Global Warming News StoriesExcerpts of Key Global Warming News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of global warming news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
President Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to shelve aggressive vehicle fuel economy targets that have been a foundation for battles against climate change and harmful pollution in California and across the country. The regulations to be reviewed ... had set ambitious targets for vehicle mileage. The decision puts the White House on a path toward a direct and costly confrontation with California. State officials, pointing to California’s unique authority under the Clean Air Act, have made clear they will not waver from requiring passenger cars to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025, up from an average of 36 miles per gallon today. Trump’s announcement comes amid a lobbying blitz from a coalition of the world’s largest vehicle makers, which complained in a letter to the new administration that the existing EPA rules place unreasonable and expensive demands on the industry. The ultimate fate of the regulations may now be decided in a legal brawl between California and the Trump administration. The state is already moving to defend the federal regulations in court. "Any weakening or delay of the national standards will result in increased harms to our natural resources, our economy, and our people,” reads a legal filing submitted Tuesday by the state. Under the Clean Air Act, the state can impose emissions standards stronger than those set by the federal government, and a dozen other states have embraced the California rules.
Note: Many believe that fuel efficiency is determined by marketplace demand for more efficient vehicles. As this article shows, this is not the case. Congress mandates the average mpg of vehicles sold, and industry must comply. For more, see this essay.
The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 19th century as coal use continues to plummet, analysis suggests. Emissions of the major greenhouse gas fell almost 6% year on year in 2016, after the use of coal for electricity more than halved to record lows, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy. The assessment suggests carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381m tonnes, putting the UK’s carbon pollution at its lowest level ... since 1894. Carbon emissions in 2016 are about 36% below the reference year of 1990, against which legal targets to cut climate pollution are measured. Emissions of carbon dioxide from coal fell 50% in 2016 as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52%, contributing to an overall drop in carbon output of 5.8% last year compared with 2015, Carbon Brief said. The assessment reveals that coal use has fallen by 74% in just a decade. UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas, a hike in carbon taxes on the highly polluting fuel, expansion of renewables, dropping demand for energy overall and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015. While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity – although use of gas remains well below highs seen in the 2000s. Gas use for home and business heating has been falling for a decade, thanks to more insulation and efficient boilers.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. Shell’s 28-minute film, called Climate of Concern ... warned of extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world. A separate 1986 report, marked “confidential” and also seen by the Guardian, notes: “The changes may be the greatest in recorded history.” The predictions in the 1991 film for temperature and sea level rises and their impacts were remarkably accurate. Shell was one of the first major oil companies to accept the reality and dangers of climate change. But, despite this early and clear-eyed view of the risks of global warming, Shell invested many billions of dollars in highly polluting tar sand operations and on exploration in the Arctic. It also cited fracking as a “future opportunity” in 2016, despite its own 1998 data showing exploitation of unconventional oil and gas was incompatible with climate goals. Shell ... is estimated to have spent $22m in 2015 lobbying against climate policies, [and] has also been a member of industry lobby groups that have fought climate action. Another oil giant, Exxon Mobil, is under investigation ... for allegedly misleading investors about the risks climate change posed to its business. In early 2016, a group of congressmen asked the Department of Justice to also “investigate whether Shell’s actions around climate change violated federal law”.
At this week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment, 17 EPA employees were no-shows – and not by choice. The agency had planned to send 34 staff members to the week-long conference. But after the White House transition team demanded cutbacks, the Environmental Protection Agency only allowed half to attend. The EPA’s announcement comes after months of criticism by President Trump and his advisors, and a paring-down of climate science on government websites. Regardless of the motives behind this particular action, it continues a years-long trend of cuts to government agencies’ travel funds. Scientific research, which involves a regular exchange of ideas and findings, has been hit especially hard. The federal government faced major pressure to curb travel spending in 2012, when an Inspector General’s report revealed that the General Services Administration had spent more than $820,000 on a lavish conference in Las Vegas. The Office of Management and Budget promptly issued a memo directing each federal agency to spend 30 percent less on travel than it had in 2010. This week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment wasn’t exclusively for scientists. In addition to federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it featured military personnel and representatives from Alaska’s state, local, and tribal governments. Its panels addressed topics such as climate change, oil spills, and hazardous waste, which have both science and public policy aspects.
Donald Trump’s administration has appeared to ban at least three Government agencies from speaking to journalists, providing documents to the public or even tweeting. Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency staff are all reportedly subject to gagging orders. As well as the prohibition of social media posts ... the EPA has been ordered to freeze all grants, contracts and other agreements until further notice. A memo sent to EPA staff said there should be no press releases sent to “external audiences” and that “no social media will be going out”. The letter ... also says that a digital strategist will be drafted in to oversee the agency’s social media and that “existing, individually controlled social-media accounts may become more centrally controlled”. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ... employees were told not to publish any new documents or correspondence in any public forum, including the Federal Register, and not to discuss any documents or rules with public officials until it is reviewed by the administration. Staff at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service received a memo on Monday telling them not to provide any documents to the public including press releases and social media. The email told employees, including about 2,000 staff scientists, that “starting immediately and until further notice”, they could not release any documents or post on social media.
Solar energy is now cheaper than traditional fossil fuels. Solar and wind is now either the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The influential foundation has described the change as a "tipping point" that could make fighting climate change into a profitable form of business for energy companies. But investors and energy firms are still failing to put money into such green solutions despite the fact that they are cheaper than more traditional forms of electricity generation. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum. Just ten years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per MWh, and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But ... today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind. The cheap price of solar and wind energy is already encouraging companies to build more plants to harvest it. The US is adding about 125 solar panels every minute ... and investment in renewables in 2015 rose to $286 billion, up 5 per cent from the year before. Even despite that cheap price ... the worldwide investment is only 25 per cent of the $1 trillion goal set in the landmark Paris climate change accord.
Note: Why are most of the media in the US hardly reporting this inspiring news at all? Read more on this great news in this informative essay.
The latest batch of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees are poised to reshape not only the nation, but also the planet. The man tapped to be America’s chief diplomat is a trusted friend of Russia, the nation’s longtime geopolitical rival. The man tapped to lead the Department of Energy has long pledged to kill it. Russia [awarded him] its Order of Friendship in 2013, one of the highest awards Moscow gives foreigners. The man nominated to shepherd the Labor Department opposes raising the minimum wage. And Trump’s nominees to run the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior and Energy are dubious about the science behind climate change. Trump tapped these men — most of his nominees are wealthy, white men — because they are top “deal-makers.” And while they may not be creatures of Washington, they are still part of the nation’s elite and a far cry from Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of entrenched power-brokers. “It’s a cabinet of tycoons,” said Eleni Kounalakis, a San Francisco business executive who served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. “He believes business tycoons know what’s best. Like what’s best for Exxon is best for America.”
Law enforcement officials announced last spring that they were pursuing fraud investigations against the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil. “Fossil fuel companies ... deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change,” [Attorney General Maura] Healey said at the time. Now those words are being used against Healey, in a lawsuit filed by ExxonMobil. In a stunning offense-is-the-best-defense legal strategy, the company is ... saying the Massachusetts Democrat’s investigation violates their free speech and other constitutional rights. In its legal battle to shut down her investigation, ExxonMobil has demanded that she testify about her efforts and provide documents from her office. Healey contends the corporate response is unprecedented: Not only is [ExxonMobil] refusing to comply, it is demanding an investigation of the investigating agency. “They took the tack of trying to shut down this investigation by suing us,” she said. When Healey issued subpoenas seeking ExxonMobil’s documents on climate change dating to the 1970s, she was “abusing the power of government to silence a speaker she disfavors,” lawyers for ExxonMobil wrote in their June lawsuit against her, alleging a violation of the company’s rights. And they criticized the stories that prompted the investigation: Reports published in 2015 ... suggested ExxonMobil had encouraged climate change confusion for years, despite its own research documenting the risks.
Johan Eliasch is finding himself in the news a lot these days. Just over a week ago it emerged that this Swedish-born tycoon ... had bought 400,000 acres of the Amazonian rainforest, an area the size of Greater London. He bought it, he said, to save it, to preserve its plants and wildlife - and, by preserving old-growth forest, to do his bit towards counteracting rising CO2 levels. Eliasch's response to the issue of global warming and the devastation of habitats is unusual, but it is not isolated. Paul van Klissingen, owner of Calor gas, has spent Ł15m on land in Africa. Kris McDivitt, former head of Patagonia clothing, and her husband Doug Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face, own 2m acres in Chile and Argentina. George Soros and Luciano Benetton own 1m and 2m acres of South America respectively. The idea is to step in where local governments, for whatever reason, have failed, or have more pressing issues to deal with, to buy up the land and lock it down by banning logging, sometimes establishing wildlife parks. Eliasch has been thinking about environmental issues for a long time, he says. When he was growing up in Stockholm he used to be able to walk out of his front door and ski from late October until April. "Today in Stockholm, you can't ski at all." I ask what [it feels] like to own so much rainforest? A slight laugh. "It's something very precious. It's a responsibility, at the same time." A pause. "It's not really a personal possession."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
When it comes to global warming, we know that the real problem is not just fossil fuels – it is the logic of endless growth. If we don’t keep the global economy growing by at least 3% per year, it plunges into crisis. This ... makes little sense given the limits of our finite planet. Climate change is the most obvious symptom of this contradiction, but we’re also seeing it in the form of deforestation, desertification and mass extinction. Our economic system is incompatible with life on this planet. Debt is the reason the economy has to grow in the first place. Because debt always comes with interest, it grows exponentially. Without growth, debt piles up and eventually triggers an economic crisis. The global economic system runs on money that is itself debt. Instead of letting commercial banks create money by lending it into existence, we could have the state create the money and then spend it into existence. [In] the 1930s ... a group of economists in Chicago proposed [this] as a way of curbing the reckless lending that led to the Great Depression. The Chicago Plan, as it was called, made headlines again in 2012 when progressive IMF economists put it forward as a strategy for preventing the global financial crisis from recurring. This idea is already beginning to gain traction: in the UK, the campaigning group Positive Money has generated momentum around it. The idea has its enemies, of course. If we shift to a positive money system, big banks will no longer have the power to literally make money out of nothing.
Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. It was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles. The camp was abandoned almost 50 years ago. But serious pollutants were left behind. Now a team of scientists says that as climate warming melts the ice sheet, those pollutants could spread. [Researcher William Colgan] found unclassified records that described what was left behind there - for example, the nuclear reactor was removed, but low-level radioactive cooling water used in it was not. There were very likely PCBs, which are toxic compounds in electrical equipment. There's no record of how much remained. Colgan says the Army figured all of it would be entombed forever. "They thought it would snow in perpetuity," he says, "and the phrase they used was that the waste would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snow." Except now, the climate has changed. Greenland's ice sheet is melting. Computer models say the camp could be uncovered by the end of this century. Meltwater could easily end up in the buried camp and then carry contamination through under-ice channels to the ocean. Colgan says it's unclear who owns this waste. The Army built the camp under a treaty between the U.S. and Denmark, which had jurisdiction over Greenland. It's a legal dilemma that's likely to start cropping up more often.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
In April, the email in-boxes of energy executives filled with alerts from the nation’s top corporate law firms. The subject: the multistate investigation into whether Exxon Mobil committed fraud by publicly discounting the impact of fossil fuels on climate change. The investigations into whether their industry suppressed findings and misled investors, policymakers and the public about global warming not only raise the prospects of criminal charges, but add momentum to a legal campaign [comparable] to the decades-long battle against Big Tobacco. In April, a federal judge in Oregon ruled that a case against the U.S. government for inaction on climate change could proceed, explaining that “the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life” required examination by the courts. Environmental lawyers have argued for years that governments and companies are legally obligated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They had little success, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011 that the federal government alone had the power to control carbon emissions. But the recent entry of state prosecutors into the legal battle opens up a new line of inquiry: Did fossil fuel companies mislead their investors and the public on their own views on climate change and the risk it posed to their business? The recent legal rush follows the revelation last year that Exxon had engaged in climate change research in the 1970s and ’80s, and was warned by its own scientists of the growing threat.
Note: Read about the recent New York Attorney General's investigation into Exxon's climate change lies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing climate change news articles from reliable major media sources.
It's a case an attorney called "one of the most significant in our nation's history." Twenty-one young people (ages 8 to 19) are suing President Barack Obama and the federal government over making a mess of the planet for future generations. The government and fossil fuel groups had asked the court to toss out the federal case, but Judge Thomas Coffin on Friday denied those requests. "The nascent nature of these proceedings dictate further development of the record before the court can adjudicate whether any claims or parties should not survive for trial," Coffin wrote in the decision. "Accordingly, the court should deny the motions to dismiss." The climate kids' argument is multifaceted and nuanced, bringing in concepts of public trust doctrine as well as constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. But one of the oh-wow points they're making is this: Young people and unborn generations are being discriminated against when it comes to the U.S. propagation of climate change. They will live through an era of rising seas, heat waves, droughts, floods and extinctions that are without precedent. Yet they have little or no voice in the political system that, despite some bold steps in the right direction, continues to lease federal property for fossil fuel extraction and continues to subsidize pollution. Officials have continued to pursue harmful practices while knowing their actions would have dire future consequences. The youth plaintiffs want the feds to come up with a wholesale plan to fight climate change.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity that supports causes related to the environment, economic justice and other issues, is liquidating its investments in fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil. "While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense - financially or ethically - to continue holding investments in these companies," the fund said. In announcing its decision, the Rockefeller fund attacked Exxon for what it called the company's "morally reprehensible conduct," alluding to allegations that the company has hidden evidence that fossil fuels contribute to climate change. "Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change's march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change's destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic's ice receded," the fund said. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is said to have launched an investigation last fall into whether Exxon misled the public and investors about ... climate risks. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is also reportedly looking into whether Exxon lied about climate change. The probes followed a report by InsideClimate News ... claiming that Exxon sought to undermine scientific evidence that pointed to the growing threat of climate change.
Note: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced its fossil fuel divestment in 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on climate change and the corruption of science from reliable major media sources.
Newly published classified documents show the National Security Agency spied on a 2010 conversation between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two discussed ways to improve Israel’s relationship with the United States. The Italian-Israeli conversation is included in one of five NSA documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks. Two of the documents focus on climate change, one relates to trade talks, and two report on Italian government communications. The intelligence reports date from 2007 through 2011, [and] provide additional details on U.S. efforts to spy on countries taking part in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which failed to reach an agreement. One ... contains details of a confidential discussion about climate change negotiations between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lead-up to the conference. The NSA report is stamped “U.N. diplomatic,” “German leadership,” and Top Secret Gamma, the “Gamma” indicating an extremely sensitive spying operation. The interception methods stated on the latest leaked intelligence reports are “Unconventional” and “SCS,” which stands for Special Collection Service. SCS involves joint NSA and CIA eavesdropping operations run covertly inside U.S. and allied foreign embassy buildings in foreign capitals.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Power Pallet ... generates electricity from corn cobs, wood chips, coconut shells and other kinds of cheap, dense biomass. Although it costs $24,000 to $34,000, the Pallet can churn out electricity for less money than the diesel generators that power businesses across the developing world, while coughing up less pollution. And when used properly, the Pallet is “carbon negative,” pulling more heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than it pumps back in. Its very existence is almost an accident. Years ago, the tinkerers who would eventually found All Power were ... building flame-throwing robots for Burning Man. Berkeley officials objected and convinced Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to cut the power [to their property]. As a result, Jim Mason, All Power’s CEO, developed a keen interest in generating electricity off the grid. “We got shut off and decided to hack climate change,” Price said. Now All Power has morphed into one of the Bay Area’s unlikeliest exporters, installing 700 machines in more than 30 countries worldwide. Its 30 employees assemble one or two Pallets each week, all in Berkeley. And All Power is one of a handful of American companies displaying their products at this week’s international climate conference in Paris. The Pallet uses gasification, a process more than a century old, that subjects carbon-rich organic material to high heat. What’s left of the original material becomes biochar, which can be mixed into soil as fertilizer. That waste product - biochar - is how the Pallet achieves carbon-negative status.
The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business. The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research. The people said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives. In a separate inquiry, Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, [has] been under investigation by the attorney general for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change. Some experts see the potential for a legal assault on fossil fuel companies similar to the lawsuits against tobacco companies [that] were found guilty of “a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public.” Inside Climate News and The Los Angeles Times have reported that Exxon Mobil was well aware of the risks of climate change from its own scientific research, and used that research in its long-term planning for activities like drilling in the Arctic, even as it funded groups from the 1990s to the mid-2000s that denied serious climate risks.
Note: For those interested in the global warming debate, read this Forbes article and this one debunking it to see just how polarized and non-scientific both sides of the debate are. This CNN article states that Antarctica has been gaining ice at least since 1992. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing climate change news articles from reliable major media sources.
Rich western countries and the world’s leading developing nations are spending up to $200bn (Ł130bn) a year subsidising fossil fuels, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The ... thinktank said its 34 members plus six of the biggest emerging economies – China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa – were spending money supporting the consumption and production of coal, oil and gas that should be used to tackle climate change. The OECD secretary general, Angel Gurría, [said] that governments were spending almost twice as much money subsidising fossil fuels as was needed to meet the climate-finance objectives set by the international community at climate change summits, which have set a target of mobilising $100bn a year by 2020. Although ... fossil fuel subsidies were on a downward trend since peaking in 2011-12, the thinktank said they remained high. “By distorting costs and prices, fossil-fuel subsidies create inefficiencies in the way we generate and use energy,” Gurría said. “But most importantly, fossil-fuel subsidies undermine efforts to make our economies less carbon-intensive while exacerbating the damage to human health caused by air pollution.”
Note: The International Monetary Fund recently estimated that fossil fuel companies globally receive $5.3 trillion in yearly subsidies. In the US, these subsidies are granted by politicians that receive significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.
Two movies on similar missions are opening within weeks of each other this season, “Racing Extinction” and “This Changes Everything,” both exploring the devastation humanity has wrought on the natural world. Yet rather than focusing only on what is dying and lost, both films offer messages of hope, profiling people who have helped stop ... the pillaging of wildlife and land. Naomi Klein, who adapted “This Changes Everything,” based on her book of the same name, said a film salesman ... told her that he would market the movie only if there was no reference to climate change in the marketing. If you beat people over the head with shame, guilt and despair ... people turn away and try to forget about it. Cognizant of such aversion, the teams behind each film ... developed similar plans: target the people most passionate about what’s at stake, and bank on them to draw in others. “We want to make sure we approach the core audience directly,” said Richard Abramowitz, whose company, Abramorama, is distributing both films. “Racing Extinction” got a head start with its message this summer when the director and his collaborators projected images of endangered animals onto the Empire State Building. “This Changes Everything”... focuses on grass-roots movements that thwarted oil companies and communities that embraced renewable energy. It’s all part of the effort to get people to see the movie and then take an action.
We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher-wage jobs with fewer work hours. Canada is not this place today – but it can be. Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice. So we need to leap. There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. That applies equally to oil and gas pipelines; fracking in New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia; increased tanker traffic off our coasts; and to Canadian-owned mining projects the world over. Since this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Moving to a far more localized and ecologically based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone. “Austerity” – which has systematically attacked low-carbon sectors such as education and health care – is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat. One thing is clear: Public scarcity in times of unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis, designed to extinguish our dreams.
