAWK Center (Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters"), washed and cared for the animals, posting some photos on its Facebook page. Lynne Slater, HAWK Center founder and director, said it was impossible to identify some of the ducks (there were gadwalls, mallards, and blue-wing teals) until some of the oil was removed with dishwashing soap. "It was really like removing peanut butter and tar mixed together," she said. "It was super, super sticky." - Bret Schulte reporting
Audio: Arkansas spill fuels Keystone XL debate
"The Current" CBC Radio One Canada April 2, 2013
This page contains embedded links. If you choose, you can listen to this segment of the program (23:20) from a pop-up link on the page.
Resident of Mayflower, Arkansas - Joe Bradley
Whatever their personal opinion of Canadian oil, it's a safe bet no American wants a pool of the stuff on their front lawn or leaking into neighborhood ditches. But that's what many people in Mayflower, Arkansas face after Exxon's Pegasus pipeline ruptured on Friday.
Clean up crews continue to vacuum up the mess and Exxon estimates 12,000 barrels of oil and water have been recovered. It's believed none of the oil reached Lake Conway - a local source of drinking water.
Joe Bradley lives on North Starlite road in Mayflower and he has been forced from his home. He and his eight year old daughter are staying at a hotel this morning. And that's where we reached him.
Alberta's Minister of International & Intergovernmental Relations
People looking for grounds to dislike pipelines likely put "leaks" at the top of the list. Some say this spill provides more reasons not to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas. But advocates say Keystone will be different.
"Keystone XL will be built with modern high-quality steel using state-of-the-art construction practices and 57 additional conditions suggested by the U.S. Federal Government. The government concluded in an environmental impact statement that Keystone XL would be one of the safest pipelines ever built and I certainly agree." - Andy Black, President of the Association of Oil Pipelines in Washington, DC.
From materials to inspection techniques, he argues that much has changed since Pegasus was installed in the late 1940s. Cal Dallas agrees that pipeline technology has evolved for the better. He's Alberta's Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations. We reached him in Edmonton.
Director of the Get Off Oil program, Daniel Gatti
The rupture of the Pegasus pipeline in Arkansas certainly makes for some ominous television pictures -- but not that many people are directly affected and it doesn't appear that drinking water has been contaminated.
Nevertheless, our next guest believes it will probably fuel opposition to the debate over the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Daniel Gatti is the director of the Get Off Oil program at the advocacy group Environment America. He joined us from Amherst, Massachusetts.
This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Vanessa Greco and Catherine Kalbfleisch.
Items: Exxon cleans up Arkansas oil spill; Keystone plan assailed
Kristen Hays and Matthew Robinson Thomson Reuters Canada/UK March 31, 2013
(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil on Sunday continued cleanup of a pipeline spill that spewed thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude in Arkansas as opponents of oil sands development latched on to the incident to attack plans to build the Keystone XL line. ...
The 848-mile pipeline used to transport crude oil from Texas to Illinois. In 2006 Exxon reversed it to move crude from Illinois to Texas in response to growing Canadian oil production and the ability of U.S. Gulf Coast refineries to process heavy crude.
The Arkansas spill drew fast reaction from opponents of the 800,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline, which also would carry heavy crude from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf Coast refining hub.
Environmentalists have expressed concerns about the impact of developing the oil sands and say the crude is more corrosive to pipelines than conventional oil. On Wednesday, a train carrying Canadian crude derailed in Minnesota, spilling 15,000 gallons of oil.
"Whether it's the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, or ... (the) mess in Arkansas, Americans are realizing that transporting large amounts of this corrosive and polluting fuel is a bad deal for American taxpayers and for our environment," said Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. ...
Exxon playing ‘divide and conquer’ in ‘Walking Dead’-like oil spill town
RT Russia April 4, 2013
Visit this page for its photos and its brief video.
The Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill continues to be the source of questions about the long-term health, environmental and financial consequences for residents in a town the state’s attorney general described as a scene out of ‘The Walking Dead.'
After thousands of barrels of crude oil spilled from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline over Easter weekend in the small Arkansas town, residents who were forced to evacuate from the 22 affected households continue to wonder what will become of their neighborhood and their lives.
While many are still unsure when they will one day be able to come home, questions about the energy giant's cleanup and compensation efforts have left both local residents and state officials less than satisfied. ...
[Arkansas Attorney General Dustin] McDaniel said he had issued a subpoena for documents, data and other evidence from ExxonMobil pertaining to the ruptured pipeline, setting an April 10 deadline for the oil and gas conglomerate to produce the requested evidence.
Speaking of potential reductions of property value in wake of the spill, McDaniel said that monetary losses resulting from those attempting to sell their houses “should not fall on the shoulders of homeowners.”
McDaniel characterized the affected area as something out of the post-apocalyptic TV series 'The Walking Dead,’ where “people in Hazmat suits” scoured the otherwise abandoned streets.
The attorney general estimated that some 600 responders were currently on the ground, not counting those who were offering assistance off site.
He further assessed that for a relatively small spill, the cleanup is “just not going great.” ...
The Pegasus pipeline, which can carry 90,000 barrels of crude from Illinois to Texas per day, crosses 13 miles of the Lake Maumelle watershed. The watershed incidentally provides much of the water for the Arkansas state capital, Little Rock.
When the pipeline ruptured on Friday, it was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude, a bitumen oil originating in the Canadian province of Alberta. ...
Exxon controls skies over Arkansas oil spill
Natasha Lennard Salon.com USA April 4, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded link.
DeSmog Blog’s Steve Horn Thursday drew attention to an interesting detail in the Arkansas ExxonMobil oil spill story. He notes, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a ‘no fly zone’ in place in Mayflower, Arkansas since April 1 at 2:12 PM and will be in place ‘until further notice,’ according to the FAA website and it’s being overseen by ExxonMobil itself.”
This means that any journalists or observers wishing to survey the tar sands disaster and cleanup efforts must ask the Pegasus pipeline owner for permission. Via Horn:
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed that the FAA site noted earlier today that “only relief aircraft operations under direction of Tom Suhrhoff” were allowed within the designated no fly zone.
Below: Suzi Parker is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on politics and Southern culture. She lives in Little Rock, Ark.
Arkansas town in lockdown after oil spill nightmare
Suzi Parker Grist USA April 5, 2013
There’s one Exxon gas station in Mayflower, Ark.
Before last Friday, that’s likely as close as Mayflower residents got to the multinational oil and gas behemoth ExxonMobil. But after the Pegasus Pipeline burst last Friday, sending thousands of gallons of tar sands oil into the Northwoods neighborhood, the company became omnipresent in this small town of 2,200 people.
The first thing you notice when driving into Mayflower is the stench. Travelers can smell the fumes from Interstate 40, which runs through the town. Within town limits, the smell is putrid: Imagine wet asphalt on a hot summer’s day — times 10,000. At the local Harp’s grocery, something less than half a mile from the spill, the stink makes your eyes water and your nose burn.
But the reek is only a hint at ExxonMobil’s presence here. Since thick, black, sludge first began oozing across backyards and into the streets, surprising many residents who say they didn’t even realize the pipeline was there, the company has instituted something like martial law. ...
Company workers wearing logoed shirts roam throughout the town. Local police guard the entrance to the neighborhood where the spill happened. On Starlite Road, where oil flowed down the street last week, workers vacuum up oil in yards and steam-wash pavement.
The oil company has also taken over wildlife rescue from a local organization; independent rescuers report that they are being forced to leave private property by ExxonMobil enforcers. (Casualties so far include oil-covered ducks, snakes, and nutria.) Reporters who accompanied Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on a tour of the spill on Wednesday were asked to leave by Exxon representatives. Even the state Department of Environmental Quality refers reporters to the Exxon downstream media line for information.
Earlier this week, ExxonMobil requested – and received – a temporary no-fly zone over the oil spill. A local newspaper reported that the only aircraft allowed in the area were those under the direction of Tom Suhrhoff, who according to LinkedIn is an aviation adviser at ExxonMobil. After a two-day prohibition, some media were allowed to fly over on Thursday. ...
The thick tar sands oil ran into creeks and tributaries throughout the area. ExxonMobil officials have repeatedly said that they prevented any run-off into Lake Conway, a popular fishing and recreation spot. The company reports that it has placed barriers and 3,600 feet of boom around the lake. Aerial photos, however, show oil in marshes near the lake, and another photo shows dead vegetation in the lake.
And then there’s that stench. Exxon sent a mailer to Mayflower residents stating, in part, “Although you may smell an odor, current air quality readings are below levels likely to cause health effects with the exception of the cleanup areas where the emergency responders are directly working.”
It’s unclear what exactly is in these fumes, but previous tar sand leaks include toxic natural gas liquids and other petrochemical diluents. And the fumes appear to be seriously affecting people. ...
Oil spill spotlights Keystone XL issue: Is Canadian crude worse?
Bret Schulte in Fayetteville, Arkansas National Geographic News USA April 4, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
David Hatfield, an Arkansas wildlife photographer and minister, rose before dawn on Monday and headed to Lake Conway.
Even though he had lived nearby for 25 years, Hatfield never knew of the threat now oozing near this 6,700-acre habitat 25 miles north of Little Rock, the largest game and wildlife commission reservoir in the United States.
"It surprised me that we had a pipeline here," he said.
But ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline has been buried here for more than six decades, quietly propelling oil between Texas and Illinois beneath the backyards of Mayflower, Arkansas. Pegasus' years in obscurity ended March 29, when it ruptured, spilling at least 12,000 barrels (504,000 gallons/1.9 million liters) of heavy Canadian crude oil and water into the neighborhood. (See related "Pictures: Arkansas Oil Spill Darkens Backyards, Driveways.")
