With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/19/2010, 1:04pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The "Global Warming Myth" myth that keeps on giving; 2010 still on track to be hottest year ever; CA's Prop 23 gets Avatar'd ... PLUS: The first-ever White House Science Fair ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): UN official: 'We are destroying life on Earth'; Electric cars could play key role in new supergrid; Chile to measure 'water footprint' of companies; 'Clean cookstoves' could save lives and help clear the air; Canada bans BPA; KY gov sues EPA over coal mining permits; China's monopoly over rare earth elements is a threat to U.S. security, leads Japan to recycle minerals from used electronics; GOP attacks stimulus wind power funding; Dead animals central to DOJ's BP Gulf Oil Disaster investigation ...PLUS: The miseducation of Capitol Hill: Two major Beltway blind spots ...

STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

  • The "Global Warming Myth" Myth That Keeps On Giving:
  • Most Americans Understand Global Warming Is NOT A Myth, But Majority Unclear On the Science:
    • Global warming confuses Americans (CBC News):
      Though the majority of Americans believe that global warming is actually occurring, many do not understand the reasons behind it, suggests new research released Thursday. According to a study by Yale University researchers, 63 per cent of U.S. citizens believe that global warming exists. However, only 57 per cent know what the greenhouse effect is and only 45 per cent recognize the impact of carbon dioxide in trapping the earth's heat.
    • Are Americans Climate Dummies? (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
      First, the good news: the majority of Americans understand that global warming is happening. That means that, despite all the attacks on climate science in the past year, the number of US citizens who recognize this problem has pretty much held firm. About half of those surveyed by researchers at Yale University recognized that human activity is causing the planet to heat up.

      But that's not because Americans are particularly well-informed about climate science—or science in general, it seems.

    • How carbon dioxide controls earth’s temperature: NASA's Lacis: "There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level." (Climate Progress)
  • 2010: Still On Track To Be Hottest Ever
  • Hoover Dam's Lake Mead At Historic Lows
  • CA's Prop 23 Gets Avatar'd:
    • James Cameron, Gordon Moore take on Prop 23 (Grist):
      The tsunami of cash flooding into the No campaign indicates the breadth of support from California's establishment for the state's global warming law, known as AB 32, which requires greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.

      Avatar director James Cameron attracted the most attention with his $1 million donation on Friday. But Gordon Moore, the legendary co-founder of chip giant Intel, also dropped $1 million into the No coffers that day...
      ...
      Environmentalists are also starting to focus on Proposition 26, a little-noticed California ballot measure that would reclassify environmental impact fees as taxes and require a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to impose them rather than a simple majority. Green groups and AB 32 supporters fear Prop 26 could cripple efforts to levy fees to implement the global warming law.

    • Filmmaker Joins Governor in Climate Fight (Sacramento Bee)
    • CA's Prop 26: Global warming issue spans two ballot items: As the campaign slows down for Prop. 23, which would suspend the environmental law, money pours in to promote Prop. 26, which could hobble it. (LA Times)
  • The First Ever White House Science Fair: Inspiring Stories, Impressive Inventions:
    • WATCH: Robots, Solar Cars and Rockets at the White House Science Fair (The White House):
      The White House Science Fair is part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate program move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. The President has made STEM education a priority for his Administration – recognizing that that a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math is key for laying the foundation for our future prosperity.

    • TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by the President at White House Science Fair (The White House) [emphasis added]:
      The importance of tapping this potential is why we’re here. It’s why I wanted to host this fair, which culminates this weekend in a science and engineering festival on the National Mall and across the country where more than a million people are expected to participate.

      So we welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories. I’ve had the Lakers here. I’ve had the Saints here, the Crimson Tide. I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fair and robotic contests, and math competitions. Because often we don’t give these victories the attention that they deserve.
      ...
      But in many ways, our future depends on what happens in those contests --- what happens when a young person is engaged in conducting an experiment, or writing a piece of software, or solving a hard math problem, or designing a new gadget.
      ...
      It is unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you, for us to be ranked on average as 21st or 25th --- not with so much at stake. We don't play for second place here in America. We certainly don't play for 25th.

      So I’ve set this goal: We will move from the middle to the top in math and science education over the next decade. We are on our way to meeting this goal.

    • America's Paltry Energy R&D Spending (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
      Included in the Center for American Progress' new report on the massive amount of money oil companies are spending on research at universities in the US are some shocking figures about how little federal money is going to energy research and development.

      US spending on energy research peaked in 1979, at $9 billion. Since then, it's declined significantly, to an average of just $3.6 billion per year from 1993 to 2006. This is more concerning when you see that spending compared to federal R&D outlays for defense, general science, or health.

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • U.N. environment chief: 'We are destroying life on Earth': World is facing worst extinction rate since dinosaurs vanished, body says (MSNBC.com):
    The world cannot afford to allow nature's riches to disappear, the United Nations said Monday at the start of a major meeting to combat losses in animal and plant species that underpin livelihoods and economies.