Note: The esteemed authors of this essay are Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page. For more, read the complete essay, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (Ł3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF ... says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. The biggest single source of air pollution is coal-fired power stations and China, with its large population and heavy reliance on coal power, provides $2.3tn of the annual subsidies. The next biggest fossil fuel subsidies are in the US ($700bn), Russia ($335bn), India ($277bn) and Japan ($157bn), with the European Union collectively allowing $330bn in subsidies to fossil fuels. Subsidy reforms are beginning in dozens of countries including Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and Thailand. In India, subsidies for diesel ended in October 2014. Coal use has also begun to fall in China for the first time this century. Shelagh Whitley, a subsidies expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: “Our research shows that many of the energy subsidies highlighted by the IMF go toward finding new reserves of oil, gas and coal, which we know must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic, irreversible climate change.”
Note: The additional cost of suppressing new energy technologies does not appear to have been included in these IMF estimates.
Royal Dutch Shell has been accused of pursuing a strategy that would lead to potentially catastrophic climate change after an internal document acknowledged a global temperature rise of 4C, twice the level considered safe for the planet. A paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification. Instead, the New Lens Scenarios document refers to a forecast by the independent International Energy Agency (IEA) that points to a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C. Louise Rouse, an investor relations specialist and consultant to Greenpeace, said the New Lens document undermined Shell’s claim that ongoing oil and gas exploration helps raise living standards in the developing world by supplying the energy for rapidly expanding economies. “There is an incoherence at best between oil companies on the one hand positioning themselves as being on the side of the world’s developing countries and while on the other actively pursuing strategies which will entail catastrophic climate change which we already know is having a significant impact on the global south,” she said. Shell’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen in 2014 and are set to increase further as it expands the business through a planned Ł47bn takeover of rival BG.
The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from US taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change. A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidies were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. “At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits,” said senator Bernie Sanders, who announced on 30 April he is running for president. Sanders, with representative Keith Ellison, recently proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which they say would cut $135bn of US subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. “Between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility, and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8bn on lobbying,” according to Sanders and Ellison. Globally in 2013, the most recent figures available, the coal, oil and gas industries benefited from subsidies of $550bn, four times those given to renewable energy. In 2009, President Barack Obama called on the G20 to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies but since then US federal subsidies have risen by 45%. Every single well, pipeline, refinery, coal and gas plant in the country is heavily subsidised.
The idea was once considered fringe — to purposely re-engineer the planet's climate as a last ditch effort to battle global warming with an artificial cloud. No longer. In a nuanced, two-volume report, the National Academy of Sciences said that the concept should not be acted upon immediately because it is too risky, but it should be studied and perhaps tested outdoors in small projects. Because warming has worsened and some countries might act unilaterally, scientists said research is needed to calculate the consequences. Panel chairwoman Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview that the public should read this report "and say, 'This is downright scary.' And they should say, 'If this is our Hail Mary, what a scary, scary place we are in.'" The committee scientists said once you start this type of tinkering, it would be difficult to stop. A decision to spray particles into the air would have to continue for more than 1,000 years. The report was requested by U.S. intelligence agencies, academy president Ralph J. Ciccerone said. Because the world is not reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, scientists have been forced "to at least consider what is known as geoengineering," he said.
Note: The National Academy of Science's two-part report says that geoengineering technologies "present serious known and possible unknown environmental, social, and political risks, including the possibility of being deployed unilaterally." The US military has used the weather as a weapon in the past. Now, with a deeply corrupt scientific establishment being guided by corrupt intelligence agencies to meddle with the planet's total ecology, and with low public awareness about the messy history of mysterious atmospheric experiments over cities in the U.S. and elsewhere, what could possibly go wrong?
For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gasses pose little risk to humanity. One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming. But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests. He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work. The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress. Dr. Soon has found a warm welcome among politicians in Washington and state capitals who try to block climate action. United States Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who claims that climate change is a global scientific hoax, has repeatedly cited Dr. Soon’s work over the years.
Note: One of Dr Soon's primary funding sources is Donors Trust, a secretive organization found to have orchestrated a vast climate denial conspiracy. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing science corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A senior American climate scientist has spoken of the fear he experienced when US intelligence services apparently asked him about the possibility of weaponising the weather as a major report on geo-engineering is to be published this week. During a debate on the use of geo-engineering to combat climate change ... Prof Robock said: “I got a phone call from two men who said we work as consultants for the CIA and we'd like to know if some other country was controlling our climate, would we know about it? ”I told them, after thinking a little bit, that we probably would because if you put enough material in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight we would be able to detect it and see the equipment that was putting it up there. “At the same time I thought they were probably also interested in if we could control somebody else's climate, could they detect it?” Professor Robock, who has investigated the potential risks and benefits of using stratospheric particles to simulate the climate-changing effects of volcanic eruptions, said he felt “scared” when the approach was made. “I'd learned of lots of other things the CIA had done that haven't followed the rules and I thought that wasn't how I wanted my tax money spent. Professor Robock’s concerns come as a major report on geo-engineering is to be published this week by the US National Academy of Sciences. Among the report’s list of sponsors is the “US intelligence community." The professor alleges that ... the US government had a proven history of using the weather in a hostile way.
Note: The National Academy of Science's two-part report says that geoengineering technologies "present serious known and possible unknown environmental, social, and political risks, including the possibility of being deployed unilaterally." With a deeply corrupt scientific establishment being guided by corrupt intelligence agencies to meddle with the planet's total ecology, and with low public awareness about the messy history of mysterious atmospheric experiments over cities in the U.S. and elsewhere, what could possibly go wrong? For solid evidence the military has used the weather as a weapon, read about HAARP.
A groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. â€śWe may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,â€ť said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science. There is still time to avert catastrophe. Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and [an] author of the new report [said], â€śThe impacts are accelerating, but theyâ€™re not so bad we canâ€™t reverse them.â€ť Humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree. Carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic. â€śIf you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,â€ť Dr. Pinsky said. â€śIn effect, thatâ€™s what weâ€™re doing to the oceans." Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover, [but] slowing extinctions in the oceans will [ultimately] mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.
Note: Ocean acidification was the number one story subjected to press censorship in 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing mass animal deaths from reliable major media sources.
In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on [climate change] to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions. The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris. The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion. In March ... the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners. In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US. Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion. “The pope should back off,” he said.
“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” is a book of such ambition and consequence that it is almost unreviewable. Klein’s fans will recognize her method. To call “This Changes Everything” environmental is to limit Klein’s considerable agenda. “There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming,” she contends, “but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which is surely the best argument there has ever been for changing those rules.” Many share Klein’s sentiments. Klein diagnoses impressively what hasn’t worked. No more claptrap about fracked gas as a bridge to renewables. Enough already of the ... nonbinding agreements that bind us all to more emissions. Klein dismantles the boondoggle that is cap and trade. She skewers grandiose command-and-control schemes to re-engineer the planet’s climate. No point, when a hubristic mind-set has gotten us into this mess, to pile on further hubris. In democracies driven by lobbyists, donors and plutocrats, the giant polluters are going to win while the rest of us, in various degrees of passivity and complicity, will watch the planet die. “Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews,” Klein writes. “This Changes Everything” is ... the most momentous and contentious environmental book since “Silent Spring.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported [on September 10] in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems. From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up, said NASA scientist Paul A. Newman. He co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released at the United Nations. "It's a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together," said chemist Mario Molina. In 1974, Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland wrote a scientific study forecasting the ozone depletion problem. They won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work. The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Man-made chlorofluorocarbons, called CFCs, released chlorine and bromine, which destroyed ozone molecules high in the air. After scientists raised the alarm, countries around the world agreed to a treaty in 1987 that phased out CFCs.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. Chapters have opened up in more than 100 US cities and states as well as on more than 300 campuses, where students are holding protests, debates and sit-ins to pressure their [universities] to rid their endowments of oil, gas and coal holdings. Some schools [in the UK], including University College London, ... already have active divestment campaigns. Four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and, in late April, 10 US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco [and Seattle]. To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels." An important target is missing from the list: the environmental organisations themselves. Some of the most powerful and wealthiest environmental organisations have long behaved as if they had a stake in the oil and gas industry. They led the climate movement down various dead ends: carbon trading, carbon offsets, natural gas as a "bridge fuel" – what these policies all held in common is that they created the illusion of progress while allowing the fossil fuel companies to keep mining, drilling and fracking with abandon.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on global warming, click here.
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (Ł77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change. 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. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations. The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions. And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden. "The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. "These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.
In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth". This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability. As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere: 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to "acknowledge", "recognise" and express "deep concern" about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them. The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now?
Data collected for the years 2003 through 2010 indicate that melting ice raised sea levels worldwide by an average of 1.48 millimeters (0.06 inches) each year. The loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica has already been measured using satellite data, but the new analysis revealed that melting ice elsewhere accounted for about 0.41 mm (0.016 inches) of the annual rise. Until now, satellite measurements from only selected places were used to extrapolate the overall ice loss outside Greenland and Antarctica. The new data confirmed that most of the melting happened on ice-covered Greenland and Antarctica. GRACE consists of two satellites that travel around the Earth together, picking up on changes in the Earth's gravitational field, which are linked to changes in mass. The researchers devised a way to separate out the changes in mass for ice-covered regions around the globe. Their results yielded two surprises: The melt rate for glaciers and ice caps outside Antarctica and Greenland made a smaller contribution to sea-level rise than had been estimated, and the melt rate in the Asian mountains, including the Himalayas, was dramatically lower: 4 billion tons annually versus up to 50 billion. "The Earth is losing an incredible amount of ice to the oceans annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet's cold regions are responding to global change," [said] study researcher John Wahr.
Note: If the rates above are correct and glacial melt continues at the same rate, in 100 years sea levels will have risen a total of 148 millimeters or about six inches. So even though massive amounts of glacial water are being added to the oceans, the overall sea level rise continues to be quite slow.