Now, the broken conduit is at the center of a national debate—the plan to transport much larger volumes of heavy oil from the Canadian tar sands through the United States, through both older pipelines like Pegasus and new ones like the proposed Keystone XL. (See related interactive map: "Keystone XL: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.") The line break in Arkansas may provide a real-world test of a hotly contested issue: Is tar sands oil more corrosive and damaging than other types of crude? ...
Although the U.S. State Department's environmental impact analysis last month concluded that there was no evidence that tar sands oil was worse than other forms of crude oil, it noted the issue was still under study. The results of a National Academies of Science review of the literature are due in July. But with President Barack Obama's decision on a permit for Keystone XL expected sooner than that, the Arkansas spill is providing new ammunition for foes of the project.
"The tragedy is a lot of these issues haven't been given the attention they merit," said Anthony Swift, an attorney with the international program of the environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In the wake of the Arkansas spill, he and other opponents intend to make sure questions they have long been raising about tar sands oil—the risks to pipeline integrity, and the challenges for cleanup—get a greater hearing. ...
[I]t's an open question whether heavy Canadian oil—and specifically, oil from Alberta's tar sands—is any worse than conventional crude, which has proven its ability to cause damage whether in Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Mexico, or the sands of Kuwait.
The raw product extracted from Alberta's tar sands is known as bitumen, and it is as viscous as cold molasses. It can't be transported in pipelines unless it is processed or diluted. (Exxon Mobil says the oil that spilled in Mayflower was not diluted bitumen, but heavy Canadian oil. But there may be little practical difference between the two, since the company did confirm the presence of dilutants in the oil. And Canada's National Energy Board says western Canada heavy crude contains some bitumen.)
Questions on the properties of diluted bitumen, known as dilbit, first came to the fore in 2010 when a pipeline operated by Calgary's Enbridge burst near Michigan's Kalamazoo River, contaminating 40 miles of river and wetlands with dilbit. Workers are still cleaning up the site, at a tab now running north of $800 million, making it the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history. ...
But the National Academies study will look only at the corrosion issue, not the equally contentious question of whether dilbit behaves differently in the environment. ...
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Climate change: Nations worrying; acting; warning
Intro: High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP)Posted at: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 07:32 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
World Meteorological Organization International
Towards More Drought Resilient Societies
11-15 March 2013
Given the current concerns with climate change, projected increases in the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts and resulting impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy, there is cause for concern regarding the lack of drought preparedness and appropriate drought management policies for virtually all nations. The time is ripe for nations to move forward with the development of a pro-active, risk-based national drought policy.
In order to address the issue of national drought policy, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Congress at its Sixteenth Session held in Geneva from 16 May to 3 June 2011 recommended the organization of a “High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP)”.
Accordingly, WMO and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in collaboration with a number of UN Agencies, International and Regional Organizations and key national agencies, plan to organize a High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) from 11 to 15 March 2013.
Items: Below: Irregular monsoons and drought can devastate the livelihood of India's vast rural population, many already struggling under a burden of debt. The country can do little about the monsoons, but aims to protect itself and farmers better against drought.
India strives to make itself drought proof
Manipadma Jena (Inter Press Service/Independent European Daily Express International/UK March 12, 2013
HYDERABAD, India, Mar 12 (IPS) - In a country of 1.2 billion people, the threat of drought takes on epic proportions.
Over a period of two centuries (between 1801 and 2002), India experienced 42 severe droughts, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation. One of these, in 1979, cut food grain production by 20%; another, in 1987, damaged 58.6 million hectares of cultivated land, affecting 285 million people. In the past decade (2002-2012) three major droughts hit the country, and in 2012 drought shaved off half a percentage point from India's gross domestic product (GDP), according to a 2013 World Bank report.
Seventy percent of Indians live in rural areas, while 58% rely solely on agriculture for a living. The 355 million people who fall below the US$1.25-a-day poverty line depend primarily on rain-fed agriculture for subsistence.
Thus drought has become a national priority for the Indian government, particularly as climate change causes ever more erratic monsoon rains. ...
New Zealand suffering biggest drought in 30 years
Nick Perry AP/US News and World Report USA March 14, 2013
CARTERTON, New Zealand (AP) — Dairy farmer John Rose has sent more than 100 of his cows to the slaughterhouse over recent weeks as a severe drought browned pastures in New Zealand's normally verdant North Island.
He had to thin his herd so the remaining 550 cows have enough to eat, and he's supplementing their diet with ground palm kernel as the grass in his fields withers.
"We try and make sure they've got water and shade during the day and do the best we can for them," he said. "It's very hard to remember when the last rainfall was."
The drought is costing farmers millions of dollars each day and is beginning to take a toll on New Zealand's economy. On Friday, the government officially declared its most widespread drought in at least 30 years.
Parts of the North Island are drier than they've been in 70 years and some scientists say the unusual weather could be a harbinger of climate change. There has been little significant rainfall in the northern and eastern parts of the country since October.
Still, some are finding the dry, sun soaked days a boon. Vintners call the conditions perfect. And city dwellers are reveling in eating lunch outdoors or spending evenings at the beach in a Southern Hemisphere summer that never seems to end.
Farmers estimate the drought has so far cost them about 1 billion New Zealand dollars ($820 million) in lost export earnings with the damage rising daily as they reduce their herds, which in turn reduces milk production.
Farming, and dairy cows in particular, drives the economy in the island nation of 4.5 million and the drought is expected to shave about a percentage point off economic growth.
New Zealand's last significant drought was five years ago and also cost farmers billions of dollars. ...
North Island declared a drought zone
Matthew Theunissen New Zealand Herald New Zealand March 15, 2013
Includes an informative video report, "Drought: The impact is huge" (5:51).
The entire North Island has officially been declared a drought zone.
The announcement was made on a Manawatu sheep and beef farm by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning. ...
The hardest hit were sheep and beef farmers in the hill country, with many running perilously low on stock drinking water. Some were trucking water in, but some farms were too inaccessible so farmers were being forced to open all their gates, allowing stock to wander and search for water on their own.
The other key issue was a lack of feed supplements, compounded by the fact the entire North Island was affected.
"Normally in a drought you'll find maybe the east coast is doing alright and the west coast is struggling so they'll be able to buy feed from them or send stock over there, but those options don't really exist with this drought."
Mr Guy said it had become clear that nearly all farmers in every part of the North Island are facing very difficult dry conditions. ...
Related: Top military officer: Climate change biggest threat to security
Alex Kane AlterNet USA March 11, 2013
Photo: © Meryll/Shuttestock.com. This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org. Visit this page for its embedded links.
The nuclear-war themed back and forth between North and South Korea is not the biggest threat to the Asia-Pacific region. Instead, it’s climate change, according to a top military officer.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, a naval officer in charge of the Asia-Pacific region, told the Boston Globe Friday that global warming “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.” Locklear added: “People are surprised sometimes...You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Locklear made the comments to the Boston Globe during an interview after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts Universities. He met with a number of foreign policy specialists to discuss U.S. policy towards Asia as the Obama administrations goes ahead with its plan to “pivot” to the region. ...
Locklear said that the U.S. military had begun to reach out to other militaries to deal with the threat of global warming. “We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he told the Boston Globe. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.”
Friday, February 22, 2013
In the oceans: Foundational species, phytoplankton and bivalve mollusks, stressed by temperature change and increasing acidification caused by global CO2 emissions
Into: Earth is currently in a period of warming. Over the last century, Earth's average temperature rose about 1.1°F (0.6°C). In the last two decades, the rate of our world's warming accelerated and scientists predict that the globe will continue to warm over the course of the 21st century. Is this warming trend a reason for concern? After all, our world has witnessed extreme warm periods before, such as during the time of the dinosaurs. Earth has also seen numerous ice ages on roughly 11,000-year cycles for at least the last million years. So, change is perhaps the only constant in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. Scientists note that there are two new and different twists to today's changing climate: (1) The globe is warming at a faster rate than it ever has before; and (2) Humans are the main reason Earth is warming. Since the industrial revolution, which began in the mid-1800s, humans have attained the magnitude of a geological force in terms of our ability change Earth's environment and impact its climate system. ... - NASA Science, How is the global earth system changing?
Earth's energy balance
Center of Climate Sciences, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA n.d.
The oceans are the dominant reservoir for the storage of heat in the climate system. Changes in the global climate that occur from a net imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation at the top of Earth’s atmosphere, result in the accumulation of heat in the ocean.
Over the past 50 years Earth's oceans have accumulated over 90 percent of the excess heat from the radiative imbalance due to human caused greenhouse gases. Oceans provide a means of monitoring the cumulative impact of climate forcing over time.
The Center of Climate Sciences at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory works to bring together measurements of the variability in the net radiative imbalance using NASA Terra and Aqua data products. The Center will also factor in new estimates of the ocean heat content to be developed as part of a proposed ROSES 2010 effort titled “Ocean Warming and the Earth's Energy Balance” (proposal number 10-PO10-0009). ...
Items: The existential imperative: Ocean thermal energy conversion
Jim Baird The Energy Collective USA February 11, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
A 2006 study led by Michael Behrenfeld, at Oregon State University suggested warming oceans produce less phytoplankton. It outlined as well the importance of this finding by pointing out this basic form of plant life are the base of the ocean food chain and absorb substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. They do this by converting the carbon to organic matter by photosynthesis giving off oxygen in the process.
