ExxonMobil tried to mislead, scientists say
2007-01-04, Boston Globe/Associated Press
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.
Dirty Secret: Green Cars Automakers Won't Sell You
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.
Climate Experts Worry as 2006 Is Hottest Year on Record in U.S.
2007-01-10, Washington Post
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.
Bribes offered to scientists
2007-02-03, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
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.
Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half
2007-02-18, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Within five years, solar power will be cheap enough to compete with carbon-generated electricity. In a decade, the cost may have fallen so dramatically that solar cells could undercut oil, gas, coal and nuclear power by up to half. Anil Sethi, the chief executive of the Swiss start-up company Flisom, says he looks forward to the day - not so far off - when entire cities in America and Europe generate their heating, lighting and air-conditioning needs from solar films on buildings with enough left over to feed a surplus back into the grid. The secret? A piece of dark polymer foil, as thin as a sheet of paper. It is so light it can be stuck to the sides of buildings. It can be mass-produced in cheap rolls like packaging - in any colour. The "tipping point" will arrive when the capital cost of solar power falls below $1 (51p) per watt, roughly the cost of carbon power. The best options today vary from $3 to $4 per watt - down from $100 in the late 1970s. Mr Sethi believes his product will cut the cost to 80 cents per watt within five years, and 50 cents in a decade. "We don't need subsidies, we just need governments to get out of the way and do no harm," he said. Solar use [has] increased dramatically in Japan and above all Germany, where Berlin's green energy law passed in 2004 forces the grid to buy surplus electricity from households at a fat premium. The tipping point in Germany and Japan came once households [understood] that they could undercut their unloved utilities. Credit Lyonnais believes the rest of the world will soon join the stampede. Needless to say, electricity utilities are watching the solar revolution with horror.
Note: Why is this inspiring, important news getting so little press coverage? And why not more solar subsidies? For a possible answer, click here. For an amazing new energy source not yet reported in the major media which could make even solar energy obsolete, click here.
Scientists muzzled, Congress told
2007-03-21, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
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.
Exxon's 'outlandish' earnings spark furor
2007-02-02, Globe and Mail (One of Canada's Leading Newspapers)
The world's largest publicly owned oil company announced yesterday the largest corporate profit ever, but news of its near $40-billion (U.S.) windfall in 2006 sparked an angry backlash, coming on the eve of a major report blaming the use of fossil fuels for wreaking devastation on the planet. Exxon shares have risen by about 20 per cent in the past year. Exxon wasn't alone in unprecedented oil earnings. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, an Anglo-Dutch company, and U.S.-run Marathon Oil and Valero Energy, also posted best-ever annual results yesterday. And ConocoPhillips Co., also American, last week posted its highest profits. Profits at the five companies together totalled $91.1-billion -- in a year when drivers paid record prices for gasoline. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have also urged Exxon to end its funding of organizations that deny the existence of -- or minimize the seriousness of -- human-made global warming. Scientists yesterday accused the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which receives funding from Exxon, of offering scientists up to $10,000 for articles that undercut a report to be released today from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Last month, the Union of Concerned Scientists ... said that Exxon has spent $16 million over the past 10 years financing organizations that deny the seriousness of climate change. Alden Meyer, a strategist with the group, compared Exxon's efforts to discredit the science of global warming to the tobacco companies' efforts to sow doubts about the link between smoking and lung cancer in order to protect their profits.
Note: If the article link above does not work, click here. Compare this Canadian article with the New York Times reporting of this record profit, or that of any other major U.S. newspaper. The U.S. press barely mentions that oil company gouging which took dollars from your pocket is what led to record profits. To understand why the U.S. press behaves in this way, click here.
Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island
2006-12-24, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
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.
Science a la Joe Camel
2006-11-26, Washington Post
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, [NSTA] 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.
U.S. bars talk of climate change effects on bears
2007-03-08, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (One of Seattle's two leading newspapers)
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.
Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him
2006-01-29, New York Times
After [a] speech and the release of data by Dr. [James] 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.
We Could Be Ignoring the Biggest Story in Our History
2006-01-18, Washington Post
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.
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