Last week, 5,000 files of private email correspondence among several of the world's top climate scientists were anonymously leaked onto the Internet. Like the first "climategate" leak of 2009, the latest release [includes emails from] top scientists in the field ... like Michael Mann of Penn State University and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia. The new release of emails was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the original climategate leak and with the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa. And it has already stirred strong emotions. But at least one scientist involved -— Mr. Mann -— has confirmed that the emails are genuine. If the case for man-made global warming is really as strong as the so-called consensus claims it is, why do the climategate emails show scientists attempting to stamp out dissenting points of view? This is the real significance of the climategate emails. They show that major scientists who inform the IPCC can't be trusted to stick to the science and avoid political activism. This, in turn, has very worrying implications for the major international policy decisions adopted on the basis of their research.
Note: We are not taking a stand for or against global warming. We post this to show that both sides of the debate are manipulating the data for their own political agendas.
Tinkering with Earth's climate to chill runaway global warming - a radical idea once dismissed out of hand - is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president's new science adviser [John Holdren] said. The concept of using technology to purposely cool the climate is called geoengineering. One option raised by Holdren and proposed by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays. Using such an experimental measure is only being thought of as a last resort, Holdren said. "It's got to be looked at," he said. "We don't have the luxury ... of ruling any approach off the table." At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions. The 65-year-old physicist is far from alone in taking geoengineering seriously. The National Academy of Sciences is making it the subject of the first workshop in its new climate challenges program for policymakers, scientists and the public. The British Parliament has also discussed the idea. At an international meeting of climate scientists last month in Copenhagen, 15 talks dealt with different aspects of geoengineering. The American Meteorological Society is crafting a policy statement that says "it is prudent to consider geoengineering's potential, to understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment."
Note: For lots more solid evidence showing that secret geoengineering programs already have been and currently are being carried out, click here. Did you know that in his 1978 book Ecoscience, Holdren, Obama's science advisor, also discussed forced mandatory abortions and infertility drugs being added to water systems as ways of controlling the population? Makes you wonder...
Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage. The [WikiLeaks] US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009. Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected. Seeking negotiating chips, the US state department sent a secret cable on 31 July 2009 seeking human intelligence from UN diplomats across a range of issues, including climate change. The request originated with the CIA. As well as countries' negotiating positions for Copenhagen, diplomats were asked to provide evidence of UN environmental "treaty circumvention" and deals between nations.
Research into the possibility of engineering a better climate is progressing at an impressive rate—and meeting strong opposition. Geoengineering is shorthand for the idea of fixing the problem of man-made climate change once the greenhouse gases that cause it have already been emitted into the atmosphere, rather than trying to stop those emissions happening in the first place. Many people think such ideas immoral ... and certain to provoke unintended consequences, to boot. Over the past few years research in the field has boomed. What is sometimes called Plan B seems to be taking shape on the laboratory bench—and seeking to escape outside. Polluting the stratosphere. Liming the oceans. Locking Greenland’s glaciers to its icy mountains. It is easy to see why sceptics balk at geoengineering. And if viewed as a substitute for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, a cover for business-as-usual into the indefinite future, then it might indeed prove a Faustian bargain. Fertilising the ocean with iron has already been tried—admittedly without much success, but also without perceptible harm being done. The harm done by stopping geoengineering experiments is that the good which might come from them will never be known. Yet even some enthusiastic researchers worry about undue haste. Geoengineering’s growth spurt will need to be matched by some grown-up questioning. Who benefits? Who decides? Who faces the risk?
Note: What this article fails to mention is that geoengineering has already been secretly used over many decades for military purposes as well as weather modification. For reliable information on this, click here.
The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today. Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said. Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said. The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland's largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada. The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years. Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, although he did not anticipate its size.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on global warming, click here.
Floods, fires, melting ice, and feverish heat — from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It is not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way. The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says, although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming. The specialists see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. “There is no time to waste,’’ because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott. The UN’s network of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves and more intense rainfalls. In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends “have already been observed,’’ in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example. The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that this summer’s events fit the international scientists’ projections of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.’’
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on global warming, click here.
Climate change is serious business - in more ways than one. Capitalist 'bootleggers' have co-opted the environmental [movement] to fulfil their raison d'etre - making money. Thanks to the 'greenwash', the solutions could be worse than the problems. Sitting on the board of [a] virtuous-sounding group - the Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP) - is one of the world's most famous green champions, Al Gore. Alongside him sits Theodore Roosevelt IV. Theodore the Fourth is a ... managing director of Barclays Capital. Consider another environmental-economics powerhouse, Generation Investment Management (GIM). Gore founded it ... with the aid of David Blood - chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management from 1999 to 2003. It is economics, not environmentalism, that has driven the search for ethically superior energy from "clean" sources derived from previously sacrosanct areas of wilderness, the exploitation of which has suddenly been legitimised, perhaps as new "energy farms" or for "biofuels". Likewise, previously off-limits coastal areas have been designated as not only suitable but also positively benign sites on which to drill for oil and gas. After all, the long-term interest - one might say the fuel - propelling countries is money. "Greenwash" is the term environmentalists use to describe businesses that present themselves as green although their practices are not.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
A new survey out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ... found that 97 percent of scientific experts agree that climate change is "very likely" caused mainly by human activity. The report is based on questions posed to 1,372 scientists. Nearly all the experts agreed that it is "very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the twentieth century." As for the 3 percent of scientists who remain unconvinced, the study found their average expertise is far below that of their colleagues, as measured by publication and citation rates. In the study, the authors wrote: "This extensive analysis of the mainstream versus skeptical/contrarian researchers suggests a strong role for considering expert credibility in the relative weight of and attention to these groups of researchers in future discussions in media, policy, and public forums regarding anthropogenic climate change." The report comes as the Earth continues to sizzle in 2010. So far, through May, 2010 is the warmest year ever recorded, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
Note: For key reports on global warming, click here.
Climate change experts face a "McCarthy-like" persecution by politically-motivated opponents, some of the world's leading scientists have claimed. In a letter published in the journal Science, more than 250 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel Prize laureates, condemned the increase in "political assaults" on scientists who argue greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. In the US politicians have called for a criminal investigation of climate scientists, while in the UK eminent professors have received hate mail and even death threats. In a strongly worded letter, the group of scientists likened the situation to the 'McCarthy era' in the US where anyone suspected of Communist links was threatened with persecution. The period in the 1950s was named after the anti-communist pursuits of Senator Joseph McCarthy. "We call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them," the letter read. The letter points out that there is uncertainty attached to theory of evolution and the Big Bang. But like these theories, climate change has been "overwhelmingly" accepted by scientists.
Trees and algae have been turning CO2 into fuel since the dawn of time, unlocking the chemical energy within this molecule to power metabolic processes. With a little ingenuity, it is already possible to transform CO2 into anything from petrol to natural gas. Any conversion processes will take a lot of energy. The question is, can these processes be refined to ensure that less energy is used to create this fuel than is provided by it? The key challenge is to convert CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO), by removing one of its oxygen atoms. Once you have CO, the process of creating hydrocarbon fuels such as petrol is easy. It's achieved through a reaction known as the Fischer-Tropsch process – most commonly used to synthesise liquid fuel from coal. But getting from CO2 to CO requires ... a lot of energy. The US Government's Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have opted for ... a system that takes its energy source from concentrated solar power. As Green Futures goes to press, researchers from Bristol and Bath Universities in the UK have also announced plans for solar-powered CO2-to-fuel conversion.
Note: If plants are able to convert CO2 to energy and have been doing this for billions of years, why can't scientists figure out a way to do this for human use?
A Greenpeace investigation has identified a little-known, privately owned US oil company as the paymaster of global warming sceptics in the US and Europe. Greenpeace says that Koch Industries donated nearly $48m (Ł31.8m) to climate opposition groups between 1997-2008. From 2005-2008, it donated $25m to groups opposed to climate change, nearly three times as much as higher-profile funders that time such as oil company ExxonMobil. Koch also spent $5.7m on political campaigns and $37m on direct lobbying to support fossil fuels. Greenpeace accuses the funded groups of "spreading inaccurate and misleading information" about climate science and clean energy companies. "The company's network of lobbyists, former executives and organisations has created a forceful stream of misinformation that Koch-funded entities produce and disseminate. The propaganda is then replicated, repackaged and echoed many times throughout the Koch-funded web of political front groups and thinktanks," said Greenpeace. The groups include many of the best-known conservative thinktanks in the US, like Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Foundation for research on economics and the environment.
Note: To read the complete Greenpeace investigative report, click here.
In 2025, US aerospace forces can “own the weather” by capitalizing on emerging technologies and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications. Such a capability offers the war fighter tools to shape the battlespace in ways never before possible. Weather-modification is a force multiplier with tremendous power that could be exploited across the full spectrum of war-fighting environments. From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns complete dominance of global communications and counter-space control, weather-modification offers war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary. But, while offensive weather modification efforts would certainly be undertaken by US forces with great caution and trepidation, it is clear that we cannot afford to allow an adversary to obtain an exclusive weather-modification capability.
Note: The above quote is taken from pages 6 and 35, the executive summary and conclusion of the above US Air Force study. For a highly revealing article suggesting elements within government have much more control over the weather than is thought, click here.
The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets — including spy satellites and other classified sensors — to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. The collaboration ... has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Secrecy cloaks the monitoring effort ... because the United States wants to keep foes and potential enemies in the dark about the abilities of its spy satellites and other sensors. Controversy has often dogged the use of federal intelligence gear for environmental monitoring. About 60 scientists — mainly from academia but including some from industry and federal agencies — run the effort’s scientific side. All have secret clearances. The C.I.A. runs the program and arranges for the scientists to draw on federal surveillance equipment, including highly classified satellites of the National Reconnaissance Office. Officials said the effort to restart the program originated on Capitol Hill in 2008 after former Vice President Al Gore argued for its importance with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who was then a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee; she became its chairwoman in early 2009.
