IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hot (yes, hot) winter weather across the Northern Hemisphere; EPA moves forward on regulating greenhouse gases; Breaking China's monopoly on rare earth's? ... PLUS: Surprise, surprise: the more you watch Fox "News", the less you know .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The reactor on your roof: Caltech breakthrough uses solar power to generate liquid fuel; Fmr. Shell president predicts $5-a-gallon gas by 2012; EPA develops neurotoxicants list; Obama admin takes aim at China’s renewable-energy subsidies;New House Science chair praises ‘tremendous’ BP spill, plans to subpoena climate scientists; WikiLeaks: Africa Offers Easy Uranium; 10 Green New Year's Resolutions ... PLUS: The "most heinous climate villains" of 2010 ....
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Wacky Winter Weather Across the Northern Hemisphere: Freezing in EU, Downright Balmy in the Arctic:
- The Northeast Blizzard: One More Sign of Global Warming (TIME) [emphasis added]:
The loss of Arctic sea ice helps accelerate the warming of the atmosphere in the far north, thanks to what's known as the albedo effect. White ice reflects sunlight into space, cooling the air, but when ice melts and is replaced with dark ocean water, the effect is reversed and more of the sun's heat is absorbed. As the Arctic air warms, it raises the altitude of discrete areas of high pressure, which can then alter wind patterns. This, in turn, can weaken the jet stream, allowing more cold air to seep out of the Arctic and into Europe and the eastern U.S.
The theory seems counterintuitive, but as Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who writes the great Wunder Blog at Weather Underground, put it in a recent post, it makes sense: "This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar - the refrigerator warms up, but all the cold air spills out into the house." The planet overall is still warming - and the Arctic fastest of all - but the cold air from the far north can result in biting winter weather and major storms, for a while at least.
- Eastern Arctic warming trend alarms scientists: “We have dramatic changes taking place” (Nunatsiaq Online)
- Expect more extreme winters thanks to global warming, say scientists (Independent UK):
Scientists have established a link between the cold, snowy winters in Britain and melting sea ice in the Arctic and have warned that long periods of freezing weather are likely to become more frequent in years to come.
- Why so cold in eastern U.S.? Winter's 'wild card' in play (USA Today)
- OP-ED: Bundle Up, It's Global Warming: A warming Arctic is changing the jet stream and weather patterns (NY Times)
- The war on Santa Claus (and Superman): The question of the season is - What will happen to Santa Claus (and Superman) when the North Pole is ice free in the summer? (Climate Progress)
- The year of living dangerously. Masters: "The stunning extremes we witnessed gives me concern that our climate is showing the early signs of instability": Munich Re: "The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change" (Climate Progress)
- As Arctic Temperatures Rise, Tundra Fires Increase: The 2007 Anaktuvuk River Fire burned more than 1,000 square kilometers of tundra on Alaska's North Slope. It was the largest tundra fire in the region in recorded history. (Science Daily)
- Record flooding hits eastern Australia (CNN)
- EPA Unilaterally Moves to Regulate Greenhouse Gases:
- EPA Moves Unilaterally to Regulate Greenhouse Gases (AP):
The Obama administration took separate actions this week to protect clean air and federal wilderness areas, reaffirming that the White House can pursue its goals without depending on help from an increasingly combative Congress.
In the coming two years, that may become a more popular approach.
- Manchin says EPA is 'anti-, anti-, anti-coal' (Energy Central)
- EPA Moves Unilaterally to Regulate Greenhouse Gases (AP):
- Breaking China's Monopoly on Rare Earths (elements, that is):
- Rare earth metals mine is key to US control over hi-tech future: Approval secured to restart operations, which could be crucial in challenging China's stranglehold on the market (Guardian UK):
The [U.S.] mine is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements outside China. Eight years ago, it was shut down in a tacit admission that the US was ceding the market to China. Now, the owners have secured final approval to restart operations, and hope to begin production soon.
So far as the Obama administration is concerned, the mine can't open soon enough. A US department of energy report warned on 15 December that, in the absence of mines such as this one, America risks losing control over the production of a host of technologies, from smart phones to smart bombs, electric car batteries to wind turbines, because of a virtual Chinese monopoly on the rare earth metals essential to their production.
China controls 97% of global rare earth metals production. Such total domination of a strategic resource became impossible to ignore in October when China cut exports of rare earth elements by more than 70% over the previous year, disrupting manufacturing in Japan, Europe and the US. Prices of even the cheapest of the 17 rare earth elements rose 40%.
