IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The so-called "Climategate" scandal, one year later; Cholera epidemic spreading in Haiti; Jan.-Sept. 2010 still hottest ever; Oil spill response plans for Arctic drilling "thoroughly inadequate"; Looking ahead to the lame duck session, and a Republican majority in Congress; PLUS: Here comes the son...Rand Paul on which throats are worth stomping... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Even some reusable bags carry environmental risk; U.N. climate talks seek limited deal as costs soar; Was a Houston energy trader a one-woman Enron?; Bye bye Bluefin tuna: Study reveals decade of mismanagement, overfishing; Fast food wrappers and popcorn bags leach fire-fighting chemical into food; Aging gas, hazmat pipelines threaten communities; Russia's Gazprom to drill off Cuba's coast; Nestle prompts MI move to put water under state protection ...PLUS: 9 things you can learn shadowing a home-energy inspector ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- UPDATE on Haiti: Cholera Death Toll Passes 1,000
- A Not So Happy Anniversary: Climategate Salvo Launched One Year Ago
- A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice:
The first anniversary of 'Climategate' & the media blows the story of the century (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:This week marks the one-year anniversary of what the anti-science crowd successfully labeled 'Climategate'. The media will be doing countless retrospectives, most of which will be wasted ink, like the Guardian's piece - focusing on climate scientists at the expense of climate science, which is precisely the kind of miscoverage that has been going on for the whole year!
The last year or so has seen more scientific papers and presentations that raise the genuine prospect of catastrophe (if we stay on our current emissions path) that I can recall seeing in any other year.
1. Nature: “Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton”:“Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”
3. Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path.: Dust-Bowlification may be the impact of human-caused climate change that hits the most people by mid-century...[MORE]
- The year climate science was redefined: The 12 months since the leaking of emails written by climate change scientists have seen major shifts in environmental debate (Guardian UK):
One year ago tomorrow more than a thousand emails between scientists in the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and their international colleagues were uploaded, unauthorised, on to a Russian FTP server. The story immediately went viral online, with lurid accusations of deception and illegality, and was soon picked up by the mainstream media.
How has the climate change story changed since then? And how important was "climategate" in catalysing this change? I believe there have been major shifts in how climate science is conducted, how the climate debate is framed and how climate policy is being formed. And I believe "climategate" played a role in all three.
- Climate scientist at the heart of emails controversy says he did nothing wrong: Dr Phil Jones said he had not deleted emails in response to FoI requests from critics (Guardian UK):
The personal emails and documents had been stolen from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) servers in November last year and leaked on to the internet. Climate sceptics seized on the contents as evidence that apparently showed Jones and his colleagues colluding to keep errors in their research hidden and prevent rivals' research from being published at all. Jones temporarily stood down from his post as head of the UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) while investigations were launched into his and his colleagues' conduct.
Jones and his team at CRU were cleared of any misconduct in an independent inquiry headed by former civil servant Sir Muir Russell earlier this year, who looked at whether the researchers had committed fraud or some other type of scientific misbehaviour. Russell found that there had been a "consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness" but he highlighted no reason to doubt the CRU team's honesty or integrity. Three other inquiries - two in the UK and one in the US - found no evidence of research fraud.
- Comprehensive Coverage: Climate Wars (Guardian UK)
- Looking Ahead to the "Lame Ducks" and a Republican-Controlled Congress:
- WATCH: Rand Paul Again Comes To BP's Defense: Obama's Tough Stance 'Sends The Wrong Signal' (Think Progress):
PAUL: But I don't think an American president should be talking about putting the boot heel on the throat of a corporation because it sends the wrong signal that the government is the enemy somehow of business. And we need to always recognize that one in 10 businesses succeeds. We need to do everything we can to encourage business because that's where the jobs are created.
- WATCH: House Energy Committee To Fall Into BP's Hands? (Countdown MNSBC):Joe Romm on Rebublican Climate Change Deniers: Shimkus, Barton, and the Say-Anything Pro Polluter Legislators
- Scenarios: Lawmakers May Tackle Energy in Lame Duck Session (Reuters):
The fate of the [renewable] energy tax credits could be tied to a deal between President Barack Obama and Republicans over Bush-era personal income tax cuts.
"A compromise on the Bush tax cuts increases the likelihood that expired and expiring energy taxes could be extended before year end," analysts at Robert W. Baird & Co. said in a research note.
- Climate Cues From the Next House Speaker: All the ways Boehner gets climate science so very, very wrong. (NYT Green)
- Issa downplays prospect of Oversight Committee 'climate-gate' probe: Issa has said he would probe the emails and climate science if Republicans regained the House, according to ClimateWire, the New Yorker and other outlets. (The Hill)
- John Rockefeller, Harry Reid to discuss climate vote (Politico):
Sen. John Rockefeller is planning to meet Tuesday with Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss a lame duck floor vote on a two-year freeze of the Environmental Protection Agency's climate change agenda.
Rockefeller has been pushing for much of the year to block EPA's climate change regulations for power plants, petroleum refiners and other major stationary sources. House Republicans assuming the majority next year are expected to go even further than a two-year moratorium and push for a complete ban.
- 'Lame Duck' Offers Glimmer of Hope On Energy Issues (Greenwire):
At least one energy measure will see congressional action this week, and a handful of hopeful Senate Democrats have lofty plans to cut through the partisan gridlock of recent months to move several climate and energy bills by year's end.