Note: What happens to the public perception of science if research relies increasingly on secret data and collaboration with spy agencies? How could the results of important studies be verified by independent researchers? For lots more on the ever-expanding world of government secrecy, click here.
If there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world, it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story. Despite fluctuations down as well as up, "the sea is not rising," he says. "It hasn't risen in 50 years." If there is any rise this century it will "not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm". The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that ... claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on "going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world". When running the International Commission on Sea Level Change, he launched a special project on the Maldives, whose leaders have for 20 years been calling for vast sums of international aid to stave off disaster. Six times he and his expert team visited the islands, to confirm that the sea has not risen for half a century.
Note: Though evidence shows that most glaciers have rapidly been melting over the past three decades, and ice in the Arctic Ocean reached a record low in 2007, there is strikingly little evidence this is causing any shift in sea level. The frequently quoted 1972 Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" warned of a potential major rise in sea level wreaking havoc by the year 2000. Where is it? Why all the fear-mongering about rising sea levels when there is so little evidence of any rise? For many reports on global warming from reliable sources, click here.
UK border police used anti-terrorist legislation to prevent a British climate change activist from crossing over into mainland Europe where he planned to take part in events surrounding the forthcoming United Nations summit in Denmark. Chris Kitchen, a 31-year-old office worker, said he feared his treatment by police could mark the start of a clampdown on protesters, hundreds of whom are planning to travel to Copenhagen for the climate change talks in December. [He had hoped] to take part in discussions organised by a network of protest groups coming together under the banner Climate Justice Action. He said he was prevented from crossing the border ... when the coach he was travelling on stopped at the Folkestone terminal of the Channel tunnel. Kitchen said police officers boarded the coach and, after checking all passengers' passports, took him and another climate activist to be interviewed under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a clause which enables border officials to stop and search individuals to determine if they are connected to terrorism. The passports were not initially scanned, Kitchen said, suggesting the officials knew his name and had planned to remove him from the coach before they boarded. During his interview, he was asked questions about his family, work and past political activity. The police also asked him what he intended to do in Copenhagen. When Kitchen said that anti-terrorist legislation does not apply to environmental activists, he said the officer replied that terrorism "could mean a lot of things". Police are understood to be monitoring protesters on a number of databases, some of which highlight individuals when they pass through secure areas, such as ports.
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on increasing government erosion of civil liberties, click here.
Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have managed to prove that fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas to be generated. The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe. “Using our research we can even say where oil could be found in Sweden,” says Vladimir Kutcherov, a professor at the Division of Energy Technology at KTH. Together with two research colleagues, Vladimir Kutcherov has simulated the process involving pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner layers of the earth, the process that generates hydrocarbon, the primary component in oil and natural gas. According to Vladimir Kutcherov, the findings are a clear indication that the oil supply is not about to end, which researchers and experts in the field have long feared. He adds that there is no way that fossil oil, with the help of gravity or other forces, could have seeped down to a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits. As Vladimir Kutcherov sees it, this is further proof, alongside his own research findings, of the genesis of these energy sources – that they can be created in other ways than via fossils. This has long been a matter of lively discussion among scientists. “There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil,” says Vladimir Kutcherov.
Note: The research work of Kutcherov and others on this topic was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience. For more reports from reliable sources on key new energy discoveries, click here.
The US oil and gas lobby are planning to stage public events to give the appearance of a groundswell of public opinion against legislation that is key to Barack Obama's climate change strategy. A key lobbying group will bankroll and organise 20 "energy citizen" rallies in 20 states. In an email obtained by Greenpeace, Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), outlined what he called a "sensitive" plan to stage events during the August congressional recess to put a "human face" on opposition to climate and energy reform. "Our goal is to energise people and show them that they are not alone," said Cathy Landry, for API, who confirmed that the memo was authentic. The email from Gerard lays out ambitious plans to stage a series of lunchtime rallies to try to shape the climate bill that was passed by the house in June and will come before the Senate in September. "We must move aggressively," it reads.The API strategy also extends to a PR drive. Gerard cites polls to test the effectiveness of its arguments against climate change legislation. It offers up the "energy citizen" rallies as ready-made events, noting that allies – which include manufacturing and farm alliances as well as 400 oil and gas member organisations – will have to do little more than turn up. "API will provide the up-front resources," the email said. "This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns."
Note: For important reports from major media sources on global warming and oil company manipulation of public perception, click here.
The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists [have] said. "We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," [said] Christopher Field, founding director of the ... Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. The higher emissions are largely the result of the increased burning of coal in developing countries, he said. Unexpectedly large amounts of carbon dioxide are being released into the atmosphere as the result of "feedback loops" that are speeding up natural processes. Prominent among these ... is a cycle in which higher temperatures are beginning to melt the arctic permafrost, which could release hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The permafrost holds 1 trillion tons of carbon, and as much as 10 percent of that could be released this century, Field said. Along with carbon dioxide melting permafrost releases methane, which is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. "It's a vicious cycle of feedback where warming causes the release of carbon from permafrost, which causes more warming, which causes more release from permafrost," Field said.
Note: For many key reports from major media sources on the global warming crisis, click here.
President Obama plans to order a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Council, expanding its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues. The result will be a "dramatically different" NSC from that of the Bush administration or any of its predecessors since the forum was established after World War II ... according to national security adviser James L. Jones, who described the changes in an interview. Jones, a retired Marine general, made it clear that he will run the process and be the primary conduit of national security advice to Obama. The new structure ... will expand the NSC's reach far beyond the range of traditional foreign policy issues. New NSC directorates will deal with such department-spanning 21st-century issues as cybersecurity, energy, climate change, nation-building and infrastructure. Many of the functions of the Homeland Security Council, established as a separate White House entity by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may be subsumed into the expanded NSC, although it is still undetermined whether elements of the HSC will remain as a separate body within the White House. Over the next 50 days, John O. Brennan, a CIA veteran who serves as presidential adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security and is Jones's deputy, will review options for the homeland council, including its responsibility for preparing for and responding to natural and terrorism-related domestic disasters.
A flagship European scheme designed to fight global warming is set to hand hundreds of millions of pounds to some of Britain's most polluting companies, with little or no benefit to the environment. Dozens of multinational firms stand to benefit from the windfall, which comes from the over-allocation of carbon permits under the European emissions trading scheme. The permits are given to companies by the government, and are supposed to account for their carbon pollution over the next five years. But figures published by the European Commission show that many companies have been allocated far too many permits, which they can sell for cash. The scheme is supposed to only distribute as many permits as companies require, with one permit allocated for each tonne of CO2 produced. The figures ... suggest that up to 9m extra annual permits have been allocated to 200 companies across almost all sectors of the British economy, from steel and cement making, to car manufacturing and the food and drink industry. Dozens of household names such as Ford, Thames Water, Astra Zeneca and Vauxhall are among the companies that could benefit. Campaigners say the allocations were ... influenced by industry group lobbying. A source at a major UK car manufacturing firm, which has been allocated more than double the number of permits it needs, told the Guardian they were given out based on "magical logic".
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
From the assassination of John F Kennedy to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. From Roswell, New Mexico, to Nasa's moon landings. From the bloodline of Christ to the death of Elvis Presley. From the Moscow appartment bombings to the Indian Ocean tsunami. From Pearl Harbour to Peak Oil, the Philadelphia experiment and Pan Am flight 103. Every major event of the last 2,000 years has prompted a conspiracy theory and here we examine those with the biggest followings and the most longevity. 1. September 11, 2001. Thanks to the power of the web and live broadcasts on television, the ... theories surrounding the events of 9/11 ... have surpassed those of Roswell and JFK in traction. The [alternative] theories continue to grow in strength. At the milder end of the spectrum are the theorists who believe that the US government had prior warning of the attacks but did not do enough to stop them. Others believe that the Bush administration deliberately turned a blind eye to those warnings because it wanted a pretext to launch wars in the Middle East to usher in another century of American hegemony. A large group of people - collectively called the 9/11 Truth Movement - cite evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon and that the World Trade Centre could not have been brought down by airliner impacts and burning aviation fuel alone. Many witnesses - including firemen, policemen and people who were inside the towers at the time - claim to have heard explosions below the aircraft impacts (including in basement levels) and before both the collapses and the attacks themselves.
Note: For a concise two-page summary of many unanswered questions about what really happened on 9/11, click here.
Changes to the climate due to human activity can now be detected on every continent, following a study showing that temperature rises in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. It is the first time scientists have been able to prove the link between the temperature changes in both polar regions are down to human activity and it also undermines climate sceptics who believe the warming trend seen in the Arctic in recent decades is part of the climate's natural variability. The findings contradict the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that Antarctica was the only continent where the human impact on the climate had not been observed. The new study shows that Antarctica has been caught up in the changes to the global climate over the past 60 years and that this warming cannot be attributed to natural variations. Using four computer models and data from dozens of weather stations sited around both the North and South poles, the study conclusively shows that humans are responsible for the significant increases in temperatures observed in the Arctic and the Antarctic over the past half century. "We're able for the first time to directly attribute warming in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to human influences on the climate," said Nathan Gillett of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who led the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on the reality of global warming, click here.
Consumption of resources is rising rapidly, biodiversity is plummeting and just about every measure shows humans affecting Earth on a vast scale. Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency. But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy. This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe. They see no limits to that growth, ever. In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth, as they pour billions of public money into a failing financial system. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully. This one is built on a long-standing question: how do we square Earth's finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too? It has taken all of human history for the economy to reach its current size. On current form it will take just two decades to double. In this special issue, New Scientist brings together key thinkers from politics, economics and philosophy who profoundly disagree with the growth dogma but agree with the scientists monitoring our fragile biosphere.