It has been suggested our atmosphere contained no oxygen before cyanobacteria, which are a form of phytoplankton, came into existence about 2.45 billion years ago and that all forms of phytoplankton continue to produce about half of our planet’s oxygen.
The Behrenfield study found that between 1999 to 2004, some regions of the oceans experienced a phytoplankton decline of as much as 30% and that globally about 190 million tonnes of carbon per year were not absorbed due to this decline.
The 2006 models predicted that the loss of plankton due to warming in the mid-latitudes would be reversed near the poles, where researchers expect to see a rise in productivity. They did not however expect that this rise would counter the loss of plankton from the tropical region.
A 2010 paper, "Global phytoplankton decline over the past century" by Daniel G. Boyce et al. reinforced the 2006 finding and postulated the reason for the phytoplankton decline, which was estimated at close to one percent per year since 1950, was thermal stratification of the oceans. “The plants need sunlight from above and nutrients from below; and as it becomes more stratified, that limits the availability of nutrients," said Boyce. ...
Secrets of mussels' super strength
Jude Isabella TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada February 19, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Just south of Vancouver, in a marine science laboratory in Friday Harbour on San Juan Island, finger-length mussels rest on cobbles the size of marbles in water from the Salish Sea. They reside in groups of three in containers the size of beer jugs. The bay mussel (Mytilus trossulus) is sharing some of its secrets with researcher Emily Carrington -- not bad for an animal with no brain. But Carrington has a knack for getting them to "talk."
A scientist at the University of Washington, Carrington studies ecological mechanics. In this case it's the form and function of mussels in their environment, the dynamic intertidal zone, and what she's found is that a biological material -- in this case the mussel's sticky threads, called byssus -- functions only as well as its environment allows. So, yes, climate change is the villain that could rob the mussel of its biological superpower, an ability to cling Spiderman-like to hard surfaces, with the added assault of pounding ocean waves.
The cobbles allow Carrington's lab to study individual threads for adhesion to a natural surface, as mussel will generally attach one byssal per cobble. Think of a byssal thread as a bungee cord -- springy yet strong enough to keep alive a 200-lb. man who wants to jump of a bridge.
"When I started, I thought [the dislodgment problem] was all about the waves," says Carrington, sitting at a white-clothed table, her face glowing with health, likely a sign that a year-long sabbatical conducting research in Sicily is good for you. "I was so naïve. It turns out a whole bunch of environmental factors, not just waves, affect mussel attachment." ...
Currently, Carrington and her students at Friday Harbour are working on a few projects looking at climate change and mussel byssus. Since her earlier research tied warmer summer temperatures to weaker byssal threads, Carrington paid closer attention to temperature. One lab project has already revealed that mussels -- again, like salmon -- are fussy about temperature. In lab experiments, the byssus of bay mussels kept their superpower ability with temperatures as high as 18˚ C. But start cranking the heat to 23˚ C and above and the byssal attachment weakens. At a sustained 25˚ C a byssal thread is 60 percent weaker than normal. ...
Don’t believe in climate change? Talk to a clam digger
Maria Dolan Grist USA February 20, 2013
Right: Young oysters are increasingly vulnerable as the ocean absorbs carbon and becomes more acidic. Photo: Jon Rowley. Visit this page for its embedded links.
Behind the counter at Seattle’s Taylor Shellfish Market, a brawny guy with a goatee pries open kumamoto, virginica, and shigoku oysters as easily as other men pop beer cans. David Leck is a national oyster shucking champion who opened and plated a dozen of them in just over a minute (time is added for broken shells or mangled meat) at the 2012 Boston International Oyster Shucking Competition. You have to be quick, these days, to keep up with demand. The oysters here were grown nearby in Taylor’s century-old beds, but the current hunger for pedigreed mollusks on the half shell stretches to raw bars and markets across the country.
A similar oyster craze swept the United States in the 1800s, when the bivalves were eaten with alacrity in New York, San Francisco, and anywhere else that could get them fresh. Development of a fancy new technology, canning, meant there was money in preserved oysters, too. Gold miners in Northern California celebrated their riches with an oyster omelet called hangtown fry. New Yorkers ate them on the street; late at night they ate them in “oyster cellars.” Walt Whitman had them for breakfast.
That wave crashed. By the early 1900s, oysters were disappearing because of overharvesting and water pollution. Today’s revival is possible because oyster farms are better managed, and regulations have improved water quality. But a modern threat looms for ice-chilled fruits de mer platters, although it’s hard to tell with oyster juice on your chin. This time it’s a worldwide problem, affecting marine ecosystems everywhere. Ocean waters are turning corrosive, and it’s happening so quickly scientists say there may not be any oysters left to eat in coming decades.
Ocean acidification, as scientists call this pickling of the seas, is, like climate change, a result of the enormous amount of carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere. Oceans have absorbed about a quarter of that output, and ocean chemistry has changed as a result. ...
Unlike other problems caused by CO2, ocean acidification is spurring some action, possibly because the effects are so visibly tied to the cause. “With climate change there’s often a schism between scientists and those who flat out don’t want to believe it,” says [Mark Green of St. Joseph’s College]. “It’s hard to get a man to believe something if his job depends on not believing it.” But in this case, he says, it’s the people in the industry who are leading awareness. “Talk to shellfish clammers — the guys who dig — and every one of them is on board, especially the old timers. They have seen over the years the populations go from incredibly productive to virtually disappearing in many cases.” One bit of anecdotal evidence diggers have reported is clams with thinner shells — so thin, they say, that sometimes it’s not possible to fill bushel baskets to the top because the fragile shells at the bottom will be crushed.
For the diggers, a scientific fix is the only hope they have of saving their industry. But even the best near-shore solution can’t stop the pH drop that’s taking place oceanwide, not unless we plan to stop releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and replace it with Milk of Magnesia. ...
Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial think tanks
Intro: But the aims goes far beyond trying to halt climate change action. What we have is an oligarchic war on hopes for a just and safe society.Posted at: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 08:20 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states: Nonprofit group lets donors fly 'totally under the radar'
Paul Abowd The Center for Public Integrity USA February 14, 2013
Includes an informative infographic and embedded links.
In 2009, a network of online media outlets began popping up in state capitals across the nation, each covering the news from a clearly conservative point of view. What wasn’t so clear was how they were funded.
“The source is 100 percent anonymous,” said Michael Moroney, a spokesman for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the think tank that created the outlets.
In fact, 95 percent of Franklin’s revenue in 2011 came from a charity called Donors Trust, according to Internal Revenue Service records.
Conservative foundations and individuals use Donors Trust to pass money to a vast network of think tanks and media outlets that push free-market ideology in the states — $86 million in 2011 alone. The arrangement obscures the identity of the donors wishing to keep their charitable giving private, especially “gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues,” according to the group’s website.
Since its founding in 1999, Donors Trust and its affiliated organization, Donors Capital Fund, have distributed nearly $400 million, becoming major vehicles for tax-exempt giving from wealthy conservatives such as billionaire industrialist Charles Koch.
Koch is among an exclusive pool of donors who have used Donors Trust as a “pass-through,” says Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, now in private legal practice. “It obscures the source of the money. It becomes a grant from Donors Trust, not a grant from the Koch brothers.”
[Whitney] Ball helped found Donors Trust in 1999 as a “donor-advised” fund. Donors can open an account and protect their identity from the public and even the recipient of their grants.
In addition, donor-advised funds offer contributors an extra level of control over where their money ends up, which seeks to remedy what Ball sees as the tendency for foundation money to “drift left.”
This was a chief concern of Daniel Searle, the late philanthropist and pharmaceutical executive who was one of Donors Trust’s early board members.
In 1998, with help from Donors Trust co-founder and board chairman Kim Dennis, Searle established an endowment called the Searle Freedom Trust, now worth $114 million, which has in turn given generously to Donors Trust.
The Searle Freedom Trust is one of dozens of conservative foundations that have given tens of millions of dollars to Donors Trust from 2001 to 2011. Among the group’s donors is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Wichita, Kan.-based foundation run by Charles Koch.
The foundation gave almost $8 million to Donors Trust between 2005 and 2011.
Where those funds ended up is a mystery, though some Donors Trust recipients, including the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies based at George Mason University in Virginia, have also received major funding from foundations set up by Charles Koch and brother David.
Nearly half of the revenue for David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Foundation came from Donors Trust in 2010, in the form of $7.6 million in grants.
Representatives for the Koch foundations did not return calls for comment.
Before Donors Trust, Ball was the director of development for the libertarian Cato Institute, which Charles Koch was instrumental in founding.
“We think they’re great guys,” she says of the Kochs, “but if they weren’t around, we’d still be successful.”
At a private Koch fundraising meeting in the summer of 2010, Donors Trust hosted cocktails and dessert for what Ball called a “target-rich environment” of wealthy donors.
Several wealthy conservatives who have attended Koch fundraising parties have Donors Trust accounts, including Amway co-founder and longtime booster of conservative causes Richard DeVos; hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer; and Philip Anschutz, owner of the conservative Examiner newspapers.
Dozens of other major conservative philanthropies have Donors Trust accounts, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Coors family’s Castle Rock Foundation, according to IRS records.
For a decade, Donors Trust has bolstered the efforts of D.C.-based conservative think tanks, including Cato, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — whose president, Arthur C. Brooks, is on the Donors Trust board.
In recent years, it has taken a strong interest in the states, funding state-level think tanks and three national umbrella organizations that coordinate their activities: the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network (SPN), and the Franklin Center.