- Labor-Enviro Coalition Calls for Renewable Energy Standard in Lame Duck (Mother Jones)
- Money for Scientific Research May Be Scarce With a Republican-Led House (NY Times)
- Don't Forget the Nukes!: All Eyes on Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) As Obama Presses SALT Nuclear Treaty (Washington Post)
- ... But the Earth Doesn't "Do" Politics:
- NASA reports 2010 hottest year on record so far (Climate Progress):
Last month, NASA reported it was the hottest January-September on record. That followed a terrific analysis, "July 2010 - What Global Warming Looks Like," which noted that 2010 is "likely" to be warmest year on record.
This month continues the trend of 2010 outpacing previous years, according to NASA.
- Troposphere is Warming Too, Decades of Data Show (Reuters):
Not only is Earth's surface warming, but the troposphere --- the lowest level of the atmosphere, where weather occurs --- is heating up too, U.S. and British meteorologists reported on Monday.
- Oil Spill Response Plans for the Arctic "Thoroughly Inadequate":
- Oil Industry Unprepared to Clean Up Spill in Harsh Arctic Climate, Report Warns: The oil industry is pushing hard to drill in the Arctic but is unprepared to clean up an oil spill, according to a Pew study (Guardian UK)"
Trying to clean up a spill in the extreme conditions of the Arctic would be on an entirely different order of magnitude. "The risks, difficulties, and unknowns of oil exploration in the Arcticâ€¦are far greater than in any other area," the report said. The consequences for the Arctic's environment would be dire, it said, wiping out populations of walrus, seal and polar bear and destroying the isolated indigenous communities that depend on hunting to survive. Getting to the scene of a spill would be a challenge.
- Enviros Say They Will Sue Over Oil Dispersants in Alaskan Waters: An environmental group has filed a formal notice that it will sue the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard for authorizing oil dispersants without studying how they'll affect Alaska's polar bears, Cook Inlet beluga whales, Steller sea lions and other imperiled species. (AP)
- Tests Confirm Gulf Seafood Contains Toxic Oil (Raw Story)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Even Reusable Bags Carry Environmental Risk (NY Times):
the bags, hot items at upscale markets, may be on the verge of a glacier-size public relations problem: similar bags outside the city have been found to contain lead.
There is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public... But reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead. The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies; the Rochester-based Wegman's grocery chain recalled thousands of its bags, made of recycled plastic, in September.
- U.N. climate talks seek limited deal as costs soar (Reuters):
Almost 200 nations meet in Mexico this month to try to agree a "green fund" for poor countries and other steps toward an elusive climate treaty amid warnings that inaction is driving up the costs of tackling global warming.
After failure to agree a treaty at last year's summit in Copenhagen, ambitions for 2010 have been lowered to a modest package that includes a fund to manage aid to poor nations, new ways to share clean technology and to protect tropical forests.
- Special Report: Was a Houston energy trader a one-woman Enron? (Reuters):
By the standards of recent financial scandals, Stephanie Rae Roqumore's alleged $6.8 million natural gas trading scam may be small potatoes, but it raises some big questions.
How could a lone natural gas trader in Houston dupe some of the world's biggest energy companies?
- Bluefin Tuna Regulators Under Pressure To Protect Species (Nature News) [emphasis added]:
As fisheries regulators meet to weigh the fate of Atlantic bluefin tuna, they are coming under mounting pressure to suspend the entire bluefin industry until allegations of mismanagement can be resolved.
But the meeting will be overshadowed by a report, released this week, which documents a decade of illegal fishing of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks, leading to the fishery's near-collapse and a black market worth around US$4 billion.
A single Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) can weigh more than 500 kilograms and sell for more than $100,000 in Japanese markets. But the profitable market for the species has left it depleted to roughly 35% of its historic levels, according to ICCAT.
- Chargrilled and fire-retardant all in one: Fast food wrappers and popcorn bags leach fire-fighting chemical into food (Treehugger via Grist):
A new study has found that perfluoroalkyls, synthetic chemicals that repel oil and are used on paper packaging like food wrappers and popcorn bags to prevent grease from leaking through them, can migrate directly into food --- and then into human blood, where these chemicals have already been found.
- Aging Gas, Hazmat Pipelines Threaten Schools, Streets, Homes (Houston Chronicle):
They wind underground beneath homes, across plains and through the state's most populous cities. And, according to a Houston Chronicle investigation, more than half of the major natural gas transmission lines in Texas were laid more than 40 years ago and now are vulnerable to failure.
- Gazprom of Russia to Drill For Oil In Cuban Waters: The Russian energy giant Gazprom has joined a growing list of companies that plan to drill for oil in the waters off Cuba, close to the United States but out of reach of its safety regulators. (NY Times)
- Nestle Bid Prompts Move to Put Michigan's Water Under State Protection (Living On Earth):
Michiganders don't have to worry much about having an adequate supply of water. But efforts by Nestlé to bottle water in the state, and the prospect of drier times in a climate-changed future, are leading some residents to try to put Michigan groundwater under permanent protection.
- 9 things I learned by shadowing a home-energy inspector (Grist):
Weatherizing homes to cut heat waste makes all kinds of good sense --- it lowers utility bills, makes homes more comfortable, creates building-industry jobs, saves energy, is both a floor wax and a dessert topping, etc.
Let's take a look at how this stuff works on the ground.
I ventured out into the Real World (soon to be acquired by Google) last Friday to shadow Paul Holt, who runs home-energy inspections for the Seattle company EcoFab....