IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama calls for crackdown on Wall St. oil speculators --- cue rightwing freakout in 3..2..1..; Taxpayers save lives in latest tornado outbreaks; New rules for frackers; PLUS: Good news for millions who depend on water from the Himalayas.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Surprise! Extra CO2 not good for plants after all; Solar energy breakthrough mimics photosynthesis to generate electricity; Los Angeles hailed as 'model of sustainaiblity'?; Grow your own biofuel from a cement kiln; No damage to bird populations from wind farms; Restoring Louisiana coast a national priority; Military conflict over Arctic resources?; Internal docs show dangers from new TX radioactive waste dump ... PLUS: Titanic director James Cameron: "We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can't turn" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Obama Proposes New Rules To Rein In Wall St. Oil Speculators:
- Obama proposal would rein in oil speculation (CNN):
The president's $52 million plan would let regulators force energy traders to put more of their own money into trades and boost the penalties on manipulators who are found to be speculating unlawfully...
The president will call on Congress to:
• boost spending on technology to improve oversight and surveillance of energy markets.
• increase by six times the money spent on surveillance and enforcement staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to better deter oil market manipulation.
• increase from $1 million to $10 million civil and criminal penalties against firms that engage in market manipulation.
• in an effort designed to limit energy market disruptions, give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission authority to increase the amount of money that a trader must put up to back a trading position.
- Reid working with White House on bill to boost oil market oversight (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Romney calls White House plan to curb oil market abuses a 'gimmick' (The Hill's E2 Wire):
"President Obama's government by gimmick is reaching another new low today," Romney said in a statement. "While American families struggle to pay gas prices that have doubled on his watch, the President's only solutions are to target oil and gas producers for higher taxes and now to dramatically increase federal regulation."
- House panel approves energy bills amid war over gas prices (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- AP Fact Check: In 36 Years Of Data, Not A Shred Of Evidence That Drilling Reduces Gas Prices (Think Progress Green)
- Senate GOP Try To Shift Blame From Big Oil For Rising Gas Prices With Blatant Falsehoods (Think Progress Green)
- Rightwing Freakout Over New Rules for Oil Speculators, Profiteers:
- VIDEO: Rush: Crackdown On Oil Speculators "Makes Me Wonder" If Obama Will "Go Hugo Chavez On Big Oil" And Nationalize Oil Companies (Media Matters.org)
- Karl Rove Group That Absurdly Blames Obama For Rising Gas Prices Was Bankrolled By Top Oil Speculator (Climate Progress):
Crossroads GPS, a political organization run by strategist Karl Rove, has spent $1.7 million on a new national ad campaign blaming President Obama for making gasoline cost "too much." But the organization has in the past received substantial funding from Paul Singer, manager of a hedge fund responsible for some of the highest volume of oil trading in the country.
- Pro-Oil Outside Groups Spend More Than $16 Million On Energy Attack Ads Since January (Climate Progress):
A handful of outside groups, fueled by oil and coal dollars, are committing tens of millions to propel Big Oil to the forefront of the 2012 elections — outspending the Obama campaign on political energy ads by an overwhelming amount.
- Thank YOU: TAXPAYERS Save Lives in Latest Tornado Outbreaks:
- Today's Tornadoes: Why This Warning Is Different (WeatherBug.com):
WHY EARLIER WARNINGS: In the past, people often have had only minutes of warning when a siren went off. But improvements in storm modeling and technology let forecasters predict storms earlier and with greater confidence, the National Weather Service says. The Storm Prediction Center is part of the service.
NEW WARNING LANGUAGE: The weather service is now testing words such as "mass devastation," "unsurvivable" and "catastrophic" aimed at getting more people to take heed. The warnings are being experimented with in Kansas and Missouri...
- VIDEO: Tornado Strikes Prom At Kansas High School, Students Spend Night In Shelter (CBS, via Huffington Post Green)
- Government Saves Countless Lives From Tornadoes In Koch And Inhofe Country (Brad Johnson, Climate Progress):
Over 100 tornadoes struck down in 24 hours, but only six people died in Oklahoma, Sen. Jim Inhofe's home state, thanks to warnings from the National Weather Service scientists he has worked to discredit.
- Surviving a Deadly Twister, Twice in 65 Years (NY Times)
- Is Global Warming Turbo-Charging Tornadoes? No:
- The Weekend of 100 Tornadoes: Are Killer Storms Being Fueled by Climate Change? (TIME's Eco-Centric):
It's not just a matter of focusing public attention, however; extreme-weather events kill tens of thousands of people every year, and take a sizable chunk out of the global economy - not something anyone's likely to fail to notice. Last year the U.S. experienced a dozen natural disasters that caused a billion or more dollars in damages, ranging from Hurricane Irene in September to the lingering drought in Texas and the Southwest. If climate change is really supercharging extreme weather - causing death and mayhem - that's one more reason to get a grip on carbon emissions fast.
- New Rules For Frackers:
- EPA to set rules today on fracking (Great Falls Tribune):
Air pollution from fracking includes the fumes breathed in by people nearby, as well as smog spread over a wide region and emissions of the greenhouse gas methane.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce today the first national rules to reduce air pollution at hydraulically fractured - fracked - wells and some other oil and gas industry operations.
