Global Warming News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Global Warming News Articles in Media
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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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.
There are some 20,000 research papers listed on Google Scholar, a search engine for academics, that mention the worst-case scenario for climate change. Basically, it’s the most cataclysmic estimate of global warming. This scenario is important to scientists. According to a provocative new analysis from the University of British Columbia, it’s also wrong. This is good news. The researchers contend that current goals of reducing coal, oil and gas consumption may be closer than we think. The basic issue has to do with coal. Quite simply, the more we burn, the faster we destroy the atmosphere. The darkest scenario assumes much more coal burning will take place in this century than is likely to happen, according to the study’s authors. For example, the most extreme worst-case storyline assumes that by 2100 coal would grow to 94 percent of the world energy supply. In 2015, that figure was about 28 percent. The new work, published this week in Environmental Research Letters, shows just how much all that phantom coal may be distorting our picture of what the future may look like. It casts “doubt on whether this outlook is still valid,” the researchers write. The amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of using energy - called the carbon intensity of energy - has been slipping for decades. The drop in carbon intensity is likely to continue. [The new study] suggest that climate scenarios should be adjusted to capture this “passive decarbonization.”
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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.”
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, addressed the insurance industry on climate change [in 2015]. He dropped a bombshell on the oil industry. His message was twofold. First, if the world seriously intended to limit global warming to 2şC, most of the coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground would be left “stranded”, or unrecoverable. Second, a task force would be set up to prompt companies to disclose how they planned to manage risks and prepare for a 2şC world, similar to the one created to improve risk disclosure by banks after the financial crisis. Mr Carney’s remarks presaged a change in attitude towards oil companies by governments, financial regulators and investors that has become clearer since the Paris climate-change agreement last December. The Securities and Exchange Commission, America’s stockmarket regulator, is investigating whether ExxonMobil, the country’s biggest oil company, values its untapped reserves appropriately in light of the recent halving of oil prices and potential regulatory action on climate change. In October it said it might write down about one-fifth of its reserves. The company has faced related probes by New York’s attorney-general. The industry may come under further pressure. If measures to stop global warming are fully implemented, oil-company revenues could fall by more than $22trn over the next 25 years, more than twice the predicted decline for the gas and coal industries combined.
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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.
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.
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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.
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 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.
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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.
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