“Gridlock” at the federal level of government means donors see “a better opportunity to make a difference in the states,” says Ball, who sits on the board of the State Policy Network.
SPN has become a major recipient of Donors Trust money — receiving $10 million in the past five years.
Items: Below: Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science.
Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent Guardian UK February 14, 2013
Climate sceptic groups are mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images. Visit this page for its embedded links and graph ("Climate Denial Funding").
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.
The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives.
The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more.
Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes.
"We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise," she said in an interview.
By definition that means none of the money is going to end up with groups like Greenpeace, she said. "It won't be going to liberals."
Ball won't divulge names, but she said the stable of donors represents a wide range of opinion on the American right. Increasingly over the years, those conservative donors have been pushing funds towards organisations working to discredit climate science or block climate action.
Donors exhibit sharp differences of opinion on many issues, Ball said. They run the spectrum of conservative opinion, from social conservatives to libertarians. But in opposing mandatory cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, they found common ground. ...
Secretive Donors Trust pumps far more money into climate denial and inaction than Kochs and Exxon Mobil combined
Jeff Spross ThinkProgress USA February 19, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
A secretive funding organization called Donors Trust spent the last decade funneling vast sums of money to an array of think tanks and activist groups, all dedicated to undermining the science of climate change and heading off the progress of climate policy. That’s according to reporting last week by The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg and a recent analysis by Greenpeace.
Working in concert with its sister organization, Donors Capital Fund, Donors Trust provided critical funding to some of the leading lights in the climate denial campaign....
Donors Trust: Little-known group helps wealthy backers fund right-wing agenda in secret
Democracy Now! USA February 19, 2013
Includes video interview (24:36)
Since 1999, the nonprofit charity Donors Trust has handed out nearly $400 million in private donations to more than 1,000 right-wing and libertarian groups. The fact it has been able to quietly do so appears to explain why it exists: Wealthy donors can back the right-wing causes they want without attracting public scrutiny. The most detailed accounting to date shows Donors Trust funds a wish list of right-wing causes, prompting Mother Jones magazine to label it "the dark-money ATM of the right." We’re joined by John Dunbar, politics editor at the Center for Public Integrity and co-author of the group’s months-long investigation into Donors Trust. "They’re essentially a pass through," Dunbar says of Donors Trust. "They act as a kind of a middleman between what are very large, well-known private foundations created mostly by corporate executives, like the Kochs, for example, and they direct the money of those contributions to a very large network of right-leaning, free-market think tanks across the country." [includes rush transcript]
AARON MATÉ: When it comes to the wealthy funders of right-wing causes, the big names are well known: billionaires like the industrialist Koch Brothers and the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, super PACs like Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. Now, through them, hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into right-wing causes and candidates. But now it turns out this web of dark-money donations is even more secretive than we previously thought. That’s because the operations of a largely unknown group have now come to light. They’re called Donors Trust, a nonprofit charity based in Virginia.
Since 1999, Donors Trust has handed out nearly $400 million in private donations to more than 1,000 right-wing and libertarian groups. The fact Donors Trust has been able to quietly do so appears to explain why it exists: Wealthy donors can back the right-wing causes they want without attracting public scrutiny. Donors Trust is classified as a "donor-advised" fund under U.S. tax law, meaning its funders don’t have direct say in where their money goes. That in turn allows them to remain largely anonymous.
AMY GOODMAN: But the most detailed accounting to date shows Donors Trust funds a wish list of right-wing causes, prompting Mother Jones magazine to label it, quote, "the dark-money ATM of the right." Donors Trust recipients include the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a mechanism for corporate interests to help write state laws; the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a media outlet that unabashedly promotes right-wing causes; and the State Policy Network, a number of right-wing think tanks that push so-called "free-market" policies.
But the major focus of Donors Trust appears to be funding the denial of global warming. More than a third of Donors Trust donations—at least $146 million—has gone to think tanks and other groups that challenge the science of climate change. Later in the broadcast, we’ll take a closer look at that funding of climate change denial, but first we turn to an overview of Donors Trust and look at why it’s been able to evade public scrutiny until now. ...
Donors Trust: The ATM for climate denial
Theresa Riley BillMoyers.com USA February 21, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links and video interview (36:25).
According to Mother Jones and The Guardian newspaper, over the past decade, a little-known group called Donors Trust has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy contributors to a host of right-wing organizations, advocacy groups and think tanks. MJ‘s Andy Kroll dubs it the “dark-money ATM of the right” because of all the conservative campaigns the group had bankrolled. He writes:
Founded in 1999, Donors Trust (and an affiliated group, Donors Capital Fund) has raised north of $500 million and doled out $400 million to more than 1,000 conservative and libertarian groups, according to Whitney Ball, the group’s CEO. Donors Trust allows wealthy contributors who want to donate millions to the most important causes on the right to do so anonymously, essentially scrubbing the identity of those underwriting conservative and libertarian organizations.
The group bankrolled attacks on unions, public schools, regulating Wall Street and the veracity of global warming. ...
Smaller, less well-known groups also made out well. Goldenberg spotlights several that received major money from Donors Trust, including the Heartland Institute, which was given $13 million; and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (Cfact) which reported half its funding came from the trust. Cfact produces Climate Depot, a website that CJR reports “regularly publishes misinformation about climate change.”
Watch Suzanne Goldenberg talk with "Democracy Now!"‘s Amy Goodman about her report and the different organizations that have received Donor Trust funding.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Its a mad, mad world: Despite ongoing US drought, climate activists arrested
We all remember last summer globally. News reports today say just under 56 percent of the contiguous United States is in drought conditions, the most extensive area in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. When including the entire nation, the monitor found 46.84 percent of the land area meets criteria for various stages of drought.Posted at: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 09:50 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Good news, bad news continues for drought across U.S.
Daniel Yawitz Climate Center USA February 14, 2013
Visit this page for its U.S. Drought Monitor map (February 12, 2013) and its embedded links.
Thursday’s release of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor brought slivers of good news for some parts of the continental U.S., while more bad news for other regions.
Storms that swept across the Southeast over the past week made a significant dent in drought conditions, eradicating the areas of “exceptional” drought — the worst category. Those rains also led to significant reductions in areas of extreme, severe, and moderate drought across Alabama and North Carolina. And for the first time in more than a year, zero percent of Georgia was suffering from exceptional drought.
However, at the same time, drought expanded into southern Florida, and continued to persist across the rest of the county. ...
The same storms that brought much needed rain to the Southeast and Gulf Coast states also spawned severe thunderstorms, high wind and hail events, and at least 19 tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. The heavy, prolonged rains also led to flash flooding in some areas.
In much of the rest of the country, drought conditions remain dire. More than 55 percent of the lower 48 states are still under moderate drought conditions or worse, with the most severe impacts spread across the South, Great Plains and West. However, a few significant improvements were made. ...
Crop prices to fall as U.S. drought eases, economist says
Alan Bjerga Businessweek USA February 14, 2013
Corn and soybean crops devastated by the worst drought since the 1930s should recover this year, lowering prices, said Joe Glauber, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
With a return to normal yields, “a rebuilding of stocks and lower commodity prices would be expected in the fall,” Glauber said today at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. Wheat- and hay-producing areas remain in the grip of drought, while conditions have improved in much of the Corn Belt states further east, he said.
“Major questions related to persistent drought conditions remain,” he said. “It’s still very, very early” in the year for predictions.
Almost 56 percent of the contiguous 48 states were in drought as of the week ended Feb. 12, up from 38 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Dryness in the nation’s main crop-growing regions sent corn yields to their lowest since 1995 while ranchers slaughtered animals to cut costs, shrinking the cattle herd to its smallest since 1952. ...
Cattle disappearing amid drought signals beef rally: Commodities
Elizabeth Campbell Bloomberg USA February 14, 2013
Bill Donald, the third-generation owner of Cayuse Livestock Co., sold the calves he raised early last summer and cut purchases of cattle after pastures dried up. The herd grazing his land now is about 85 percent of normal.
“There’s a huge cattle country that is in need of quite a bit of moisture,” Donald, 60, the former president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said by telephone from his ranch near Melville, Montana. “It’s going to take a major change in the weather patterns.”
The worst U.S. drought since the 1930s is shrinking a cattle herd that’s already the smallest since 1952 and signaling tighter beef supplies and higher costs for restaurant owners. ...
Domestic beef output will drop to an eight-year low in 2013, and per-capita supplies will be the smallest since at least 1970, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Cattle futures in Chicago may rally to a record $1.3925 a pound this year, up 7.6 percent from yesterday’s close, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of five analysts. ...
Cattle in the U.S. are raised from birth on pastures for about a year, when they weigh 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to 800 pounds, and then are sold to feedlots. There, the animals consume mostly corn until they are 1,200 pounds to 1,350 pounds and are sold to slaughtering plants.
It may take years to rebuild the herd, said Donald, the Montana ranch owner. ...
Wheat prices may rise due to supply, U.S. drought
Sameer C. Mohindru MarketWatch USA February 13, 2013
SINGAPORE--Global wheat prices are close to bottoming out and may rise in coming months because of lingering drought in the U.S. and smaller crops in exporting countries including Australia and Russia and Argentina.
Higher prices would result in costlier imports by Asian countries, higher returns to growers and switching by animal-feed millers to relatively cheaper corn instead of wheat. ...
The U.S. drought is reflected in the widening premium HRW Kansas City Board of Trade wheat futures are commanding over soft wheat contracts on CBOT. KCBT wheat for July delivery has a premium of around 46 cents/bushel over the CBOT July contract, up from 15 cents five months ago.