- Good News for Millions: Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing:
- Himalayan glaciers could be growing, new study finds (CS Monitor) [emphasis added]:
A new study published in Nature Geoscience has discovered Himalayan glaciers that are not shrinking at all. They could be getting larger.
"We don't want this study to be seen as questioning the planet's global warming," she told LiveScience. "With global warming we can get higher precipitation at high altitudes and latitudes, so thickening isn't out of the question."
- Study: Glaciers in western Himalayas bucking global melting trend (CNN):
Lead author, Julie Gardelle from University of Grenoble in France says explanations for this increase are still not clear, but might lie in the localized climate.
"Given the wide extent of high mountain Asia, we cannot expect the climate to be uniform over the whole range, so a peculiar atmospheric behavior over Karakoram may not be surprising," she added.
- Meanwhile: Antarctic ice shelves 'tearing apart', says study: A new satellite study of ice shelves in West Antarctica has revealed they are steadily losing their grip with adjacent land and could intensify the acceleration of ice loss in the area. (CNN)
- Collapse of Antarctic Ice Sheet Linked to Ancient 'Mega Flood' (Live Science):
Dramatic warming at the end of the last ice age produced an intense rise in sea level and a massive ice sheet collapse in the Antarctic. The sea level rise is known as Melt-Water Pulse 1A, and new research indicates it increased sea level by about 45 feet (14 meters) sometime between 14,650 and 14,310 years ago, during the same time as a period of rapid climate change known as the Bølling warming.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- VIDEO: Hey Deniers. Corn Called. CO2 Not all That Good for Plants. (Climate Crock of the Week)(li>
- Solar Energy Breakthrough Rivals Speed of Natural Photosynthesis, Sets Solar Energy World Record (Treehugger):
Researchers at the Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology have created a catalyst that can break water into oxygen and protons (which become hydrogen) at a turnover rate of 300 oxygen molecules per second per catalyst. The rate sets a world record for "turnover frequency," and represents an important breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis.
- Southern California hailed as model of sustainability (LA Times):
A 25-year, $524-billion plan that emphasizes public transit and walkable communities points the way to a better future
The plan includes expansion of housing near public transit by 60%, a 350% increase in funding for biking and pedestrian improvements and projections of more than 4 million new jobs - with public transit within half a mile of most of them. Amanda Eaken of the Natural Resources Defense Council praised it as "the strongest transportation plan" in the history of "car-loving Southern California." She added that it would save more than "400 square miles of open space - more than a third the size of Yosemite - from development by shifting to a more walkable land use pattern."
- Expert says all Pa. oil, gas waste needs treatment (The Penn Reporter):
A former top environmental official says Pennsylvania's successful efforts to keep Marcellus Shale wastewater away from drinking water supplies should be extended to all other oil and gas drillers. "It's the same industry. It is the same contaminants. And the goal should be the same," said George Jugovic Jr., who was formerly the Department of Environmental Protection's southwest regional director. He's now president of PennFuture, an environmental group.
- Pond Biofuels Takes CO2 From Cement Kiln, Grows Algae And Turns It Into Biofuel (Treehugger)
- Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds (Guardian UK):
A large majority of birds can co-exist or thrive with operating windfarms, but some species are harmed during construction, says new study.
- Restoring Louisiana coast a national priority, report says (NOLA.com):
Louisiana and the nation can't wait 50 years to restore economically and environmentally important coastal wetlands, a task that is likely to cost $50 billion or more, says a new report released Monday by a team of state and national environmental and social scientists and engineers. And the rest of the nation should shoulder part of the cost, the report says.
- Little Colorado Water Rights Bill Met With Protests From Navajo and Hopi Communities (Indian Country Today):
Protests on the Navajo Nation have been in high gear ever since last week, when tribal members and activists got wind of a proposed settlement that aims to help quantify Navajo water rights on the Little Colorado River.
Trouble is, many Navajo citizens believe the settlement may actually erode the tribe’s sovereignty when it comes to maintaining a safe and sufficient future water supply.
- Japan to be without nuclear power after May 5 (Reuters):
Japan will within weeks have no nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years, after the trade minister said two reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster would not be back online before the last one currently operating is shut down.
- TEXAS: 'Top Secret' Documents Show Risks of Radioactive Waste Dump (Texas Observer) [emphasis added]:
Burnam said the documents, obtained after a two-and-a-half-year battle with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, show "serious public health and safety risks" from the dump. Waste Control is awaiting final sign-off from TCEQ to open the Andrews County facility. That could come as soon as Friday, Burnam said. The company has made no secrets about its plans to become a national site for the burial of radioactive waste but has been beset by critics who say the dump is dangerously close to water tables and possibly the Ogallala Aquifer.
- U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again (NYT Green):
After dropping for two years during the recession, emissions of the gases blamed for global warming rose in 2010 as the economy heated up, the Environmental Protection Agency reports.
- As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge (AP):
To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.
