IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Steppin' awaaay from the politics and midterm madness (almost...and just for today): Historic UN agreement on biodiversity; Establishing a price for "natural capital"; Halliburton's bad cement job; Last call for Discovery ... PLUS: Van Jones - The most positive man in America on the fight for clean energy ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Rising seas and the groundwater equation; Militants blow up oil pipeline in southern Yemen; Why did FDA withhold info that GE Salmon pose a critical threat to marine environments?; Tea Party scoffs at role of green jobs in economic recovery; Alarm over "pig MRSA" - but not in the US; Bush-era OMB chief Nussle named president of ethanol trade group; Disney receives award for saving water; Judge suspends Navajo mining permit; Experts Foresee Bumpy Transition from Fossil Fuels, Even with Promising Energy Alternatives...PLUS: The RFK Jr. Interview: 'A coup d'etat against the carbon cronies' ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- 2012 Preview:
- Energy Interests Drop $247 Million on Ads in 2010 (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones)
- Historic International Agreement Reached at U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, "Natural Capital", and "Geo-engineering":
- Grim news on animal extinction threat greeting Japan biodiversity summit: Those gathering in Nagoya for a U.N. meeting on biological diversity - to set conservation goals for 2020 - face news that scientists find one-fifth of vertebrate species in danger of extinction. (LA Times)
- Nations agree historic deal to save nature"Nearly 200 nations agreed on Saturday to a sweeping plan to stem the loss of species by setting new 2020 targets to ensure greater protection of nature and enshrine the benefits it gives mankind. (Reuters):
Delegates agreed to goals to protect oceans, forests and rivers as the world faces the worst extinction rate since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.
They also agreed to take steps to put a price on the value of benefits such as clean water from watersheds and coastal protection by mangroves by including such "natural capital" into national accounts.
Services provided by nature to economies were worth trillions of dollars a year, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said in a statement, adding businesses from banks to miners were key in halting rapid loss of ecosystems.
- UN nature meeting agrees on land, ocean protection (AP):
After marathon negotiations that stretched hours past the designated time, delegates also managed to overcome divisions between rich and poor countries to agree to share access to and the benefits of genetic resources such as plants whose extracts have been developed into medicines - a key sticking point that had threatened to doom the entire two-week meeting in Nagoya, southwest of Tokyo.
Scientists estimate that the Earth is losing species 100 to 1,000 times the historical average, pushing the planet toward the greatest extinction age since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.
- World Bank calls for ecosystems to be valued: "The natural wealth of nations should be a capital asset valued in combination with its financial capital, manufactured capital and human capital," Zoellick said. (Terra Daily)
- Study says conservation slowing animal extinctions (AP)
- Sayonara, Nagoya: UN biodiversity summit closes (Greenpeace)
- UN biodiversity targets now need to be implemented say campaigners (Environmental News Network)
- OP-ED: Biodiversity, Indonesia and poverty (Jakarta Post) [emphasis added]:
[W]e need development in order to alleviate poverty. As a consequence, tropical ecosystems have been converted. This is actually the challenge of millennium development: Reducing poverty on the one hand goals: while saving the environment on the other.
This involves two interesting factors. First, we believe that the exploitation of biological resources will have significant effects on efforts to fight poverty. But in fact, the massive exploitation of natural diversity has not significantly minimized Indonesia's poverty rate.
- OP-ED: COP10 steps forward (Japan Times)
- Geoengineering sparks international ban, first-ever congressional report (Washington Post)
- House committee weighs in on 'climate engineering' (Nature)
- Why the UN Moratorium on Geoengineering Is a Good Thing, Maybe (Treehugger)
- Another View: Geoengineering: The Inescapable Truth of Getting to 350 (Solutions Journal)
- Update on the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf:
- Oil Spill Commission finds Halliburton's cement was unstable, failed several tests before Deepwater Horizon disaster (NOLA.com):
National Oil Spill Commission investigators have found that the Halliburton cement used to seal the bottom of BP's wild Gulf well in April was unstable and was used despite multiple failed tests in the weeks leading up to the massive well blowout.
What's more, the commission investigators found Halliburton knew about the problems and used the cement mixture anyway.
- Halliburton Knew About Bad Cement Job Before the Spill (Mother Jones)
- Memo to Spill Commission: Bad Cement Does Not Equal Blowout (Robert Cavner, Huffington Post Green)
- Inquiry Puts Halliburton in a Familiar Hot Seat (NY Times)
- BP ups Gulf spill cost to $40 billion, still reports profit (USA Today)
- Denied BP Oil Spill Claims Rising Sharply (AP)
- BP won't be first to restart Gulf operations: New CEO reiterates conviction the firm wasn't 'grossly negligent' (MarketWatch)
- Gulf Seafood Is Safe, Officials Say (NYT Green)
- Louisiana oyster industry struggles to cope with oil spill, coastal restoration efforts (NOLA.com)
- Last Call for Discovery (Plus the First Humanoid Robot In Space!):
- On launch eve, NASA marks 10 yrs at space station (AP)
- A last go for the go-to: Discovery, which led an anxious NASA back into space after Challenger and Columbia, begins its final voyage Wednesday (Houston Chronicle):
After more than a quarter century of ferrying crews, satellites, space station parts and even the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit, Discovery will begin one final voyage Wednesday afternoon.
The shuttle will also bring the $2.5 million Robonaut 2 - a humanlike robot without legs - to the station. Initially the robot will be used for basic tasks, such as cleaning, to ensure that it will operate safely in a zero-gravity environment with humans nearby.