    The United Nations says the world is facing the worst extinction rate since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, a crisis that needs to be addressed by governments, businesses and communities.

    The two-week meeting aims to prompt nations and businesses to take sweeping steps to protect and restore ecosystems such as forests, rivers, coral reefs and the oceans that are vital for an ever-growing human population.

  • Rising Hopes that Electric Cars Can Play a Key Role on the Grid: Will electric cars one day become part of a network of rechargeable batteries that can help smooth out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power? Many experts believe so, pointing to programs in Europe and the U.S. that demonstrate the promise of vehicle-to-grid technology. (Yale 360)
  • Chile Launches Initiative to Measure 'Water Footprint' of Companies: Chilean officials are launching an initiative that will require companies to measure the effects of water consumption on local watersheds and their own business sustainability. (IPS News)
  • Could clean cookstoves save lives and help clear the air? (PBS Need To Know):
    Imagine if the global distribution of one household necessity could save lives, enable livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change. With Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, international leaders, organizations, governments and corporations are joining forces to offer a solution to the problem of smoke emissions from cooking devices in developing countries. This smoke also releases carbon dioxide, methane and black carbon into the atmosphere. Each of these components has been identified as a contributing factor to climate change.
  • Canada Declares BPA, a Chemical in Plastics, to Be Toxic (NY Times):
    The government of Canada formally declared bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance on Wednesday.

    The compound, commonly known as BPA, has been shown to disrupt the hormone systems of animals and is under review in the United States and Europe.

    Canada’s move, which was strenuously fought by the chemical industry, followed an announcement by the government two years ago that it would eliminate the compound’s use in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children.

  • Coal industry, Beshear administration sue EPA over coal mining permits: Claim federal agency illegally blocking state-issued mine permits (Kentucky.com)
  • OP-ED: Paul Krugman: Rare and Foolish: China's "near-stranglehold" over the world's supply of crucial rare earth elements threatens national security (NY Times):
    Last month a Chinese trawler operating in Japanese-controlled waters collided with two vessels of Japan’s Coast Guard. Japan detained the trawler’s captain; China responded by cutting off Japan’s access to crucial raw materials.

    And there was nowhere else to turn: China accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, minerals that play an essential role in many high-technology products, including military equipment. Sure enough, Japan soon let the captain go.

    I don’t know about you, but I find this story deeply disturbing, both for what it says about China and what it says about us.

  • Japan Recycles Minerals From Used Electronics (NY Times):
    This town’s hopes for a mining comeback lie not underground, but
    in what Japan refers to as urban mining — recycling the valuable metals and minerals from the country’s huge stockpiles of used electronics like cellphones and computers.

    “We’ve literally discovered gold in cellphones,” said Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, a former land minister and now opposition party member, who visited here recently to survey Kosaka’s recycling plant.

  • GOP Attacks on Stimulus Wind Power Money: Hot Air (TIME):
    The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has borrowed a populist Democratic theme for its latest round of attack ads, featuring red flags, menacing-sounding songs, and Asian calligraphy fonts to accuse vulnerable House incumbents are outsourcing jobs to you-know-where.
    ...
    The renewable energy program that the NRCC is trashing was part of President Obama's stimulus bill — or, as the ads call it, "the $800 billion failed stimulus." It's helped prevent the collapse of the American wind industry, and it's created thousands of American jobs; like the stimulus in general, it's helped advance Obama's long-term goal of weaning the economy off carbon as well as his short-term goal of saving the economy from a second Great Depression.
    ...
    "These ads are completely at odds with reality," says Liz Salerno, director of industry data and analysis for the American Wind Energy Association. "This myth about jobs has just been snowballing. It couldn't be more opposite to the facts."
    ...
    In a Facebook posting in February that helped inspire the Republican wind-bashing, Sarah Palin claimed that "80% of the $2 billion they spent on alternative energy went to purchase wind turbines built in China." In fact, only 3 of America's 33,000 turbines were built in China.
  • BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf: Dead animals are Exhibit A in Gulf investigation (AP):
    Scientists examining dead animals that were discovered along the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP oil spill are observing strict laboratory protocols, knowing everything they touch could become evidence in what may prove to be the biggest environmental case in U.S. history.

    Like detectives on a murder case, government scientists — and outside experts under contract to the government — are using CSI-style techniques to determine whether the oil is to blame for the wildlife deaths.

  • The mis-education of Capitol Hill: Two Beltway blind spots (David Roberts, Grist):
    I finally got around to reading Peter Baker's big New York Times Magazine piece, "Education of a President." It's about where the Obama administration stands, and how it sees itself, two years in. Baker covers the cross-currents fairly well, but he shares a couple of the Beltway's common blind spots, which happen to be obsessions of mine.