- VIDEO: Debate Long Over for Militaries, Intel. The Question is: Who Controls a Climate Altered World? (Climate Crock of the Week)
- Special panel links C8 to kidney, testicular cancer (West Virginia Gazette):
A team of experts revealed Monday that it has found a "probable link" between C8 and human cancers, rebuffing DuPont Co.'s longstanding contention that exposure to the chemical is harmless.
- The Titanic At 100 Years: We're Still Ignoring Warnings, This Time It's Climate Change, Says Director James Cameron (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
Part of the Titanic parable is of arrogance, of hubris, of the sense that we're too big to fail. Well, where have we heard that one before?
There was this big machine, this human system, that was pushing forward with so much momentum that it couldn't turn, it couldn't stop in time to avert a disaster. And that's what we have right now.
You've got the starving millions who are going to be the ones most affected by the next iceberg that we hit, which is going to be climate change. We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can't turn.
We can't turn because of the momentum of the system, the political momentum, the business momentum. There too many people making money out of the system, the way the system works right now and those people frankly have their hands on the levers of power and aren't ready to let 'em go.
Until they do we will not be able to turn to miss that iceberg and we're going to hit it, and when we hit it, the rich are still going to be able to get their access to food, to arable land, to water and so on. It's going to be poor, it's going to be the steerage that are going to be impacted. It's the same with Titanic.
I think that's why this story will always fascinate people. Because it's a perfect little encapsulation of the world, and all social spectra, but until our lives are really put at risk, the moment of truth, we don't know what we would do. And that's my final word.
- Solar Energy: Innovative 3-D Designs More Than Double the Solar Power Generated Per Area (Science Daily):
[A] team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach: building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures they've tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area.
The biggest boosts in power were seen in the situations where improvements are most needed: in locations far from the equator, in winter months and on cloudier days. The new findings, based on both computer modeling and outdoor testing of real modules, have been published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
- The $22 Trillion Carbon Bubble (Think Progress Green) [links, emphasis in original]:
The global economy is riding on a financial bubble that dwarfs the subprime crisis - a $22 trillion carbon bubble. On our present pathway, humanity is expected to burn through proven fossil fuel reserves by 2050, making global warming greater than 5°C (9°F) likely and civilizationally catastrophic effects irreversible. To have an 80 percent chance of keeping warming below 2°C, 80 percent of proven reserves [pdf] need to stay unburned. The present estimated value of these civilization-threatening reserves is approximately $22 trillion. [click through for graphic].
- Damage to oceans could cost $2tr by 2100 (Business Green)
Damage to natural services provided by oceans could cost the world $2tr a year by the end of the century if steps to curtail climate change are not taken, a study by the respected Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said today.
- VIDEO: James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change (TED Talks):
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- VIDEO: Animation Charts Modern Global Warming (NYT Green)
- Must-Read: Economist William Nordhaus Slams Global Warming Deniers, Explains Cost of Delay is $4 Trillion (Climate Progress):
Nordhaus's blunt piece - "Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong" - is worth reading because he is no climate hawk.
"The skeptics' summary is based on poor analysis and on an incorrect reading of the results."
- Part 1: The brutal logic of climate change (David Roberts, Grist) [emphasis added]:
It's simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. "Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake" footing. That simply won't be possible unless a critical mass of people are on board. It's not the kind of thing you can sneak in incrementally.
It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don't want to hear it.
- Part 2: The brutal logic of climate change mitigation (David Roberts, Grist)
- How to Buy Time in the Fight against Climate Change: Mobilize to Stop Soot and Methane: A short list of relatively simple actions taken to reduce greenhouse gases other than CO2 could help put the brakes on global warming--if implemented globally (Scientific American)
- Climate Scientists Rebuke Rupert Murdoch: WSJ Denier Op-Ed Like 'Dentists Practicing Cardiology' (Think Progress Green)
- Saudi Oil Minister Calls Global Warming "Humanity's Most Pressing Concern" (Climate Progress):
"We know that pumping oil out of the ground does not create many jobs. It does not foster an entrepreneurial spirit, nor does it sharpen critical faculties."
- VIDEO: Behold: The World's First 24/7 Solar Plant is Up and Running (Treehugger)
- World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns: If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change (Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
"The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. "I am very worried - if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever."
- Concise Overview: The IPCC report on extreme climate and weather events (Real Climate)
- READ the IPCC Report: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
- The Real Global Warming Signal (Tamino)
- No, global warming hasn't stopped (New Scientist)
- Top UN Climate Official Blasts U.S. Climate Policy: Americans Must Realize "This Is Their Future They're Compromising" (Think Progress Green)
- VIDEO: Climate Scientists Michael Mann on "A Look Into Our Climate: Past To Present To Future" (TEDx, YouTube)
- Earth's Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds (NYT Green)
- Heads in the Sand: Warning: "Climate change is occurring … and poses significant risks to humans and the environment," reports the National Academy of Sciences. As climate-change science moves in one direction, Republicans in Congress are moving in another. Why?
(National Journal) [emphasis added]:Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, says there's no question that the influence of his group and others like it has been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science. "If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there's been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political," he said.
Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it."