IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The U.S. Forest Service warns AZ's record wildfire is just the tip of the melting iceberg; Now a 2nd study warns warmer winters are the new normal; More bad news for nukes, as Italy votes against them, and a plant in Nebraska is now threatened; PLUS: Ethanol subsidies saved from the chopping block --- for now ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US Nuclear Plant Safety Rules Inadequate; "Humans 'blissfully unaware' of coming climate crisis"; Sunspot Drop Won't Cause Global Cooling; EPA Administrator Calls Out Power Utilities; House Moves to Bar Genetically Modified Salmon; China in Lead Poisoning Cover-UP, Says Human Rights Watch; OH To Allow Oil and Gas Drilling at State Parks; A Green Solution, or the Dark Side to Cleaner Coal?; Building The Food Ark?; Google invests in home solar ... PLUS: Green jobs are real: U.S. solar employs more people than steel ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- AZ's Wallow Fire Now Largest in State History
- Arizona fires: Wallow Fire closing in on 490,000 acres (Arizona Republic)
- Two People Questioned Over Arizona Fire (NPR)
- US Forest Service Warns AZ's Fire Just the Tip of the Melting Iceberg
- Climate Change Link to Fires Ignites Senate Committee: (NY Times):
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, one of the witnesses present at the hearing, cited research from within the service to link fires and climate change.
"Throughout the country, we're seeing longer fire seasons, and we're seeing snowpacks that, on average, are disappearing a little earlier every spring," he said, as well as devastating droughts. As a result, fire seasons have lengthened by more than 30 days, on average.
"Our scientists believe this is due to a change in climate," said Tidwell.
- Wallow Fire may be preview of things to come, experts say (AZCentral.com) [emphasis added]:
Experts urge aggressive action to stave off monster forest fires
As the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona grows to nearly half a million blackened acres, experts say the Southwest has entered an era of monster fires, sprawling infernos that, if they continue to erupt, could wipe out half of the state's pine forests in another decade.
"It's way too late to be thinking on a scale of 10,000 acres," said Wally Covington, executive director of Northern Arizona University's Ecological Restoration Institute. "We have to think and act on a scale of a million or more acres."
- Fire's Manifest Destiny: How the West Was Lost (TomDispatch.com)
- http://wxug.us/bmld\">U.S. had most extreme spring on record for precipitation (Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground) [emphasis added]:
There's never been a spring this extreme for combined wet and dry extremes in the U.S. since record keeping began over a century ago, statistics released last week by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reveal.
During the spring period of March, April, and May 2011, 46% of the nation had abnormally (top 10%) wet or dry conditions--the greatest such area during the 102-year period of record. On average, just 21% of the country has exceptionally wet conditions or exceptionally dry conditions during spring.
- Arizonans tell of harrowing brush with wildfire (Reuters)
- Worst drought in more than a century threatens Texas oil boom (Bloomberg)
- Memo to Baucus: Your state’s trees are being ravaged (Grist, 10/30/2009)
- Is human-caused climate change killing the great forests of the American West? (Climate Progress 3/16/2010)
- Warmer Winters Are the 'New Normal'
- WITH GRAPHS!: NOAA: The new normal is hot (Grist.org):
NOAA just released the latest climate "normals" for the USA. When you hear the "average high" or "average low", it's a running, 30-year average. Data was just updated to show the first decade of the 21st century.
The data shows a distinct warming trend, factoring in the last decade's worth of highs and lows, a 2-4 temperature increase for January low temperatures.
- READ the NOAA Report: "1981-2010 Climate Normals" [pdf] (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- USGS: Global Warming Drives Rockies Snowpack Loss Unrivaled in 800 Years, Threatens Western Water Supply (Climate Progress):
The La Niña episode this year is an example with lots of snow in the north while severe drought afflicts the south. But, in the north, this year’s gains are only a small blip on a century-long snowpack decline.
“What we have seen in the last few decades may signal a fundamental shift from precipitation to temperature as the dominant influence on western snowpack” [lead author USGS scientist Gregory] Pederson said.
- 1,000-Year Record Shows Unusual Snowpack Declines --- Study (NY Times):
Snowpack has in fact been declining in recent decades, and a new U.S. Geological Survey-led study shows the decrease since the 1980s is more significant than at any other time in the past 1,000 years.
- Mother Nature is Just Getting Warmed Up: June 2011 Heat Records Crushing Cold Records by 13 to 1 (Think Progress Green)
- More Bad News For Nukes Around the World:
- Missouri River Flood: Low Level Emergency Declared at Omaha Nuclear Power Plant: The Omaha Public Power District on Monday declared a low-level emergency at its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station due to rising Missouri River waters. (Omaha Journal Star)
- Three-Quarters Of Japanese Favor Nuclear Power Phase-Out (Reuters):
Nearly three-quarters of Japanese voters want to see a gradual phase-out of nuclear power, a newspaper poll showed on Tuesday, the latest sign of concerns about atomic safety as the country struggles with the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
- Italy Says Goodbye to Nuclear Energy [And rejects water privatization, too] (Environment News Service):
Italy will not return to nuclear power any time soon, as Italian voters Monday rejected a referendum proposal by the government of Silvio Berlusconi to restart the country's moribund nuclear energy program.