Climate change is happening much faster than the world's best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns. 'Extreme weather events' such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently. Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more often by violent cyclones and the predicted rise in sea level will double to more than a metre, putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding. The bleak report from WWF -- formerly the World Wildlife Fund -- also predicts crops failures and the collapse of ecosystems on both land and sea. And it calls on the EU to set an example to the rest of the world by agreeing a package of challenging targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the consequences of climate change and to keep any increase in global temperatures below 2C. The agency says that the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ... is now out of date. WWF's report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger, sooner, has updated all the scientific data and concluded that global warming is accelerating far beyond the IPCC's forecasts. As an example it says the first 'tipping point' may have already been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone completely within five years - something that hasn't occurred for a million years. It could result in rapid and abrupt climate change rather than the gradual changes forecast by the IPCC.
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James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has [co-authored a] paper saying that [future global warming] is likely to turn out worse than most people think. The most recent major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 projects a temperature rise of three degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees—enough to trigger serious impacts on human life from rising sea level, widespread drought, changes in weather patterns, and the like. But according to Hansen and his nine co-authors ... the correct figure is closer to six degrees C. “That’s the equilibrium level,” he says. “We won’t get there for a while. But that’s where we’re aiming.” And although the full impact of this temperature increase will not be felt until the end of this century or even later, Hansen says, the point at which major climate disruption is inevitable is already upon us. “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” the paper states, “CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm.” The situation, he says, “is much more sensitive than we had implicitly been assuming.” Back in 1998 ... Hansen was arguing that the human impact on climate was unquestionable, even as other leading climate scientists continued to question it. He was subsequently proved right, not only about the human influence but about the approximate pace of future temperature rise.
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[The Bush] administration is ... proposing changes that would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves whether subdivisions, dams, highways and other projects have the potential to harm endangered animals and plants. Agencies also could not consider a project's contribution to global warming in their analysis. Environmentalists complained the proposals would gut protections for endangered animals and plants. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne [said] the revisions ... were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a "back door" to regulate the gases blamed for global warming. In May, the polar bear became the first species declared as threatened because of climate change. Warming temperatures are expected to melt the sea ice the bear depends on for survival. The rule changes ... would apply to any project a federal agency would fund, build or authorize that the agency itself determines is unlikely to harm endangered wildlife and their habitat. Government wildlife experts currently participate in tens of thousands of such reviews each year. The revisions also would limit which effects can be considered harmful and set a 60-day deadline for wildlife experts to evaluate a project. If no decision is made within 60 days, the project can move ahead. "If adopted, these changes would seriously weaken the safety net of habitat protections that we have relied upon to protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming initiative.
Note: For many important reports on global warming from major media sources, click here.
A leading U.S. Senate Democrat accused the Bush administration on Tuesday of a "cover-up" aimed at stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from tackling greenhouse emissions. "This cover-up is being directed from the White House and the office of the vice president," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. At issue is a preliminary finding by the EPA last December that "greenhouse gases may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public welfare," according to Jason Burnett, the agency's former associate deputy administrator who appeared at a news conference with Boxer. Such a finding would be an early step toward government regulation aimed at protecting public health. Boxer said that unless EPA documents were released, it was likely that within the next two weeks her committee would try to subpoena the material. Burnett, who resigned on June 9, told Boxer's committee the White House tried pressuring him to retract an e-mail [in] which he detailed the finding. Burnett said he refused. Since then, the EPA finding has been left "in limbo." [Boxer] has been trying since last October to obtain related documents to show that planned congressional testimony on global warming by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was censored by the Bush administration. Burnett told the congressional committee the administration's Council on Environmental Quality "and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony."
Note: For key news reports on global warming from reliable sources, click here.
The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week. The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment. This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant. Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Both documents, as prepared by the E.P.A., “showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy, to reduce greenhouse gases,” one of the senior E.P.A. officials said. “That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.”
Note: For many important reports on global warming from major media sources, click here.
An investigation by the NASA inspector general found that political appointees in the space agency's public affairs office worked to control and distort public accounts of its researchers' findings about climate change for at least two years. The probe came at the request of 14 senators after The Washington Post and other news outlets reported in 2006 that Bush administration officials had monitored and impeded communications between NASA climate scientists and reporters. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and has campaigned publicly for more stringent limits on greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, told The Post and The New York Times in September 2006 that he had been censored by NASA press officers, and several other agency climate scientists reported similar experiences. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are two of the government's lead agencies on climate change issues. From the fall of 2004 through 2006, the report said, NASA's public affairs office "managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public." It noted elsewhere that "news releases in the areas of climate change suffered from inaccuracy, factual insufficiency, and scientific dilution." The report found "by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claims of inappropriate political interference made by the climate change scientists and career public affairs officers were ... persuasive."
Note: For lots more on global warming from reliable sources, click here.
A group of 1,700 leading scientists called on the US government yesterday to take the lead in fighting global warming. Citing the "unprecedented and unanticipated" effects of global warming, the scientists, including six Nobel prizewinners, presented a letter calling for an immediate reduction in US carbon emissions. The letter, issued by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, warns: "If emissions continue unabated, our nation and the world will face more sea level rise, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, snowmelt, flood risk, and public health threats, as well as increased rates of plant and animal species extinctions." The White House joined in the chorus of gloom when it issued a long-delayed report bringing together research into global warming. The report was issued after environmental groups won a court order last year enforcing a statute that obliges the government to produce an assessment of global warming every four years. Described as "a litany of bad news in store for the US", the report catalogues threats from drought, natural disaster, insect infestation and energy shortages. The scientists call on the government to "reduce emissions on the order of 80% below 2000 levels by 2050." As a first step, the scientists call for a 15-20% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. "There is no time to waste," the letter concludes. "The most risky thing we can do is nothing." Another group of climate scientists warned yesterday that a "curious optimism ... pervades the political arenas of the G8 and UN climate meetings. The authors are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but stress in this paper they do not represent the panel.
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A handful of the world's largest agricultural biotechnology companies are seeking hundreds of patents on gene-altered crops designed to withstand drought and other environmental stresses, part of a race for dominance in the potentially lucrative market for crops that can handle global warming. Three companies -- BASF of Germany, Syngenta of Switzerland and Monsanto of St. Louis -- have filed applications to control nearly two-thirds of the climate-related gene families submitted to patent offices worldwide, according to the report by the Ottawa-based ETC Group, an activist organization that advocates for subsistence farmers. Many of the world's poorest countries, destined to be hit hardest by climate change, have rejected biotech crops, citing environmental and economic concerns. Importantly, gene patents generally preclude the age-old practice of saving seeds from a harvest for replanting, requiring instead that farmers purchase the high-tech seeds each year. The ETC report concludes that biotech giants are hoping to leverage climate change as a way to get into resistant markets, and it warns that the move could undermine public-sector plant-breeding institutions such as those coordinated by the United Nations and the World Bank, which have long made their improved varieties freely available. "When a market is dominated by a handful of large multinational companies, the research agenda gets biased toward proprietary products," said Hope Shand, ETC's research director. "Monopoly control of plant genes is a bad idea under any circumstance. During a global food crisis, it is unacceptable and has to be challenged."
Note: For many disturbing reports on risks from genetic engineering from major media sources, click here.
Global warming is disrupting wildlife and the environment on every continent, according to an unprecedented study that reveals the extent to which climate change is already affecting the world's ecosystems. Scientists examined published reports dating back to 1970 and found that at least 90% of environmental damage and disruption around the world could be explained by rising temperatures. Big falls in Antarctic penguin populations, fewer fish in African lakes, shifts in American river flows and earlier flowering and bird migrations in Europe are all likely to be driven by global warming, the study found. The team of experts, including members of the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) ... is the first to formally link some of the most dramatic changes to the world's wildlife and habitats with human-induced climate change. [The] researchers analysed reports highlighting changes in populations or behaviour of 28,800 animal and plant species. They examined a further 829 reports that focused on different environmental effects, including surging rivers, retreating glaciers and shifting forests, across the seven continents. To work out how much - or if at all - global warming played a role, the scientists next checked historical records to see what impact natural variations in local climate, deforestation and changes in land use might have on the ecosystems and species that live there. In 90% of cases the shifts in wildlife behaviour and populations could only be explained by global warming, while 95% of environmental changes, such as melting permafrost, retreating glaciers and changes in river flows were consistent with rising temperatures.
It's been dubbed a Noah's Ark for plant life and built to withstand an earthquake or a nuclear attack. Dug deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, the "doomsday" vault is designed by Norway to protect the world's seeds from global catastrophe. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a backup to the world's 1,400 other seed banks, was to be officially inaugurated in a ceremony Tuesday on the northern rim of civilization attended by about 150 guests from 33 countries. The frozen vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe, shielding them from climate change, war, natural disasters and other threats. Norway's government owns the vault in Svalbard, a frigid archipelago 620 miles from the North Pole. The Nordic country paid $9.1 million for construction, which took less than a year. Other countries can deposit seeds for free and reserve the right to withdraw them upon need. Giant air conditioning units have chilled the vault to just below zero, a temperature at which experts say many seeds could survive for 1,000 years. Inside the concrete entrance ... a roughly 400-foot-long tunnel of steel and concrete leads to three separate 32-by-88-foot chambers where the seeds will be stored. The first 600 boxes with 12 tons of seeds already have arrived from 20 seed banks around the world, Norwegian Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said. Each chamber can hold 1.5 million packets holding all types of crop seeds, from carrots to wheat.
The trap was sprung in February 2006. The White House ordered that Dr Jim Hansen was to be denied the oxygen of publicity forthwith. He was to be banned from appearing in newspapers and on TV and radio. He was effectively to disappear. It was the kind of treatment that might be reserved for terrorists, criminals or, in a totalitarian regime, for political dissidents. Hansen, however, was none of these things. The director of NASA’s renowned Goddard space science laboratories was a dry, rather self-effacing climate change scientist with a worldwide reputation for accurate and high-quality research. Hansen’s visit to London last week was partly inspired by the decision to approve construction of a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent. This, Hansen wants to warn us, is a recipe for global warming disaster. The recent warm winters that Britain has experienced are a clear sign that the climate is changing, he says. “We are fast approaching a series of tipping points. Changes such as the melting of the Arctic ice cap, the acidification of the oceans and the global rises in temperature could be approaching the point of becoming irreversible. In the face of such threats it is madness to propose a new generation of power plants based on burning coal, which is the dirtiest and most polluting of all the fossil fuels. We need a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants and we must phase out the existing ones within two decades.”
