Global Warming News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on global warming
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?
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.
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."
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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...
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."
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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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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.”
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.
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.
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."
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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".
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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.
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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.”
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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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