This may widen further, to 70 cents in the second quarter of 2013, because of a revival in demand for U.S. wheat and tight global supply, says Paul Deane, Melbourne-based senior agricultural economist with ANZ Banking Group.
Adding to global supply problems is last summer's drought in the Black Sea region, which cut Ukrainian wheat output in the year ending June 2013 by 29% to 15.8 million tons and Russia's by 32% to 38 million tons, the London-based International Grains Council says.
In previous years, Argentina used to be a major exporter of wheat but production is now on the decline.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast Argentina's wheat output in 2013 will fall 29%. "Growers in Argentina are turning to more remunerative crops such as corn and soybeans," says FAO's Mr. Abbassian.
Australia Tuesday kept unchanged its forecast that its wheat export volumes will fall 15% in the current marketing year that started Oct. 1 as a result of lower output. ...
Nearly 50 climate activists arrested outside Obama's White House
Jon Queally Common Dreams USA February 13, 2013
Forty-eight individuals were arrested outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon as they urged President Obama to take a strong stand on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and embracing a clean energy future without fossil fuels.
Among the notable leaders involved in the civil disobedience were Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, which made news recently by declaring its leaders and membership would end an almost 120 year ban on participating in acts of civil disobedience. Large cheers went up in the gathered crowd of supporters as Brune was led away in handcuffs.
“For the first time in the Sierra Club’s 120-year history, we have joined the ranks of visionaries of the past and present to engage in civil disobedience, knowing that the issue at hand is so critical, it compels the strongest defensible action,” said Brune prior to his arrest. “We cannot afford to allow the production, transport, export and burning of the dirtiest oil on Earth via the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama must deny the pipeline and take decisive steps to address climate disruption, the most significant issue of our time.”
Other notable arrests included environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org; Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former president of the NAACP; and Daryl Hannah, an actress who has become well known for her climate activism from previous acts of civil disobedience in Washington and elsewhere.
After blocking the sidewalk in front of the White House—with some attaching themselves to the tall iron fence—and refusing to move when asked by Capitol Police, the activists were arrested one-by-one, handcuffed and led away.
“The threat to our planet’s climate is both grave and urgent,” said Julian Bond, who was among the last to be taken into custody. “Although President Obama has declared his own determination to act, much that is within his power to accomplish remains undone, and the decision to allow the construction of a pipeline to carry millions of barrels of the most-polluting oil on Earth from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. is in his hands. I am proud today to stand before my fellow citizens and declare, ‘I am willing to go to jail to stop this wrong.’ The environmental crisis we face today demands nothing less.” ...
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
As temperatures rise, agriculture, business, construction and infrastructure costs will follow; fortified by global warming, deadly fungus poisons corn crops; Wall Street makes big gains over food price spikes; and more
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. - US President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013Posted at: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 02:09 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Next year I intend to invite the leaders of the world, both individually and collectively, to mobilize the necessary political determination to adopt by 2015 a strong, complete and binding instrument on climate change. - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, January 23, 2013
Item: Audio: As temperatures rise, will costs follow?
"The Current" CBC Radio One Canada January 23, 2013
This page contains embedded links. You can listen to this segment of the program (23:58) from a pop-up link on the page.
A decade ago, the insurance industry's biggest payouts to homeowners were for fire or theft. But for the past five years or so, damage payouts related to heavy rain and high winds are more common, just one very concrete example of the consequences of rising temperatures. Today, we're asking about what's changing ... and what has to change in agriculture, business, construction and infrastructure to accommodate what Environment Canada says will be a hotter, wetter nation.
As temperatures rise, will costs follow? - Environment Canada
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. - U.S. President Barack Obama
Not many world leaders promise that kind of change in an inaugural address. But you don't have to be President of the United States to worry about extreme weather. In 2012, Canadians were soaked in floods, tossed about in hurricanes and watched the mercury rise.
Environment Canada keeps track of all the highs and lows and soon the agency will release new standards for what's "normal" across the country. New touchstones, that are released every ten years, show Canada is getting hotter and wetter - with average temperatures rising across the board. And the effects can especially be felt at this time of year.
In the last 65 years, the national winter time average temperature in Canada has risen 3.2 degrees. So don't be fooled by the Arctic system sweeping through most parts of the country and making the mighty Canada colder.
These warming trends affect the amount of extreme weather we endure. Experts predict Canada will experience more severe bouts of wind, rain and snow. To give us a better idea of the new normal, we were joined by David Phillips, Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada.
As temperatures rise, will costs follow? Gordon McBean & Sara Brown
If you need proof that the atypical weather is becoming typical, my next guest suggests: follow the money.
Gordon McBean is policy chair with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. We reached him in London, Ontario.
And Sara Brown is the CEO of The Northwest Territories Association of Communities and has been tracking the cost of fixing buildings and infrastructure that are being damaged by a melting permafrost. Sara Brown was in Yellowknife this morning.
This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.
Noted, CNN reports:
"Americans are divided over whether global warming is a man made phenomenon. ... 49% agree with the White House that global warming is a proven fact and is due to emissions from cars, power plants and factories. That's twice as high as the number who say that global warming has not been proven, as well as the 24% who say that it is a proven fact but is not due to manmade sources. But the 49% figure is down seven points from 2007.
Related: Fortified by global warming, deadly fungus poisons corn crops, causes cancer
Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato Scientific American USA January 15, 2013
Right: Aflatoxin contamination is a global food security issue. Grains like corn and cereals are well documented hosts of Aspergillus flavus, although the fungus is also found in oilseed, spices, tree nuts, groundnuts, milk, meat and dried fruit. Photo: Ewok Jorduman/Flickr
Last year’s drought increased the spread of a carcinogenic mold called aspergillus (Aspergillus flavus), a fungal pathogen that poisons cattle, kills pets and has infected the 2012 corn crop, rendering significant portions of the harvest unfit for consumption.
Whereas the deadly organism mainly affects countries like China and developing African nations, many U.S. states have experienced an increase in corn contamination since 2011. Farmers are likely to see more of the carcinogen as temperatures continue to rise and droughts become more frequent.
“It's really a climate variable issue,” says Barbara Stinson, founding and senior partner of Meridian Institute, a public policy organization. “We're probably looking at an increase in aflatoxin as a result of that.”
A. flavus releases toxic spores that can be fatal when ingested, prompting symptoms that include jaundice, liver cancer and internal bleeding. The poison is so deadly that in 1995 Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein confessed to weaponizing the mold spores for use in biological warfare. The high toxicity of the mold means crops with more than 20 parts per billion—the equivalent of about 100 kernels in a truckload of corn—can’t cross state lines, says Ronnie Heiniger, professor of cropping systems at North Carolina State University.
That’s bad news for the agricultural industry, which suffers annual losses of more than $190 million due to aspergillus. Last year the green-black mold contaminated more than half the corn harvested in Missouri by October. In contrast, only 8 percent of the 2011 crop suffered, according to the Missouri Grain Inspection Service.
“We have a big aflatoxin problem,” says Charles Woloshuk, a botanist and plant pathologist at Purdue University. “There are loads of corn coming to the [grain] elevators that have been rejected.”
Grains like corn and cereals are well documented hosts of aspergillus, although the fungus is also found in oilseed, spices, tree nuts, groundnuts, milk, meat and dried fruit—all staples on which a significant portion of the world’s population rely for sustenance. Drought conditions don’t cause the mold, but they do help speed its expansion. Unlike the fuzzy stuff that grows on bathroom tiles or in the back of the garage, A. flavus prefers hot, dry climes—precisely like the drought afflicting more than half the U.S. ...
Profiting off hunger: Wall Street makes big gains over food price spikes
RT Russia January 21, 2013
This item contains a graph, "The Food Crisis: Predictive validation of a quantitative model of food prices including speculators and ethanol conversion".
Powerful firms like Goldman Sachs have made hundreds of millions of dollars in food future trades. Critics accuse them of profiting off starvation and market manipulation, while traders claim their profits are due to increasing consumption in China.
World food prices tracked by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have more than doubled in the past 10 years. The FAO’s Food Price Index, which baskets prices for five prime food commodities, peaked in 2008 and 2011, each time rising more than 50 percent from the previous year. The latest price spike was one of the key factors that triggered the series of uprisings in the Arab world resulting in the fall of several governments.
The year 2013 may see another price hike, following the worst draught in the US in 50 years and poor harvests in Russia and Ukraine. The UN has warned that the world may be approaching a major hunger crisis.
At the same time, the industry is bringing millions in profits to those who rushed to invest in food. Goldman Sachs made an estimated $400 million in 2012 from investing its clients' money in a range of "soft commodities," from wheat and maize to coffee and sugar, according to an analysis by the World Development Movement (WDM).
"While nearly a billion people go hungry, Goldman Sachs bankers are feeding their own bonuses by betting on the price of food. Financial speculation is fueling food price spikes and Goldman Sachs is the No, 1 culprit," Christine Haigh of the WDM told the British newspaper The Independent.
The London-based organization – along with similar NGOs like Foodwatch, Oxfam, or Weed (World Economy, Ecology and Development) – have for years blamed financiers for inflating food prices, or for at least making the market dangerously volatile.
They argue that the amount of speculative money is too big in proportion to the physical inventories of the commodities. Deregulation in the late 1990s allowed financial institutions to bet on food prices, resulting in some $200 billion being poured into the market.
For example, hedge fund Armajaro virtually single-handedly sent the global price of cocoa to a 33-year high in July 2010 by buying around 15 percent of global cocoa stocks.
