IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hundreds dead in massive Sierra Leone mudslide triggered by torrential rains; This year's Gulf of Mexico dead zone is largest on record; 124 degrees for ten days straight in Iraq, as scientists warn 'super heat waves' to get more frequent across globe; Fossil fuel industry gets $5 trillion in subsidies per year; PLUS: It's not your imagination, Florida --- sea levels really are rising faster in the Southeast... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Fast-melting Arctic an ominous sign'; Global warming explodes devastating larch beetle population; Exxon refinery still pumping toxins into black community in Texas; Trump EPA polluter fines drop 60%; Alaskan towns face rising seas as Trump Admin cancels federal help; EPA Pruitt carrying out his deregulatory agenda in secret; US and Mexico finalize CO River water deal; Houston is missing the next energy revolution; UT counties testing 'molten salt' nuclear power ... PLUS: The West's latest mining frenzy is over 'extraterrestrial' gold.... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Hundreds dead in mudslides in Sierra Leone:
- Sierra Leone mudslide: president calls for urgent help as search continues (Guradian UK):
More than 300 people are dead, thousands still missing and many more left homeless after mud engulfs houses near the capital, Freetown...A national emergency has been called after the city suffered heavy flooding, thought to be the worst in Africa over the past two decades...Alex Carle, director of international programmes at the British Red Cross, said the death toll is likely to rise, adding: “The spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea following flooding is also a huge concern.”
- Sierra Leone mudslides: Help needed urgently - president (BBC)
- The Latest: Sierra Leone survivors describe mudslides (ABC News)
- Mandatory heat wave 'holiday' declared in Iraq:
- Iraq sends workers home as 'ungodly' heat grips Middle East (Guardian UK):
Power networks struggle in Baghdad and building work halted in Riyadh, while high humidity affects coastal cities.
- An epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser (Washington Post):
Tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by battles between government forces and Islamic State militants have endured the heat in tents and other makeshift shelters. Humanitarian organizations have been unable to reach all of them because of budget constraints, restrictions by Iraq’s government and risks associated with operating in war zones.
- 'Super heat waves' to get more frequent on current emissions path:
- New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked (Climate Progress):
Temperatures in the Middle East are already soaring past 120°F, while a heat wave named "Lucifer" scorches Europe...But, new research says, we ain’t seen nothing yet. A new study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union’s science and research lab, finds that “if global temperatures rise with 4°C [7°F], a new super heat wave of 55°C [131°F] can hit regularly many parts of the world, including Europe” and the United States.
- Deadly 'super heatwaves' of 55°C will sweep across the US east coast, China, India, South America and Europe if global warming goes unchecked (Daily Mail)
- IMF: Fossil fuel industry receives $5 trillion in subsidies every year:
- Fossil fuel subsidies are a staggering $5 tn per year (Guradian UK):
A new study finds 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidizing dirty fossil fuels
- Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Still Total More Than $5 Trillion Annually (Clean Technica):
Not all of that is in the form of cash money. Much of it is in avoided costs — things the fossil fuel crowd are responsible for but are excused from paying for. They include “not only supply costs but also environmental costs like global warming and deaths from air pollution and taxes applied to consumer goods in general.” The authors argue that this broader view of subsidies is the correct view because they “reflect the gap between consumer prices and economically efficient prices.” They do not include such incidentals as the US military...
- NOAA: Gulf of Mexico dead zone largest on record:
- Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ is the largest ever measured (NOAA.gov):
June outlook foretold New Jersey-sized area of low oxygen
- AUDIO: The Gulf Of Mexico's Dead Zone Is The Biggest Ever Seen (NPR):
Farmers use those nutrients on fields as fertilizer. Rain washes them into nearby streams and rivers. And when they reach the Gulf of Mexico, those nutrients unleash blooms of algae, which then die and decompose. That is what uses up the oxygen in a thick layer of water at the bottom of the Gulf, in a band that follows the coastline..."Fish that can swim will move out of the way. Organisms that are living on the bottom, that the fish feed on, can't move, and they often die," Scavia says.
- Nutrient pollution: Voluntary steps are failing to shrink algae blooms and dead zones (The Conversation):
The United States contributes over 80 percent of Lake Erie’s total phosphorus load. In sum, major load reductions will have to come from agriculture, mostly from U.S. farms...But in the Mississippi River basin this [voountary] approach has failed. In spite of more than 30 years of research and monitoring, over 15 years of assessments and goal-setting, and over US$30 billion in federal conservation funding since 1995, average nitrogen levels in the Mississippi have not declined since the 1980s.
- Sea levels really are rising faster in the Southeastern U.S.:
- The Sea Level Did, in Fact, Rise Faster in the Southeast U.S. (NY Times):
For people in the southeastern United States, and especially in Florida, who feel that annoying tidal flooding has sneaked up on them in recent years, it turns out to be true. And scientists have a new explanation. In a paper published online Wednesday, University of Florida researchers calculated that from 2011 to 2015, the sea level along the American coastline south of Cape Hatteras rose six times faster than the long-term rate of global increase.