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A sea change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil. It’s meat. Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests. The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) At about 5 percent of the world’s population, [Americans] “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total. Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. An estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production. Livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation. Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens.
The environmental damage caused to developing nations by the world's richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt of $1.8 trillion, according to the first systematic global analysis of the ecological damage imposed by rich countries. There are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The authors say that the west's high living standards are maintained in part through the huge unrecognised ecological debts it has built up with developing countries. "At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said Prof Richard Norgaard, an ecological economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here." The researchers examined so-called "environmental externalities" or costs that are not included in the prices paid for goods but which cover ecological damage linked to their consumption. They focused on six areas: greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing and converting mangrove swamps into shrimp farms. The team confined its calculations to areas in which the costs of environmental damage, for example in terms of lost services from ecosystems, are well understood. "We think the measured impact is conservative. And given that it's conservative, the numbers are very striking," said co-author Dr Thara Srinivasan, who is also at Berkeley.
Safeway grocery trucks no longer just deliver vegetables. In a sense, they now run on vegetables, too. Safeway, the nation's third-largest grocery chain, said Friday that its entire nationwide trucking fleet now uses biodiesel, a renewable fuel that can be made from plant oils, used cooking grease or animal fat. In Safeway's case, the biodiesel comes from soy oil or canola oil. It is blended with regular petroleum diesel before being pumped into the company's more than 1,000 trucks. The move is part of Safeway's broader effort to green its operations. The Pleasanton company buys much of its electricity from wind farms, has switched to energy-efficient refrigeration and lighting, and is installing solar panels on 24 of its California stores. Biodiesel generally produces less air pollution than diesel made from petroleum. And it helps rein in greenhouse gas emissions because the plants used to make it absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Safeway won't reveal how much fuel it's buying or the price it's paying. Biodiesel typically costs more than regular diesel. The price increased last year as some farmers switched from growing soybeans to growing corn, hoping to tap into the growing market for another alternative fuel - corn-based ethanol. Safeway estimates that using the biodiesel blend will cut the company's carbon dioxide emissions by 75 million pounds each year, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road.
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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill blasted the Bush administration for forcing edits in the testimony of a government expert speaking to Congress about the health effects of global warming. When [Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,] testified about the health effects of global warming, her testimony was a bit vague. "Weather is inextricably linked to health," she said. It turned out six pages of specific warnings about diseases that could spread because of global warming were edited out by the White House, as well as a line that the CDC considered this a serious public health concern that remained "largely unaddressed." When a draft of Gerberding's testimony went to the White House for review, two sections - "Climate Change is a Public Health Concern" and "Climate Change Vulnerability" - were removed, cutting the 12-page document in half. The original draft contained much greater detail on the potential disease and other health effects of climate change than was in either Gerberding's prepared remarks or in her other comments during the hearing. "The public health effects of climate change remain largely unaddressed. CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern," the draft says. The phrase was not in the testimony given the committee or in her other remarks at the hearing. “It appears the White House has denied a Congressional committee access to scientific information about health and global warming," said Dr. Michael McCally, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "This misuse of science and abuse of the legislative process is deplorable.”
Gordon Brown has promised to double the number of "eco-towns" to be built across the UK from five to ten. The prime minister told the Labour conference in Bournemouth that a positive response to the project had encouraged him to expand it. This showed "imagination", he said, adding that eco-towns would help the government meet housebuilding targets. In May, Mr Brown promised [that] communities of up to 100,000 low-carbon and carbon-neutral homes would be built. Mr Brown told the Labour conference: "For the first time in nearly half a century we will show the imagination to build new towns - eco-towns with low and zero-carbon homes. And today, because of the responses we have received, we are announcing that instead of just five new eco-towns we will now aim for ten - building thousands of new homes in every region of the country." This would help boost housebuilding to 240,000 homes a year, he said. The eco-town idea was the first major policy announcement made by Mr Brown as he began his campaign to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister earlier this year. Constructed on old industrial sites, they will be powered by locally generated energy from sustainable sources. The government said that, with a month to go until the deadline, there had been about 30 expressions of interest in building eco-towns from councils, developers and others.
On a recent run from Boston to Cape Cod, I test drove the 2008 Honda Accord, the latest version of this family favorite. The new Accord boasts an environmental first: a six-cylinder gasoline engine that's cleaner than many hybrid systems. There's only one catch: You can't actually buy this ultra-green Accord, or the four-cylinder version that also produces near-zero pollution. That is, unless you live in California, New York or six other northeast states that follow California's tougher pollution rules. Only there can you buy this Accord, or the roughly two dozen other models that meet so-called Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standards, PZEV for short. Not only can't you buy one, but the government says it's currently illegal for automakers to sell these green cars outside of the special states. Under terms of the Clean Air Act — in the kind of delicious irony only our government can pull off — anyone (dealer, consumer, automaker) involved in an out-of-bounds PZEV sale could be subject to civil fines of up to $27,500. Volvo sent its dealers a memo alerting them to this fact, noting that its greenest S40 and V50 models were only for the special states. So, just how green is a PZEV machine? Well, if you just cut your lawn with a gas mower, congratulations, you just put out more pollution in one hour than these cars do in 2,000 miles of driving. Grill a single juicy burger, and you've cooked up the same hydrocarbon emissions as a three-hour drive in a Ford Focus PZEV. As the California Air Resources Board has noted, the tailpipe emissions of these cars can be cleaner than the outside air in smoggy cities. PZEV models are already available from Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, Subaru, Volvo and VW. But chances are, you've never heard of them.
Note: For many exciting articles about new, efficient and clean energy inventions, click here.
The Bush Administration has run a systematic campaign to play down the dangers of climate change, demanding hundreds of politically motivated changes to scientific reports and muzzling a pre-eminent expert on global warming, the US Congress has been told. The testimony ... painted the Administration as determined to maintain its line on climate change even when it clashed with the findings of scientific experts. The Administration has moved to exercise control over environmental agencies by installing political appointees including a former oil industry lobbyist, Philip Cooney, as chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality. In 2003 Mr Cooney and other senior appointed officials made at least 181 changes to a strategic plan on climate change to play down the scientific consensus on global warming. They made a further 113 alterations to minimise the human role in climate change. "These changes must be made," a note in Mr Cooney's handwriting says. Under heated questioning, Mr Cooney admitted the changes were all intended to cast doubt on the impact of global warming. Control from the White House became the norm, [NASA's Dr. James] Hansen told the committee. "Scientific press releases were going to the White House for editing," he said. "It's very unfortunate that we developed this politicisation of science. The public relations office should be staffed by expert appointees - otherwise they become offices of propaganda." Hansen was also restrained from giving press interviews by a junior political appointee, George Deutsch. Mr Deutsch left NASA early last year after it emerged he had falsified his CV.
The Bush administration is ordering federal wildlife officials headed for international meetings on polar bears not to talk about how climate change and melting ice are affecting the imperiled animals. It is the latest in a string of cases in which the administration has carefully controlled or even banned government employees' public speech about global warming. This latest chapter involves two memorandums written in late February that put strict limits on what U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees could discuss at meetings in Norway and Russia. A third memo says the policy will apply for trips to those two nations as well as Canada and "any northern country." The memos came just months after the administration, under pressure from a suit brought by conservationists, announced that it would consider protecting the bears under the Endangered Species Act. Top-down control of government scientists' discussions of climate change became controversial last year, after appointees at NASA kept journalists from interviewing climate scientists and discouraged news releases on global warming. In June, a high-ranking official in [NASA admitted] the agency "inappropriately" denied a journalist's request to interview James Hansen, an outspoken scientist who heads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In September, news accounts revealed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had suppressed an internal agency e-mail intended to summarize scientists' consensus on evidence of a link between hurricanes and climate change.
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine the UN climate change report. Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute, an ExxonMobil-funded think tank with close links to the Bush Administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of the report. Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered. The institute has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil - which yesterday announced a $50 billion annual profit, the biggest ever by a US company - and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush Administration. A former head of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond, is the vice-chairman of the institute's board of trustees.
Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years -- capping a nine-year warming streak "unprecedented in the historical record" that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday. According to the government's National Climatic Data Center, the record-breaking warmth -- which caused daffodils and cherry trees to bloom throughout the East on New Year's Day -- was the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The center said there are indications that the rate at which global temperatures are rising is speeding up. Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century. Climate experts generally do not make much of temperature fluctuations over one or two years, but ... the record 2006 temperatures were part of a long and worrisome trend. For instance, NOAA said, the past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the continental United States. Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists [said] "when you look at temperatures across the globe, every single year since 1993 has been in the top 20 warmest years on record." Globally, 2005 was the hottest year on record ... and 2006 was slightly cooler.
ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted yesterday. The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change." Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true. As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations ... inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities. Eight years ago ... the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented. Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.
Note: There has been little solid evidence showing that this island was inundated due to global warming. For more on this, see this link.
Some 10,000 US researchers have signed a statement protesting about political interference in the scientific process. The statement, which includes the backing of 52 Nobel Laureates, demands a restoration of scientific integrity in government policy. According to the American Union of Concerned Scientists, data is being misrepresented for political reasons. It claims scientists working for federal agencies have been asked to change data to fit policy initiatives. The Union has released an "A to Z" guide that ... documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in federal science. Campaigners say that in recent years the White House has been able to censor the work of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration because a Republican congress has been loath to stand up for scientific integrity. Michael Halpern from the UCS said the statement of objection to political interference had been supported by researchers regardless of their political views. "This science statement that has now been signed by the 10,000 scientists is signed by science advisers to both Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Eisenhower, stating that this is not business as usual and calling for this practice to stop."