The overall effect of speculation on food prices is an issue of dispute. ...
Climate change could cause massive losses in Pyrenees ski resorts
Public release Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology Spain January 23, 2013
An increase in temperatures due to climate change could mean that the Andorran ski resorts have a shorter season in the future, especially in lower areas. A study undertaken by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Andorran Sustainability Observatory has analysed the specific case of the Pyrenean country and predicted that financial losses could come close to 50 million euros.
One of the major challenges when studying climate change effects is to establish the relationship between physical impacts and environmental changes on the one hand, and between these factors and impact on humans on the other hand.
An international study enjoying the participation of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia has investigated the particular case of Andorra and has demonstrated a predicted increase in temperatures as a result of climate change will shorten the ski season in the resorts of the principality.
Furthermore, depending on the predicted climate change scene, a fall in income has been predicted along with lesser adaptation capacity provided by snow production machines.
Published in the Climate Research journal, the study estimates a reduction in the number of skiers, especially in lower altitude resorts.
The mountain regions are considered especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. "The rapid decrease in glacier mass, quantity and frequency changes of snowfall, level variations and biodiversity distribution are examples of how mountain ecosystems are highly sensitive," as explained to SINC [Spain's Scientific Information and News Service (Servicio de Información y Noticias Científicas] by Marc Pons from the Sustainability Measuring and Modelling Laboratory of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Andorran Sustainability Observatory and coauthor of the study.
Andorra is a small country in the middle of the Pyrenees between France and Spain with a population of approximately 80,000 inhabitants. It receives 10 million tourists each year according to data from Andorra Turisme 2010, especially during the winter season. Snow tourism is one of its main sources of income used for local development. ...
Massive melting of Andes glaciers
BBC News UK January 23, 2013
The tropical glaciers are melting at their fastest rate in 300 years. Some scientists say the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia, which used to be the world's highest ski run, has already nearly disappeared. This item links to the report.
Glaciers in the tropical Andes have shrunk by 30-50% since the 1970s, according to a study.
The glaciers, which provide fresh water for tens of millions in South America, are retreating at their fastest rate in the past 300 years.
The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers and blamed the melting on an average temperature rise of 0.7C from 1950-1994.
Details appear in the academic journal Cryosphere.
The authors report that glaciers are retreating everywhere in the tropical Andes, but the melting is more pronounced for small glaciers at low altitudes.
Glaciers at altitudes below 5,400m have lost about 1.35m in ice thickness per year since the late 1970s, twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers.
"Because the maximum thickness of these small, low-altitude glaciers rarely exceeds 40 metres, with such an annual loss they will probably completely disappear within the coming decades," said lead author Antoine Rabatel, from the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France.
The researchers also say there was little change in the amount of rainfall in the region over the last few decades and so could not account for changes in glacier retreat.
Without changes in rainfall, the region could face water shortages in the future, the scientists say.
The Santa River valley in Peru could be most affected; its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants rely heavily on glacier water for agriculture, domestic consumption, and hydropower.
Large cities, such as La Paz in Bolivia, could also face problems. "Glaciers provide about 15% of the La Paz water supply throughout the year, increasing to about 27% during the dry season," said co-author Alvaro Soruco from the Institute of Geological and Environmental Investigations in Bolivia. ...
UN head vows to push for climate-change deal
The Age Australia Dateline January 24, 2013
UN leader Ban Ki-moon says he will press world leaders to agree to a binding deal against climate warming by 2015.
There has to be a ''strong, complete and binding'' accord, Mr Ban, who has stepped up warnings in recent months over the impact of accelerating temperature increases, told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
A UN conference in Doha last month extended the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding pact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, until 2020. But the accord excludes major polluters such as China, India and the United States, which refuses to ratify Kyoto.
Mr Ban said mobilising action on climate change was now a "priority".
"Next year I intend to invite the leaders of the world, both individually and collectively, to mobilise the necessary political determination to adopt by 2015 a strong, complete and binding instrument on climate change," he said. ...
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
As Australia burns, attitudes are changing. But is it too late?
The unprecedented conditions of recent weeks have seen many Australians rethinking their attitude to climate change. - Tim Flannery, an Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist and global warming activist. He is the Chief Commissioner of the Australian Climate Commission, an independent body providing information on climate change to the Australian public. Flannery has achieved a prominence through his environmental activism. His advocacy on two issues in particular, population levels and carbon emissions, culminated in being named Australian of the Year at a time when environmental issues were becoming prominent in Australian public debate. He is a member of the World Future Council. (In 2009, Flannery joined the project "Soldiers of Peace", a move against all wars and for a global peace.)Posted at: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 07:19 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Meanwhile the acting leader of the (conservative) opposition, Warren Truss, said it was simplistic to link the hot spell to climate change, and "utterly simplistic to suggest that we have these fires because of climate change". ... Now, more than ever, we're in a race against time to avoid a truly catastrophic outcome. - Tim Flannery,
As Australia burns, attitudes are changing. But is it too late?
Tim Flannery Guardian UK January 11, 2013
‘Large parts of the continent will be uninhabitable, not just by humans but by Australia's spectacular biodiversity as well.' Illustration: Phil Disley
This summer, life in Australia resembles a compulsory and very unpleasant game of Russian roulette. A pool of hot air more than 1,000 miles wide has formed across the inland. It covers much of the continent, and has proved astonishingly persistent. Periodically, low pressure systems spill the heat towards the coast, where most Australians live. At Christmas it was Perth. Then the heat struck Adelaide, followed by Tasmania, Victoria, and southern New South Wales and Canberra. Over this weekend, it's southern Queensland and northern New South Wales that look set to face the gun. And with every heatwave, the incidences of bushfires and heat-related deaths and injuries spike.
Australians are used to hot summers. We normally love them. But the conditions prevailing now are something new. Temperature records are being broken everywhere. At Leonora, in the Western Australian interior, it reached 49C this week – the national high – and just one record temperature among many. The nation's overall temperature record was set on 7 January. Then the following day that record was exceeded, by half a degree celsius.
The breaking of so many temperature records indicates that Australia's climate is shifting. This is supported by analysis of the long-term trend. Over the past 40 years we've seen a decline in the number of very cold days, and the occurrence of many more very hot days. All of this was predicted by climate scientists decades ago, and is consistent with the increasing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.
The new conditions have seen the Bureau of Meteorology add two new colour categories to Australia's weather prediction maps. Temperatures of 48-50C used to be the highest, and where such extremes were anticipated, the weather map was marked black. Over the last week, purple patches have begun to appear on some maps. They mark temperatures above 50C. Pink, which is yet to be deployed, will denote temperatures above 52C.
Climate extremes have a way of stacking up to produce unpleasant consequences. Two years ago, the ocean temperature off northwestern Australia reached a record high, and evaporation of the warm seawater led to Australia's wettest year on record. This was followed, in central Australia, by the longest period without rain on record. The vegetation that had thrived in the wet now lies dried and curing, a perfect fuel for fires.
With abundant fuel and increased temperatures, the nature of bushfires is changing. ...
Friday, January 4, 2013
It’s time to stop spinning our wheels on climate change
Over and over, the economy has determined the extent of our response, but how much value does it place on breathable air, drinkable water, edible food and stable weather and climate? Surely the economy is the means to a better future, not an end in itself. Surely it must be subordinate to a rich, diverse ecosphere that sustains all life. Let’s hope this year ushers in a new way of living on and caring for our planet. - David Suzuki, a well-known Canadian scientist, broadcaster and environmental activist.Posted at: Friday, January 04, 2013 - 06:44 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
It’s time to stop spinning our wheels on climate change
David Suzuki Common Dreams USA January 3, 2013
Photo: Kenny Teo/zoompict via Flickr
In 1988, hundreds of scientists and policy-makers met in Toronto for a major international conference on climate change. They were sufficiently alarmed by the accumulated evidence for human-caused global warming that they issued a release stating,“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.”
They urged world leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2005. Had we heeded that warning and embarked on a campaign to meet the target, Canadians would now be healthier (because of reduced air pollution), have greater reserves of energy and more jobs. We’d also be a world leader in renewable energy and could have saved tens of billions of dollars.
The year was significant for environmentalists. In 1988, George H.W. Bush ran for the highest office in the U.S. and promised to be an “environmental president”. He didn’t have a green bone in his body, but public pressure compelled him to make a commitment he ultimately didn’t keep. That year, Margaret Thatcher was filmed picking up litter. She turned to the camera and said, “I’m a greenie, too.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was also re-elected in 1988. He appointed a bright new political star, Lucien Bouchard, as environment minister. I asked Bouchard during an interview what he considered to be our most important environmental issue. “Global warming,” he responded. I continued: “How serious is it?” His answer: “It threatens the survival of our species. We have to act now.”
In 1988, the environment was a top public concern, scientists spoke out and politicians said the right things. Global warming was a pressing and present issue. Now, 25 years later, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and we’re already seeing the consequences – more extreme weather events, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, rising sea levels, reduced water flows in rivers and climate-related illness and death, among others. It’s driven in part by rapid economic growth in countries like China, India and Brazil. At the same time, most industrialized nations, whose use of fossil fuels created the problem of excess greenhouse gases, have done little to reduce emissions. ...
Related audio: David Suzuki's Andean adventure
"The Current" CBC Radio One Canada January 4, 2013
You can listen to this segment of the show (24 minutes) from a pop-up link on this page.