- Sea Level Rise Is Speeding Up in Parts of the Southeastern U.S. (E&E News):
A combination of natural factors has driven the rise, but climate change has exacerbated the problem...“Things can really change in five years, and when you look at the projections, you don’t really get that sense,” she said. “I think the projections give you a false sense of security because you say, ‘OK, we’re not going to get to this level until the year 2060 or whatever.’ But in reality, it can happen much faster.”
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page
- Science Says: Fast-Melting Arctic Sign Of Bad Global Warming (AP):
One of the coldest places on Earth is so hot it’s melting. Glaciers, sea ice and a massive ice sheet in the Arctic are thawing from toasty air above and warm water below. The northern polar region is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet and that’s setting off alarm bells...“The melting of the Arctic will come to haunt us all,” said German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf.
- Climate Explodes Larch Beetle Numbers, Transforming Minnesota Forests (Minneapolis Star-Tribune):
Eastern larch beetles, tiny burrowing bugs native to Minnesota, are exploding in number across the state’s northern forest and have killed or damaged about a third of the state’s tamarack trees — one of the first clear signs of a rapidly changing climate.
- The West’s Latest Mining Frenzy? Extraterrestrial Gold (High Country News):
Companies are hunting for lithium near Moab, Utah." "White Oil, Oro Blanco, Extraterrestrial Gold: lithium, the lightweight element key to rechargeable batteries, has recently acquired a slew of hyperbolic nicknames. As the demand for electric cars, laptops and smartphones has surged, the search is on for more domestic sources of this energy-critical element.
- A Legacy of Environmental Racism (The Intercept):
Exxon Mobil Is Still Pumping Toxins into Black Community in Texas 17 Years After Civil Rights Complaint...A block and a half from Gaines’s house, the street ends in an Exxon Mobil refinery that processes “sour crude,” oil that contains high amounts of sulfur. The process of removing the impurities and refining the oil into gasoline produces sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and other gases that can cause respiratory, neurological, cardiac, and other serious health problems. Those gasses also give the neighborhood a rotten egg odor that occasionally wafted in with the warm breeze as Gaines and I sat on his porch.
- Polluter Fines Drop 60 Percent Under Trump (Washington Post):
The Trump administration has collected 60 percent less from civil penalties for environmental wrongdoing than the administrations of presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did on average in their first six months in office.
- Alaskan Towns Facing Rising Seas Alarmed As Trump Pulls Federal Help (Guardian UK):
The US government’s withdrawal from dealing with, or even acknowledging, climate change may have provoked widespread opprobrium, but for Alaskan communities at risk of toppling into the sea, the risks are rather more personal.
- Scott Pruitt Is Carrying Out His EPA Agenda in Secret, Critics Say (NY Times):
When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is, according to interviews with employees of the fedeal agency.
- U.S. and Mexico Finalizing Colorado River Deal (Palm Springs Desert Sun):
The U.S. and Mexican governments may be sharply at odds on President Donald Trump's plan for a border wall, but when it comes to water – and the potential for a major shortage along the Colorado River – the two sides seem to be on the same page.
- Is Houston missing the next energy wave? (Houston Chronicle) [emphasis added]:
City failing to draw new tech ventures for a world shifting from fossil fuels...For all its dominance in oil and gas, and all the brain power devoted to getting more from out of the ground and under the sea, Houston has very few young companies incubating new technologies and very few large ones that conduct clean energy research here..."Why would entrepreneurs come to Houston, when they could move to San Francisco, where it's easier to raise money?" Coburn asks.
- New battery material goes with the flow (Argonne National Laboratory):
The material, created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, consists of carefully structured molecules designed to be particularly electrochemically stable in order to prevent the battery from losing energy to unwanted reactions. The results of the experiment, some of the best ever recorded for batteries of this type, are published today in Advanced Energy Materials. In this type of battery, called nonaqueous redox flow, energy is stored in negatively and positively charged solutions inside large tanks.
- Intimidation or accountability? A mining company goes after Kentucky regulators' own money (Louisville Courier-Journal):
The family of the newest Republican governor – billionaire Jim Justice of West Virginia is going after the personal assets of two top Kentucky environmental regulators after Kentucky sought to collect millions in unpaid fines from the coal-mining companies they control.
- 7 Utah counties exploring experimental nuclear power from ‘molten salt’ (Salt Lake Tribune):
Rural Utah counties looking to partner with firm proposing to produce medical isotopes, other valuable materials
- Sierra Club Sues U.S. Energy Department Over Power Grid Study (Reuters):
Environmental group the Sierra Club sued the U.S. Energy Department on Monday in hopes of forcing it to reveal the groups it has consulted in conducting an eagerly awaited study on the electricity grid.
- FERC's Chatterjee: Coal plants should be 'properly compensated' for grid value (Utility Dive):
The interim chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission endorsed enhanced compensation for coal generators and said the resource should remain part of the U.S. power mix in an appearance on the agency's podcast.
- U.S. scientists contradict Trump's climate claims (AP) [emphasis added]:
"There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate," says the report, citing thousands of peer-reviewed studies. "Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans"...[T]he draft federal report sends the overriding message that failing to curb carbon pollution now will exacerbate negative consequences in the future. That assessment calls into question the wisdom of Trump's environmental and energy policies..."
- The Uninhabitable Earth: When will climate change make earth too hot for humans? (New York Magazine):
Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak - sooner than you think.
- A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
- No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.
FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page