IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Not-so-bad news in Haiti; Nuclear waste blocked in Germany; Obama vs. the Volcano in Indonesia; Climate scientists fight back (finally!); PLUS: Was money the matter in the BP Oil Spill? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Another salmonella egg recall from another DeCoster-related company; Proposition 26 will not stop AB 32; BPA is bad for your semen; KS environment official fired for slowing coal plant permit; Development changes bird flight patterns; Getting even more agressive about the super-energy efficienct Passivhaus; First gen. biofuels worse for climate than fossil fuel; Oil demand to rise for 25 years despite green push; Hillary Clinton's Canadian pipeline problem; CO2 caused catastrophic global warming 40 million years ago ...PLUS: To block EPA, Koch Industries launches lobbying campaign targeting children ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- HAITI: Cholera death toll rises in hurricane-hit Haiti (BBC)
- HAITI: Fatal floods as Hurricane Tomas sweeps over Haiti (BBC)
- Govt suspects cholera has entered Haitian capital (AP)
- INDONESIA: Volcano clouds Obama's trip to Indonesia (UPI)
- GERMANY: Protesters Halt Nuclear Waste Shipment
- Anti-nuclear protests in Germany: Police clashed with anti-nuclear protesters trying to halt a train carrying nuclear waste from France to Germany as protests against the shipment turned increasingly violent (Guardian UK)
- Nuclear Waste Transport Arrives in Gorleben: A transport of 11 containers carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste arrived ... after a 92-hour journey --- the longest ever for such a shipment. The protests against the transport are the latest event in a renaissance of the country's anti-nuclear protest movement. (Der Spiegel)
- Nuke plants in Vt., NY shut down for unexpected repairs:
Unplanned shutdowns an hour apart at nuclear plants in Vermont and New York - one due to a small leak of radioactive water inside the plant, the other due to a transformer explosion - show the challenge of managing aging nuclear plants, an expert said.
- Scientists Strike Back --- Against Climate Change Denial Industry & Their Friends in the GOP:
- Scientists Join Forces in a Hostile Climate (NYT Dot Earth)
- Darrell Issa Plans Hundreds of Hearings (Politico)
- The GOP's Coming Climate Witch Hunt: Scientists are bracing for a new wave of attacks and investigations by the incoming House majority. (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones) [emphasis added]:
Last Tuesday, as Americans across the country headed to the polls, a group of climate scientists gathered in Denver to discuss strategies for fighting back against right-wing attacks on global warming science. Their timing couldn't have been better. With the ascent of the Republicans, climate science-and scientists-will be a major target for the new House majority.
- Climate scientists plan campaign against global warming skeptics: The American Geophysical Union plans to announce that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. Other scientists plan a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. (LA Times)
- Climate scientists realize they must hang together….Here's your chance to offer them messaging advice (Climate Progress)
- It takes two to depoliticize: On the quest to keep politics out of climate science (David Roberts, Grist) [emphasis added]:
The fact is that the Republican Party has become, for all intents and purposes, the political arm of the fossil-fuel status quo. The entrenched energy powers-that-be have marshaled the right's current vulgar anti-intellectualism in support of their continued privilege; to put it more bluntly, they have been and still are paying people on the right to lie about science and dupe the conservative base.
I'm not talking about climate sensitivities or hurricane frequency or sea-level projections or other areas of active scientific disputation. I'm talking about whether human beings are driving changes in the climate. That question is simply not in serious dispute in the relevant scientific disciplines. It has been confirmed by multiple lines of evidence, empirical and model-based, over many years. Curry and virtually every other credible climate scientist would no doubt agree. Yet Republicans have now made rejection of that root scientific consensus a litmus test, in keeping with their decades-long assault on America's institutions. Virtually every Republican candidate for Congress has denied the most rudimentary facts about climate change.
- The Dialectic Is Interested In Climate Scientists (Matt Yglesias, Think Progress):
A different way of putting it would be à la Trotsky's quip that you may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in you. It's possible to have meaningful dialogue about an issue on a technical "non-political" level if and only if the political system isn't interested in the question.
- Obama lukewarm on using EPA authority to rein in carbon emissions (AFP)
- Sensenbrenner: Keep House Climate Panel to Check EPA: The top Republican on the House climate change panel that Democrats created in 2007 is urging GOP leaders to recast it as a check against EPA rules he calls economically harmful. (The Hill)
- EPA Chief Strikes Back at House GOP Critics: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, that his attacks on the costs of Clean Air Act rules are way off base. (The Hill)
- Dead & Dying Corals Near BP's Dead Well:
- Scientists find dead and dying coral covered with a brown substance 7 miles from BP oil spill site (NOLA.com):
"Ninety percent of 40 large corals were heavily affected and showed dead and dying parts and discoloration," according to a news release reporting the findings by Fisher and other scientists issued jointly by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Managment, Regulation and Enforcement, which co-sponsored the research. "Another site 400 meters away had a colony of stony coral similarly affected and partially covered with a similar brown substance."