Dr. David Suzuki has, for years, brought his own appreciation of the value of nature to Canadians. Now, he's gone on what he's calling an Andean adventure. Suzuki has taken a closer look at what he says are new ideas and new ways to value nature in both Ecuador and Bolivia. Often provocative, always enlightening, this time Suzuki tells of a place where nature has constitutional rights and where a government is urging the world to pay to keep a rainforest untouched.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Here on Salt Spring Island, celebration! December solstice, the return of the light
Happy Winter Solstice to all our visitors. It is the winter solstice only in the northern hemisphere The winter solstice is the solstice that occurs in winter. It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year. In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.Posted at: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 07:20 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen.
The winter solstice occured today, December 21, 2012, at 11:12 UTC.
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. he UTC standard was officially standardized in 1961 by the International Radio Consultative Committee, having been initiated by several national time laboratories. Today, time zones around the world are expressed as positive or negative offsets from UTC, as in the list of time zones by UTC offset.
UTC is based on International Atomic Time (TAI), a time standard calculated using a weighted average of signals from atomic clocks located in nearly 70 national laboratories around the world. The only difference between the two is that UTC is occasionally adjusted by adding a leap second in order to keep it within one second of UT1, which is defined by the Earth's rotation. In the 41 years up to and including 2012, a total of 25 leap seconds have been added; the most recent was added on 30 June 2012.
UTC is the time standard used for many internet and World Wide Web standards. The Network Time Protocol, designed to synchronise the clocks of computers over the Internet, encodes times using the UTC system. Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC.
UTC is also the time standard used in aviation, e.g., for flight plans and air traffic control clearances. Weather forecasts and maps all use UTC to avoid confusion about time zones and daylight saving time.
Amateur radio operators often schedule their radio contacts in UTC, because transmissions on some frequencies can be picked up by many timezones.
Items: Below: Phil Plait, the creator of the Bad Astronomy blog, is an astronomer, lecturer, and author. After ten years working on Hubble Space Telescope data and six more working on astronomy education, he struck out on his own as a writer.
Happy Winter Solstice!
Phil Plait Slate, Bad Astronomy blog USA December 21, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links and graphics.
I’ve been saying that today’s date is meaningless when it comes to doomsdays, which is true. But it does have astronomical significance, and for Northern Hemisphereans it’s a happy one: Today, at 11:12 UTC (06:12 Eastern time) it was officially the winter solstice. That means the nights are getting shorter, the days longer, and that half of winter is behind us.
There are a lot of different ways to describe this. ...
Today, the Northern Hemisphere was tipped as far away from the Sun as it gets: the winter solstice.
But that’s a good thing! Every day for the next six months, we’ll slowly round the Sun and have our axis point more toward it. The Sun will get higher, the days longer and warmer.
That’s why ancient civilizations celebrated the solstice. It meant the return of the Sun and warmer days ahead. While in the United States we tend to call this the first day of winter, I think it’s more like the halfway mark. After all, the past six weeks the Sun has been getting lower in the sky, and for the next six it gets higher. The solstice is the midway point between those two, so for me it makes more sense to call this midwinter’s day; the midpoint of winter.
And I can’t help but mention this: The end-of-the-world crowd really screwed this one up. For ancient peoples this wasn’t a day for doom and gloom! It was generally a day to be happy, to celebrate. And I suppose it still is. We have a far greater understanding of astronomy now, and how the Earth interacts with the Universe around it. And we still get to enjoy the idea that warmer days are afoot.
It’s the best of both—of all—worlds.
Winter Solstice: Crazy ways we mark shortest day
Becky Oskin LiveScience.com/Yahoo! News USA December 21, 2012
In Fairbanks, Alaska, it's possible for office workers without a window view to never see the sun during December — except for weekends.
As the month with the shortest days of the year, the sun rises and sets in December while most people sit at their desks.
That's why residents go all out to mark the winter solstice, when the days shift from losing sunlight to gaining sunlight. This year, the town even funded its own fireworks display through Kickstarter. (Fireworks are better enjoyed during the winter darkness than in July's bright summer nights.)
Celebrating the shortest day of the year is a ritual that dates back thousands of years. Stonehenge appears laid out in alignment with the winter solstice sunset, and Newgrange in Ireland, a prehistoric tomb, opens to the winter solstice sunrise. ...
High-latitude cultures around the world marked the passing with festivals, feasts and tales of gods and ghosts rising from darkness. Some of the rituals have passed into history. The pagan Slavic holiday of Korochun, celebrated on winter solstice, was more like Halloween: Evil spirits were at their most powerful on this night, until the new sun was resurrected and defeated them. Others remain with us today, in full or in bits and pieces. Here are some examples: ...
Let us not forget, in this upside down world, our southern cousins. A sampling:
Aymara people attend the sunrise of the summer solstice ceremony in La Apacheta, El Alto in the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia on June 21, 2011. The solstice also coincides with the Aymara Indian New Year. Photo: Gaston Brito/Reuters
Inti Raymi (Inca: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador)
The Inti Raymi or "Festival of the Sun" was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the solstice and a new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. One ceremony performed by the Inca priests was the tying of the sun. In Machu Picchu there is still a large column of stone called an Intihuatana, meaning "hitching post of the sun" or literally for tying the sun. The ceremony to tie the sun to the stone was to prevent the sun from escaping. The Spanish conquest, never finding Machu Picchu, destroyed all the other intihuatana, extinguishing the sun tying practice. The Catholic Church managed to suppress all Inti festivals and ceremonies by 1572. Since 1944 a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Sacsayhuamán (one mile or two km from Cusco) on June 24 of each year, attracting thousands of local visitors and tourists. The Monte Alto culture in the southern-most area of Mesoamerica may have also had a similar tradition.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
US voices addressing 'climate change/global warming'
Global warming's terrifying new mathPosted at: Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 06:00 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Bill McKibben Rolling Stone USA July 19, 2012
If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the "largest temperature departure from average of any season on record." The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet's history.
Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world's nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn't even attend. It was "a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago," the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls "once thronged by multitudes." Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.
When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn't yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers. ...
Geoengineering expert: Tinkering with climate is tempting, also ‘kind of insane’
Ellis Robinson and Daniel Tkacik Grist USA December 12, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links and audio interview.
The thermostat. What an invention! Your house gets too hot, just crank the thermostat down a few degrees and you’re good to go.
Now, what if we could put a thermostat on our too-hot planet?
As it happens, we could. A few billion dollars is all it would take to deploy a version of solar-radiation management (SRM), a form of geoengineering that would seed the stratosphere with reflective aerosols, creating a sort of sunshade for the planet.
The idea has been bouncing around at least since the 1960s, when advisers to President Lyndon Johnson suggested SRM to reflect sunlight back into space as a method for managing the climate. Heck, “fixing the sky” dates back to the Greek mythology of Phaeton and Helios. The thermostat idea is not new; we just keep coming up with shiny-new models.
One of the leading proponents of studying SRM and other geoengineering strategies is Granger Morgan, a researcher and the director of the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making at Carnegie Mellon University. Morgan has been studying SRM since the early 1990s, and he says it should be approached with a great deal of caution.
“Your reaction that (geoengineering) is kind of insane is a healthy reaction,” Morgan told us. “It’s the reaction that anyone with their head screwed on straight has almost immediately.”
Even so, he says, it’s something we need to understand. Increasingly, geoengineering strategies are being openly discussed in scientific and policy circles as a hypothetical option for dealing with a runaway rise in global temperatures. And there’s a certain logic to it: If you knew that in two years all Arctic ice would melt without an immediate geoengineering intervention, what would you do?
The public is becoming more aware of geoengineering, too — and some scientists are test-driving it on their own. This fall, controversial scientist-entrepreneur Russ George, working with Haida Salmon Restoration Group, dumped 100 tons of iron sulfate into the ocean off the coast of British Columbia. Their aim was to spark a phytoplankton bloom, providing food for salmon and sequestering carbon dioxide at the ocean’s bottom.
Would world leaders ever decide to try geoengineering on a planetary scale? Some experts think not — that the ethical, moral, and political complications posed by the idea are insurmountable [PDF]. But others, such as Granger Morgan, are not so sure. He’s also aware that the price tag isn’t big enough to dissuade a single country — China, say, where massive cities are rising along the coasts — from acting unilaterally. That’s even more reason to understand the consequences, intended and otherwise.
In our interview, below, Morgan explains the science behind geoengineering, the possible unintended side effects, the limitations, and the ethical and moral dimensions of tinkering with the Earth’s thermostat.
Below: "We need a fresh approach to defend the public interest. Our country faces a far-right Republican Party that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, and a Democratic Party whose leadership is enmeshed with corporate power. RootsAction is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars. ..."
What about the climate cliff?
RootsAction USA 2012
The "fiscal cliff" is a fictional abstraction. The looming climate catastrophe is anything but.
Asked at his first post-election press conference what steps he would take about climate change, President Obama was vague if not dismissive.
"I don’t know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point," he said. "I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that."
We have a proposal: investment in green energy jobs that both provide income and protect our natural environment.
And we know where to find the money. The same dollars invested in green energy produce 67% more jobs than when invested in the military.
Our choice is between jobs and wars, not jobs and the earth.