Hydrogen, tested in buses from Amsterdam to Vancouver ... is a clean power that promises to break dependence on oil and gas -- at least in Iceland. With almost unlimited geothermal energy sizzling beneath its surface, Iceland has an official goal of making the country oil-free by shifting cars, buses, trucks and ships over to hydrogen by about 2050. About 70 percent of Iceland's energy needs ... are already met by geothermal or hydro-electric power. Only the transport sector is still hooked on polluting oil and gas. The world's first hydrogen filling station, run by Shell, opened in Reykjavik in April 2003. Hydrogen bus projects have also been launched in cities including Barcelona, Chicago, Hamburg, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Beijing and Perth, Australia. The efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cells will decide if the ventures take off into the wider car market. "The idea is that the buses should be twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine," said Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Icelandic New Energy Ltd. Greater engine efficiency would compensate for the inefficiency of producing hydrogen. Iceland's buses, made by DaimlerChrysler, cost about 1.25 million euros ($1.67 million) each, or three to four times more than a diesel-powered bus, Skulason said. It takes about 6-10 minutes to refill a hydrogen bus, giving a range of 240 miles. [A] Reykjavik bus driver said diesel and hydrogen buses were similar to drive. "But the hydrogen bus is less noisy."
At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie. The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global warming ... certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). It seemed like a no-brainer. In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that ... they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free DVDs. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp. That's the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads in leading newspapers ... questioning the role of manmade emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a small band of scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the consensus that heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our atmosphere. NSTA says it has received $6 million from the company since 1996. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group's corporate advisory board.
ExxonMobil should stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view, two senators said today in a letter to the oil company. In their letter to ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., appealed to Exxon's sense of corporate responsibility, asking the company to "come clean about its past denial activities." The two senators called on ExxonMobil to "end any further financial assistance" to groups "whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth." An upcoming study from the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that ExxonMobil funded 29 climate change denial groups in 2004 alone. Since 1990, the report said, the company has spent more than $19 million funding groups that promote their views through publications and Web sites that are not peer reviewed by the scientific community.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is quitting the hydropower and geothermal power research business -- if Congress will let it. Declaring them "mature technologies" that need no further funding, the Bush administration in its FY 2007 budget request eliminates hydropower and geothermal research. "What we do well is research and funding of new, novel technologies," says Craig Stevens, chief spokesman for the DOE. "I'm just astonished the department would zero out these very small existing budgets for geothermal and hydro," says V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. "These are very important resources for our energy future that could replace the need for a lot of coal-fired power plants." Indeed, the costs of lost opportunities from dropping such research could be enormous in the long run. Geothermal holds vast potential -- at least 30,000 megawatts of identified resources developable by 2050. Meanwhile, the more than 5,400 potential "small hydro" power projects could produce about 20,000 megawatts of power, a DOE study in January found. And most would require no new dams at all, shunting a portion of a small river's flow to one side to make electricity. Others would add turbines to dams that don't have them yet. Together, high-tech hydropower and geothermal resources could contribute at least enough power to replace more than 100 medium-size coal-fired power plants with emissions-free electricity.
The nation's top climate scientists are giving "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy. The former vice president's movie -- replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets -- mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.
Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation. Exxon Mobil Corp. and other large businesses contribute to conservative think tanks to help "educate" federal judges through seminars like the one at Yellowstone. The Code of Conduct for federal judges does not prohibit attending such seminars -- as long as participation does not "cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially issues that may come before them." Leaders of Congress and the federal courts seem to recognize that the federal judiciary ought to be out of bounds for lobbyists. Judges are appointed for life, and allowing insider access threatens the integrity of the one branch of government that should stand above politics. Court cases must be won by argument, not by influence, and that means putting a stop to judicial junkets that give one side of the debate an unfair advantage.
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs ... warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.' The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors. Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. A former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.
Note: Though I don't agree with these doomsday scenario predictions (the Pentagon tends to focus on worst-case scenarios), the suppression of this report clearly does not serve the public.
Bush's relationship to science can be illustrated by the fact that he is speaking rapturously of producing ethanol from (of all things) switch grass -- but not saying a word about what many scientists say may be the greatest disaster facing humankind: global climate change. [In] a Time magazine cover story...Mark Thompson and Karen Tumulty write that "growing numbers of researchers, both in and out of government, say their findings -- on pollution, climate change, reproductive health, stem-cell research and other areas in which science often finds itself at odds with religious, ideological or corporate interests -- are being discounted, distorted or quashed by Bush Administration appointees. In the past two years, the Union of Concerned Scientists has collected the signatures of more than 8,000 scientists -- including 49 Nobel laureates... -- who accuse the Administration of an unprecedented level of political intrusion into their world. Says Francesca Grifo, director of the group's Scientific Integrity Program,"'What's new is its pervasive and systemic nature. We get calls every week from federal scientists reporting stuff to us. Rarely, however, are they willing to put their jobs and their research grants at risk by going public with their complaints." 29-year NASA veteran James Hansen, who is director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, charged on the front page of the New York Times that he has been muzzled by the agency. Melissa Block interviewed Bransby on NPR and found out that politics played a role in Bush's mention of switch grass.
After [a] speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly [warned] Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said...the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all [NASA] personnel. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed...saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings. Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide. The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.
Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, including five who served Republican presidents, said Wednesday that the Bush administration needed to act more aggressively to limit the emission of greenhouse gases linked to climate change. Speaking on a panel that also included the current agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson, they generally agreed that the need to address global warming was growing urgent and that the continuing debate over what percentage of the problem was caused by human activities was a waste of time. The blunt opinions of [the current EPA chief's] Republican predecessors served as a sharp reminder that since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, neither the president nor the Republican-led Congress has proposed any comprehensive plan to limit carbon emissions from vehicles, utilities and other sources, a problem that Mr. Bush's own Department of Energy predicts will grow worse.
The best reporting of...climate change has come from Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker. Her three-part series last spring lucidly explained the harbingers of potential disaster: a shrinking of Arctic sea ice by 250 million acres since 1979; a thawing of the permafrost for what appears to be the first time in 120,000 years; a steady warming of Earth's surface temperature; changes in rainfall patterns that could presage severe droughts of the sort that destroyed ancient civilizations. This month she published a new piece, "Butterfly Lessons," that looked at how these delicate creatures are moving into new habitats as the planet warms. Her real point was that all life, from microorganisms to human beings, will have to adapt, and in ways that could be dangerous and destabilizing. If people such as...Kolbert are right, we are all but ignoring the biggest story in the history of humankind. Kolbert concluded her series last year with this shattering thought: "It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." The failure of the United States to get serious about climate change is unforgivable, a human folly beyond imagining.
Iceland wants to make a full conversion and plans to modify its cars, buses and trucks to run on renewable energy -- with no dependence on oil. Iceland has already started by turning water into fuel -- hydrogen fuel. Here's how it works: Electrodes split the water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Hydrogen electrons pass through a conductor that creates the current to power an electric engine. Hydrogen fuel now costs two to three times as much as gasoline, but gets up to three times the mileage of gas, making the overall cost about the same. As an added benefit, there are no carbon emissions -- only water vapor. By the middle of this century, all Icelanders will be required to run their cars only on hydrogen fuel, meaning no more gasoline. Icelanders say they're committed to showing the world that by making fuel from water, it is possible to kick the oil habit.
Note: This is mind-blowing information! Why isn't this amazing news of economical, non-polluting energy sources making top headlines? A video clip of the above ABC News story is available on the ABC website at the link above. A friend of mine invented a similar device only to have it ruthlessly suppressed. For lots more on all this, click here.
The ozone layer has stopped shrinking but it will take decades to start recovering, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday. They said an international agreement to limit production of ozone-depleting chemicals has apparently worked, but the damage to ozone has not been halted completely. An analysis of satellite records and surface monitoring instruments shows the ozone layer has grown a bit thicker in some parts of the world, but is still well below normal levels, the scientists report in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. The experts credited, at least in part, the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was ratified by more than 180 nations and set legally binding controls for on the production and consumption of ozone-depleting gases containing chlorine and bromine.
The sabotage of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 20 years ago in Auckland was carried out with the "personal authorisation" of France's late president Francois Mitterrand, documents showed today. Le Monde newspaper published extracts in its Saturday edition of a 1986 account written by Pierre Lacoste, the former head of France's DGSE foreign intelligence service, giving the clearest demonstration yet of Mitterrand's direct involvement in the sinking of the campaign vessel. Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira died in the attack on the ship that was leading Greenpeace's campaign against French nuclear tests on the Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific. "I asked the president if he gave me permission to put into action the neutralisation plan that I had studied on the request of Monsieur (Charles) Hernu," Lacoste wrote. Hernu was defence minister at the time. "He gave me his agreement while stressing the importance he placed on the nuclear tests.
Global warming is approaching the point of no return, after which widespread drought, crop failure and rising sea levels will be irreversible, an international climate change task force warned Monday. It called on the Group of 8 leading industrial nations to cut carbon emissions, double their research spending on technology and work with India and China to build on the Kyoto Protocol for cuttings emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” blamed for global warming. “An ecological time bomb is ticking away,” said Stephen Byers, who was co-chairman of the task force with U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. “World leaders need to recognize that climate change is the single most important long-term issue that the planet faces.” According to the report, urgent action is needed to stop the global average temperature rising by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the level of the year 1750 — the approximate start of the Industrial Revolution, when mankind first started significantly adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. No accurate temperature readings were available for 1750, the report said, but since 1860 the global average temperature has risen by 0.8 percent to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).
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