- Dead Coral Found Near Gulf Oil Well (NYT Green)
- Coral Die-Off Took Scientist by Surprise (NYT Green)
- National Oil Spill Commission Releases Preliminary Findings in Two-Day Hearings:
- Factbox: Oil spill commission findings (Reuters)
- "Nobody Thought They Were Taking a Chance" (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
Bartlit was clear that he didn't believe, from the evidence that they have gathered, that there was a conscious decision on the rig to cut costs and finish the job early. "We don't see a person or three people sitting there at a table considering safety and costs and giving up safety for cost," said Bartlit. Rather, he said, it appeared that a number of misjudgments led up to that fateful night.
- WATCH: National Oil Spill Commission Investigators Present Information on cause of Oil Rig Explosion (C-SPAN)
- Spill panel: No evidence of saving $ over safety (AP) [emphasis added]:
The BP oil rig explosion and spill wasn't about anyone purposely trading money for safety, investigators on a special presidential commission said Monday. Instead it was more about seemingly acceptable risks adding up to disaster.
Investigators at the commission's hearing outlined more than a dozen decisions that at the time seemed questionable but also explainable. It was how those cascaded and crashed together that fueled catastrophe.
Yet there was no evidence of a conscious decision on the BP rig to do things on the cheap at the expense of safety, investigators stressed several times.
- Investigator Finds No Evidence That BP Took Shortcuts to Save Money (NY Times)
- GOP Still Thwarting Spill Panel (Mother Jones)
- Criticism runs deep for spill commission findings (AP) [emphasis added]:
Rep. Edward J. Markey, a member of a congressional panel investigating the spill, questioned the findings.
"When the culture of a company favors risk-taking and cutting corners above other concerns, systemic failures like this oil spill disaster result without direct decisions being made or tradeoffs being considered," Markey, D-Mass., said. "What is fully evident, from BP's pipeline spill in Alaska and the Texas city refinery disaster, to the Deepwater Horizon well failure, is that BP has a long and sordid history of cutting costs and pushing the limits in search of higher profits."
- 'Shadow' of oil spill seen in Gulf of Mexico plankton (Mobile Press-Register):
a faint "shadow" of the oil can be seen in the Gulf's smallest creatures - plankton and copepods. Those tiny animals ate the microbes that ate the oil.
What's present in the creatures is not oil. Instead, it is a unique form of carbon typically associated with oil and not otherwise seen in the Gulf creatures, researchers found.
- On 2nd Day of Hearings, Big Oil Faces Panel (The Hill)
- Spill panel chief counsel bemoans lack of subpoena power (The Hill)
- Ex-CEO Hayward says BP was unprepared for oil spill (AP)
- WATCH: Tony Hayward Thinks He 'May Have Done Better' With An Acting Degree : In an interview with the BBC to be televised this evening, the erstwhile chief complained about an "enormous feeding frenzy" from the media. (BBC, via Think Progress)
- Louisiana Rethinks Its Sand Berms (NYT Green):
Bobby Jindal, the state's governor, announced that $100 million of the remaining berm money would be redirected toward coastal restoration, a move endorsed by BP.
Specifically, the money would be used to convert the more than 10 miles of berms already built from temporary oil-blocking structures into permanent barrier islands. The remaining $40 million would be used to complete several berm sections still under construction and other expenses related to the project.
Louisiana's barrier islands have in the past helped damp the impact of storms on the coast but have been starved of sediment from the leveeing of the Mississippi River and heavily eroded by storms like Hurricane Katrina. Restoring the islands is considered a crucial element of protecting coastal communities from future storms and the shoreline from further erosion.
- Where's the Gulf oil? In the Food Web, Scientist Says: "Everybody is making a huge deal of where did the oil go," said chief study author William "Monty" Graham, a plankton expert at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. "It just became food." (AP)
- The Earth Doesn't DO Politics, Laws of Physics Can't Be Repealed...
- January-to-October tied for hottest in satellite record: New U.S. daily high temperature records in October outpace record lows by nearly 5-to-1 (Climate Progress)
- Healing from Global Warming May Take 100,000 Years (Treehugger):
The geological evidence from the 55 million year event and from earlier warming episodes suggests that such an addition [a massive increase in greenhouse gases caused by the activities of mankind] is likely to raise average global temperatures by at least 5 to 6C, and possibly more, and that recovery of the Earth's climate in the absence of mitigation measures could take 100,000 years or more. Numerical models of the climate system support such an interpretation. In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Another salmonella egg recall from a DeCoster-related company: (Tom Philpott, Grist):
Remember Jack DeCoster, the tycoon behind the half-billion-egg recall in August?