Tell the President and Congress to focus on the climate cliff before it's too late.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Destroying biodiversity—shame on us. Iowa cornfields: A world denuded
Science is only slowly catching up with biodiversity, partly thanks to the great US biologist EO Wilson, who, apart from studying ants, has best communicated the interlocking mechanisms of life. "When you thrust a shovel into the soil or tear off a piece of coral, you are, godlike, cutting through an entire world. You have crossed a hidden frontier known to very few. Immediately close at hand, around and beneath our feet, lies the least explored part of the planet's surface. It is also the most vital place on Earth for human existence," he says.... - John Vidal reportingPosted at: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 07:44 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
A world of life in a single cubic foot
John Vidal The Observer UK November 11, 2012
Long live the creepy crawlies, the bugs, the tiny wigglers and wrigglers, the minuscule parasites and nematodes, the mites and oribatids and all the myriad life forms that buzz, crawl and throb below our feet. Most have barely been given a second thought by science, but biologists now think that these mostly named creatures make up the beating heart of the biosphere and that the fate of all life may depend on the wellbeing of their fragile worlds.
Thanks to photographer David Liittschwager, we now have a visual inkling of what exactly lives high in the cloud forest canopy, below our feet in the parks, in the sediments of rivers and on coral reefs. Liittschwager, primarily a portrait photographer, had the idea of taking a one-cubic-foot metal frame and recording what moved through this habitat over the course of a day and night. He then made portraits of the life that could be seen with the naked eye.
What was found even in fairly nondescript places was wondrous. When the metal frame was dropped in the Duck river in Tennessee, it recorded 32 fish species, and nearly 100 others in the day. "Dig a few handfuls of sediment from the bottom and the river's significance begins to reveal itself. Half of what you hold in your hands is sand and gravel, and the rest is live species – mussels, snails, juvenile crayfish, the larvae of stoneflies and dragonflies. It seems possible that the driving force of planetary life is actually very small and that its intricacies are lost on most of us," author Alan Huffman remarks in an essay accompanying the pictures. ...
Earth, says Wilson, is the only planet we know that has a biosphere. "It alone is able to maintain the exact environment we ourselves need to stay alive. If all the organisms were to disappear from any one of the cubic spaces depicted, the environment in it would shift to a radical new state. The molecules of the soil or streambed would become smaller and simpler. The ratios of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases in the air would change. A new equilibrium would be approached, at which the cubic foot would resemble that on some distant sterile planet."
A small world, says Liittschwager, awaits exploration. "In time, we will come fully to appreciate the magnificent little ecosystems that have fallen under our stewardship." Unless, of course, we leave it too late.
Cornstalks everywhere but nothing else, not even a bee
Robert Krulwich National Public Radio USA November 30, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links, charts and photos.
We'll start in a cornfield — we'll call it an Iowa cornfield in late summer — on a beautiful day. The corn is high. The air is shimmering. There's just one thing missing — and it's a big thing...
...a very big thing, but I won't tell you what, not yet.
Instead, let's take a detour. We'll be back to the cornfield in a minute, but just to make things interesting, I'm going to leap halfway around the world to a public park near Cape Town, South Africa, where you will notice a cube, a metal cube, lying there in the grass.
Photo: David Liittschwager
That cube was put there by David Liittschwager, a portrait photographer, who spent a few years traveling the world, dropping one-cubic-foot metal frames into gardens, streams, parks, forests, oceans, and then photographing whatever, or whoever came through. Beetles, crickets, fish, spiders, worms, birds — anything big enough to be seen by the naked eye he tried to capture and photograph. Here's what he found after 24 hours in his Cape Town cube: ...
Which brings me back to Iowa, where my NPR colleague, commentator and science writer Craig Childs, decided to have a little adventure. As he tells it in his new book, he recruited a friend, Angus, and together they agreed to spend two nights and three days ("We'll call it a long weekend") smack in the middle of a 600-acre farm in Grundy County. Their plan was to settle in amongst the stalks (there are an "estimated three trillion" of them in Iowa) to see what's living there, other than corn. In other words, a Liittschwager-like census.
Cornfields, however, are not like national parks or virgin forests. Corn farmers champion corn. Anything that might eat corn, hurt corn, bother corn, is killed. Their corn is bred to fight pests. The ground is sprayed. The stalks are sprayed again. So, like David, Craig wondered, "What will I find?" ...
The answer amazed me. He found almost nothing. "I listened and heard nothing, no bird, no click of insect."
There were no bees. The air, the ground, seemed vacant. He found one ant "so small you couldn't pin it to a specimen board." A little later, crawling to a different row, he found one mushroom, "the size of an apple seed." (A relative of the one pictured below.) Then, later, a cobweb spider eating a crane fly (only one). A single red mite "the size of a dust mote hurrying across the barren earth," some grasshoppers, and that's it. Though he crawled and crawled, he found nothing else.
"It felt like another planet entirely," he said, a world denuded.
Yet, 100 years ago, these same fields, these prairies, were home to 300 species of plants, 60 mammals, 300 birds, hundreds and hundreds of insects. This soil was the richest, the loamiest in the state. And now, in these patches, there is almost literally nothing but one kind of living thing. We've erased everything else. ...
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Marking American Thanksgiving: How processed food contributes to massive rainforest destruction and environmental damage & This is your Thanksgiving on climate change—if the globe continues to warm, that holiday spread could end up looking quite paltry
The Standard American Diet, also referred to as the Western pattern diet, looked a lot different a few hundred years ago. People mostly consumed fruits, vegetables, wild grains and seeds, fish and occasionally meat. Today many Americans gorge on sugars, refined flour and processed food. This selection of events tracks the devolution of the American diet. - Timeline of the Standard American Diet, July 23, 2011Posted at: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 02:35 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Below: Since the Standard American Diet consists largely of processed, factory-farmed foods that are loaded with various derivatives of soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and wheat, Americans as a whole are contributing, albeit indirectly, to the devastating consequences of cash crop plantations.
How processed food contributes to massive rainforest destruction and environmental damage
Jonathan Benson Natural News USA November 17, 2012
Visit this page for its appended links.
When considering the various factors that are most responsible for widespread environmental pollution and ecosystem destruction in today's world, most people probably envision things like industrial manufacturing facilities spilling chemicals into nearby waterways, coal-fired power plants billowing plumes of black smoke into the blue sky, and thousands of miles of major highways occupied by millions of gas-guzzling, fume-emitting vehicles. It turns out, though, that agriculture, at least the industrialized type, is actually one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of the planet in the modern times.
All across the globe, large swaths of otherwise pristine rainforests and jungles are literally being clear-cut and turned into mega-plantations for growing major cash crops like soy, corn, canola, and wheat, all of which are used to formulate various ingredients and additives used throughout the processed food supply. In other words, there is big money to be made in growing such crops precisely because their derivatives are added to almost every type of processed food available -- and in the eyes of the unscrupulous opportunist, rainforests and other natural habitats are merely inconvenient obstacles to be defeated, rather than natural treasures.
Since the Standard American Diet (SAD) consists largely of processed, factory-farmed foods that are loaded with various derivatives of soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and wheat, Americans as a whole are also contributing, albeit indirectly, to the devastating consequences of cash crop plantations. These consequences including things like soil erosion, water contamination, deforestation, and poverty.
Avoiding conventional meat and dairy products, and instead choosing local and organic alternatives, is one way to help fight deforestation. Steering clear of foods that contain ingredients derived from conventional soy, corn, cotton, canola, and wheat is another way to "vote with your wallet" against environmental mismanagement and destruction.
And then, of course, there is the public health issue. Mark Bittman asked last year: "What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.) ... And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs. Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem. Their mission is not public health but profit, so they’ll continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. ..." See "Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables".
Below: How will your turkey-day staples fare in a warming world?
This is your Thanksgiving on climate change
Mother Jones USA November 19, 2012
Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about bounty, right? Cornucopias? Tables groaning with goodies?
Sure—for now. But (holiday buzzkill alert!) if the globe continues to warm, that Turkey Day spread could end up looking quite paltry. In honor of everyone's favorite day of feasting, here's a preview: ...
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
24 Hours of Climate Change
24 Hours of RealityPosted at: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 05:24 PM -- Posted by: ccsmith -- Permalink: (#)
Millions joined us on November 14-15 for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. Broadcast live on the Internet with more than 16 million views from around the world, we brought the world together to spread the truth about climate change and voice an urgent call for solutions.
Taking place over 24 hours, this event put a spotlight on every region of the globe — featuring news, voices, and multimedia content across all 24 time zones. We heard from experts, musicians, comedians, advocates, and everyday people about the impact of climate change on their lives and homes.
Leading the event was our Founder and Chairman, former Vice President Al Gore, who concluded with a special presentation about the impacts of Dirty Energy and Dirty Weather.
We invite you to browse our videos from 24 Hours of Reality, hear from our inspiring panels, and share with your friends. Sign our pledge demanding that our leaders work toward solutions to the climate crisis. Join us as we unite with one voice in support of a clean energy future.
World Bank: "4°C Warming Simply Must Not Be Allowed To Occur"
By Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones| Mon Nov. 19, 2012 3:13 PM PST
The noted tree-hugging hippies at the World Bank have a new report out warning of the dangers of 4 degrees Celsius—or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit—of global warming.
In an introduction, World Bank president Dr. Jim Yong Kim writes that he hopes the report "shocks us into action." The impacts of 4-degree warming cited in the report include:
Will BC break its own GHG emissions law?
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, October 10, 2012
In 2007 the BC government legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), but just five years later, the province’s 2012 Natural Gas Strategy risks breaking that legislation. Our latest report, BC’s Legislated Greenhouse Gas Targets vs Natural Gas Development: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, finds that escalated natural gas production and export will make it impossible to meet reduction targets for 2020. And not only is the natural gas industry harmful for the climate, but it creates few permanent jobs and lower and lower royalties for government as market prices continue to fall.