"A lot of robots out there can do a lot of different dance moves," said Rob Ambrose, Robonaut's project leader. "And we could probably program Robonaut to dance. But we're more interested in having a robot that can get some work done."
- Robot's space debut 'giant leap for tinmankind' (AP)
- Van Jones On the Fight For Clean Energy and the Environment:
- LISTEN: Brad Friedman Interviews Van Jones on The Mike Malloy Show: The green jobs advocate on not quitting when you've reached the 98-yard line, the future of the clean energy economy & climate legislation, and getting "Beck-ed" out of the White House (38 mins.)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Rising Seas and the Groundwater Equation (NYT Green):
Worldwide overpumping of groundwater, particularly in northern India, Iran, Mexico, northeastern China and the American West, more than doubled between 1960 and 2000 and is responsible for about 25 percent of the current rise in sea level, according to estimates in a new study by a team of Dutch researchers published in Geophysical Review Letters.
- Newly Disclosed Government Documents Conclude GE Salmon Pose A Critical Threat To Marine Environments: Expert fisheries agencies prohibit growing engineered salmon in open-water net pens under the Endangered Species Act. FDA Declined to Disclose Evidence During September Hearings on Aquabounty Salmon (Center for Food Safety):
"This adds further evidence that in fact GE salmon pose a serious threat to marine environments and is another compelling reason for the FDA not to approve the fish for commercial use," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "While the FDA applauded the company's choice of land-based containment as responsible, it never revealed that it is illegal in the U.S. to grow genetically engineered salmon in open-water net pens."
The Biological Opinion and supplemental information, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, challenge claims by AquaBounty Technologies, the developer of the GE salmon, that the transgenic fish pose no threat to marine environments.
- Tea Party scoffs at role of green jobs in economic recovery:
Part of the montage was this unmistakable visual message: "Green Jobs: SCAM" - a full-screen shot that displayed the words in white against a dark green background, with the word "SCAM" appearing most prominently in the center of the screen.
With that, Angle's espousing a line lifted straight from the Tea Party playbook: that investing in green energy has created no jobs, and should be stopped.
That could possibly be construed a reasonable argument but for one thing: in Nevada, it's palpably untrue.
- Alarm over "pig MRSA" - but not in the US (Wired):
[S]ome new news out - along with a fair amount of public reaction - regarding "pig MRSA" or, to use the technical term, MRSA ST398, the "third epidemic" strain that emerged in pigs in the Netherlands in 2004 and has since appeared, in animals, retail meat, and humans, across the European Union, in Canada, and in the United States.
It is important to note that there is no clear evidence that MRSA ST398 in animals is causing human cases in Denmark (though such cases have been recorded in numerous other countries).
This burst of news and reaction from Denmark makes it clear - as though it weren't already - that there are places in the world which take the emergence of MRSA in farm animals, as a result of farm antibiotic use, to be a very serious issue. Surely it's time for the US to take this seriously as well.
- Nussle Hustle: Bush-era OMB chief Nussle named president of ethanol trade group (The Hill):
"While representing the 1st district of Iowa for 16 years, I witnessed the positive impact that ethanol production had on rural America," Nussle said. "Over the past few years as a Director at Growth Energy, I've seen the benefits of ethanol to the entire country. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work full-time on behalf of America's ethanol supporters, so that our nation can benefit even more from this clean, green, renewable fuel."
- Disney receives award for saving water (Orange Co. Register):
The resort created a program to cut down on the amount of water dumped into storm drains and the ocean.
Disney is recognized mostly for using a type of porous asphalt that allows rainwater to seep into the water table, instead of going into the ocean.
The concrete surfaces have spaces and holes, almost like a sponge, which allow water to seep into the ground, said Jill Bicknell, awards committee chair. That prevents the water from running off, picking up pollutants and carrying them into the ocean.
- Militants blow up oil pipeline in southern Yemen; unclear whether al-Qaida offshoot to blame (Canadian Business Online):
It was not clear whether al-Qaida's local offshoot was behind the attack, a Yemeni official said. Other anti-government militants are also active in southern Yemen.
- Judge Suspends Navajo Mining Permit (NYT Green):
In a significant legal victory for Navajo campaigners, a federal judge has voided a permit for the expansion of one of two operating mines on the Navajo reservation, calling for a more thorough review of the project's impact on the environment and on cultural sites.
- Experts Foresee Bumpy Transition from Fossil Fuels, Even with Promising Energy Alternatives (American Association for the Advancement of Science) [emphasis added]:
As the discussion-the first in a series on "Science and Society: Global Challenges"-made clear, there are economic, geopolitical and environmental factors that greatly complicate the world's energy outlook.
Parker of ExxonMobil said there is no "silver bullet" in our energy future. He said the better phrase is "silver buckshot," a suite of approaches for improved production and consumption of energy. There has been a renewed interest in natural gas as a fuel for power plants, Parker said, since they emit only about half as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as coal-fired plants.
- 'A coup d'etat against the carbon cronies': chatting with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (David Roberts, Grist):
I caught up with him at the Fort Mason Center, where we chatted about ... well, mostly about how things are going to hell. But also other stuff!
Q. Given there's no prospect of a comprehensive climate/energy bill for two, four, who knows how many years, what should climate and energy folks be doing? Where should their energies and attentions be focused?
A. There are a lot of things that the federal government can do without going through Congress.