As I showed in a recent post, DeCoster stands at the nexus of a tangle of companies that, combined, produce more eggs than any single entity. Over the weekend, one of those companies, Ohio Fresh Egg, announced another "voluntary recall." According to an FDA notice issued late Friday, the company recently "had a routine environmental study sample which tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis."
- Proposition 26 will not stop AB 32: "Prop 26 does not impair the scoping plan adopted in 2008 or any regulations developed under that plan. AB 32 is on track." (NRDC Switchboard)
- Kansas Environment Secretary Fired for Not Fast-Tracking Coal Plant Permit (Treehugger):
Apparently in Kansas, regulating coal-fired power plants is not what the state's top environment official is supposed to do. Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby was replaced earlier this week, after first refusing the governor's 'offer' to step down and take the position of Cabinet transition director-and all signs point to Bremby's firm stance against coal-fired power plants as the reason for the decision.
- Can it, baby: BPA is bad for your semen, and other news about our favorite endocrine disruptor (Grist):
In news that hits a guy where it hurts, scientists from Kaiser Permanente showed that men with higher levels of BPA exposure were two to four times more likely to have fewer sperm overall, fewer live sperm, and poor semen quality. Ouch. Although the BPA levels in Chinese workers involved in the study were still within EPA safety guidelines, the semen problems were severe enough, according to a UCSF reproductive expert not involved with the study, to cause infertility.
- Free as a Bird? Human Development Affects Bird Flight Patterns and Populations (Science Daily):
Kesler has found that non-migrating resident birds tend to travel over forest "corridors," which are areas protected by trees and used by wildlife to travel. Birds choose to travel over forests because they can make an easier escape from predators as well as find food. Man-made features such as roads, as well as gaps forests from agriculture or rivers, can restrict birds to certain areas. When forests are removed, bird populations become isolated and disconnected, which can lead to inbreeding and weaker, more disease-prone birds.
- Super-Duper Energy Efficient Homes: Getting More Agressive About Passivhaus: These houses actually are built to do a lot of work; keeping the inside warm or cool, and keeping the elements at bay. Some of them only require the equivalent of a hair dryer for heating, even in cold Northwest climates. (Sustainable Industries)
- Oil demand to rise for 25 years despite green push: Oil demand and price are set to grow steadily over the next 25 years despite environmental policies, essentially dooming climate-change goals, the International Energy Agency forecast on Tuesday. (AFP)
- First generation biofuels worse for climate than fossil fuel - study (Reuters):
European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday.
- Hillary Clinton's Pipeline Problem (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
[Secretary] Clinton said recently that the pipeline from Canada to Texas is likely to be approved, despite the fact that a full analysis of its impacts has not been completed.
The groups said that Clinton's remarks indicate she is "biased" in favor of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL expansion, as the full environmental impact statement isn't expected to be finalized until next year. A number of senators have also criticized Clinton's statements, asking her not to "pre-judge" a massive pipeline project that would bring "dirty oil" to the US from Canada's tar sands.
- The Heat Was On: Atmospheric CO2 Triggered a Global Warming Event 40 Million Years Ago (Scientific American):
In a new study scientists used "paleothermometers" to gauge CO2 and temperatures that prevailed during a long-lived primordial global warming event, and found CO2 to be the culprit.
The study does leave one big question outstanding: Where did all the MECO CO2 come from? This remains an area of speculation, Houben says, although scientists are fairly sure the source was not organic. However the CO2 got there, the takeaway from this study is simple: "In the past," Zachos says, "whenever atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, the climate warms."
- Indoctrination Nation?:To Block EPA Regulations, Koch Industries Expands Lobbying Campaign To Children (Wonk Room):
Koch Industries, the privately owned industrial conglomerate, is using any available method to fight the enforcement of laws to limit its toxic pollution. This summer's "Regulation Reality Tour," produced by Koch's grassroots marketing arm Americans for Prosperity (AFP), featured a "moon bounce in the shape of a SWAT car for children," ostensibly symbolizing the boogeyman of Environmental Protection Agency "Carbon Cops." "Let's make sure we keep doing our part to ensure that our generation passes on to our children and grandchildren the same freedoms we enjoyed," AFP cries, in protest of sewage overflow rules.
- 'Shadow' of oil spill seen in Gulf of Mexico plankton (Mobile Press-Register):