The Berlusconi government had planned to get 25 percent of Italy's energy mix from nuclear power by 2020. Italian voters have now blocked that plan.
Some 55 percent of registered voters went to the polls to decide on four ballot measures - two on the privatization of water, one proposing a return to nuclear energy and a fourth allowing the premier to miss hearings in his trial on charges he had sex with an underage prostitute. He denies the charges.
- Italians Vote to Abandon Nuclear Energy (Wall St. Journal):
Italians voted to abandon nuclear power for the foreseeable future, turning out in droves to cast ballots in a packet of referenda whose outcome is a sign of growing popular discontent toward Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government.
- Japan anti-nuclear protesters rally after quake (Reuters) [emphasis added]:
Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters marched in Japan on Saturday, three months after an earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, urging the government to cut reliance on atomic power.
"If they don't get the message now, what else has to happen before we stop using atomic energy which has proved so dangerous?" said kindergarten worker Yu Matsuda, 28.
- US Nuclear Plant Safety Rules Inadequate, Group Says: (NY Times):
Nuclear safety rules in the United States do not adequately weigh the risk that a single event would knock out electricity from both the grid and from emergency generators, as an earthquake and tsunami recently did at a nuclear plant in Japan, officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday.
- Japanese unite against nuclear power (UK Morning Star):
Tens of thousands of people marched through central Tokyo on Saturday to press the government to ditch nuclear power in light of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.
Demonstrations were also staged in Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukushima, where Tepco bosses have failed to stem radiation leaks from their reactors since the March 11 magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out power and cooling systems.
- High Level of Strontium Found at Fukushima Plant (Japan Times):
Radioactive strontium up to 240 times the legal concentration limit has been detected in seawater samples collected near an intake at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.
- $6 Billion in Ethanol Subsidies Safe --- FOR NOW
- Effort to End Tax Credit for Ethanol Fails in Senate (NY Times):
The Senate beat back a challenge to ethanol fuel subsidies on Tuesday in a demonstration of how the drive to cut the federal deficit can run headlong into a favored interest on Capitol Hill.
Most Democrats banded together with farm-state Republicans to defeat the effort by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, who along with his allies charged that federal ethanol supports are wasteful and unnecessary and are increasing the cost of food by inflating the price being paid for corn.
Those who opposed [the amendment], while acknowledging that the ethanol subsidies are likely to be eased out eventually, said it would be disruptive to the agricultural and fuel markets to make a sudden change.
- Ethanol Subsidies: Grover Norquist Rebuked By GOP (Huffington Post Green)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- US Nuclear Plant Safety Rules Inadequate, Group Says (NY Times)
- Father of LEED: Humans 'blissfully unaware' of coming climate crisis: "Whether we like it or not, S.S. Business-as-usual has already hit the iceberg," he said. "And we just don't quite know it yet." (SmartPlanet)
- Sunspot Drop Won't Cause Global Cooling (Wired Science)
- EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Calls Out Power Utilities (Mother Nature Network):
EPA chief Lisa Jackson told the Senate Environment Committee Wednesday that American Electric Power's recent narrative about job loss resulting from EPA's mercury regulations was were "misleading at best and scare tactics at worst.
- House Moves to Bar Genetically Modified Salmon (AP):
The House voted Wednesday to prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption.
- China in Lead Poisoning Cover-UP, Says Human Rights Watch (BBC):
China has been accused of trying to cover up the extent of lead poisoning among children, and of blocking effective testing and treatment.
- Ohio Senate Approves Bill To Allow Oil and Gas Drilling at State Parks (Cleveland Plain Dealer):
Ohio's state parks will be open for oil and natural gas drilling for the first time under legislation the state Senate passed on Wednesday.
- Special Report: A Green Solution, or the Dark Side to Cleaner Coal? (International Herald Tribune)/li>
- The Food Ark: The looming crisis in population and agriculture (National Geographic):
A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we'll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren't increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we've come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply-but we must take steps to save them.
- Home solar gets $280 million boost from Google (Christian Science Monitor):
Under [the home] solar program, homeowners would get free rooftop panels, paying set amount for the power.
The $280 million deal with installer SolarCity is the largest of its kind. SolarCity can use the funds to pay for a solar system that it can offer to residents for no money down. In exchange, customers agree to pay a set price for the power produced by the panels.
Google earns a return on its investment by charging SolarCity interest to use its money and reaping the benefits of federal and local renewable energy tax credits.
- Green jobs are real: U.S. solar employs more people than steel (Think Progress Green):
People want to know: Are green jobs real? The answer is resoundingly "yes."
With roughly 93,500 direct and indirect jobs, the American solar industry now employs about 20,000 more workers than the U.S. steel production sector. The American steel industry has historically been a symbol of the country's industrial might and economic prosperity. But today, the solar industry has the potential to overtake that image as we build a new, clean-energy economy.