- China's lock on market for rare earth elements: Why it matters: China said Wednesday it will 'continue to provide rare earths to the world,' but it also plans to cut exports. Here's a Q&A on what all the fuss is about.(Christan Science Monitor)
- China Cuts Rare Earth Export Quota: China's decision to sharply cut its rare earth export quotas for the first half of 2011 after cutting second-half export quotas this year will exacerbate concerns among global buyers of the materials. (Wall St. Journal)
- Undermining China's Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements: Full operations will start at a U.S. mine by the end of next year. (MIT Technology Review)
- DOE REPORT: Department of Energy Releases Critical Materials Strategy (U.S. Dept. of Energy):
A Critical Materials Strategy document issued by the U.S. Department of Energy last week points to the "risk of supply disruption" in the short term. Worldwide demand for rare earth elements was 125,000 tons in 2010 and is expected to rise to 225,000 tons by 2015.
- CA To Mine Rare Earth Elements Again (Clean Technica)
- Surprise, Surprise: The More You Watch Fox News, the Less You Know:
- Survey: More Fox News, more climate doubts (USA Today)
- Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed: Study (Huffington Post Green) [emphasis added]:
Fox News viewers are much more likely than others to believe false information about American politics, a new study concludes.
The study, conducted by the University of Maryland, judged how likely consumers of various news outlets and publications were to believe misinformation about a wide range of political issues.
...[T]he study found that Fox News viewers, regardless of political information, were "significantly more likely" to believe that:
--Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely)
--Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points)
--The economy is getting worse (26 points)
--Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points)
--The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)
--Their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)
In addition, the study said, increased viewership of Fox News led to increased belief in these false stories.
- Climate Change and 'Balanced' Coverage (NYT Green)
- READ IT: Study: Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information: Poll Also Finds Voters Were Misinformed on Key Issues (World Public Opinion, a project of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland) [emphasis added]:
Equally significant, the poll found strong evidence that voters were substantially misinformed on many of the key issues of the campaign. Such misinformation was correlated with how people voted and their exposure to various news sources.
There were, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source increased misinformation on some issues.
Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points). The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it --- though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.
- Fox News Editor Bill Sammon, Climate Change, and "teach the controversy" journalism (Media Matters.org)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Researchers Develop Cerium Reactor to Make Fuel from Sunlight (Guardian UK):
Scientists raise hopes for a large-scale renewable source of liquid fuel with a simple reactor that mimics plants
A simple reactor that mimics plants by turning sunlight into fuel has been demonstrated in the laboratory, boosting hopes for a large-scale renewable source of liquid fuel.
"We have a big energy problem and we have to think big," said Prof Sossina Haile, at the California Institute of Technology, who led the research.
- Fmr. Shell president 'predicting' $5-a-gallon gas in 2012 (Raw Story):
"I'm predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices," John Hofmeister said in a recent interview with Platts Energy Week television.
Hofmeister also predicted that demand would outstrip supply before the end of the decade.
- EPA develops neurotoxicants list, new testing (Politics Daily):
As the rates of learning disabilities, autism and related conditions rise, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a roster of the pollutants likely to contribute to these or other disorders, American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop has learned.
In an ongoing, three-year effort, an EPA team has determined which developmental neurotoxicants - chemicals that damage the fetal and infant brain - may pose the biggest risk to the American public.
- About to Ralph: New House Science chair praises ‘tremendous’ BP spill, plans to subpoena climate scientists (Grist)
- 10 Green New Year's Resolutions (Mother Jones)
- Obama admin takes aim at China’s renewable-energy subsidies: Last week, in a move that pits American labor against China's green-technology industry, the Obama administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over China's wind-power subsidies. (Grist):
Rep. Ralph Hall plans to use the House Science and Technology Committee to investigate the "false statements" of climate scientists, and "subpoena" those who don't appear willingly. Hall also explains why the BP disaster "didn't dampen his enthusiasm for offshore drilling."
- WikiLeaks: Africa Offers Easy Uranium (Truthout):
Wikileaks cables have revealed a disturbing development in the African uranium mining industry: abysmal safety and security standards in the mines, nuclear research centres, and border customs are enabling international companies to exploit the mines and smuggle dangerous radioactive material across continents.
The Wikileaks cables reveal that U.S. diplomats posted in a number of African countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Niger, and Burundi, among others - have had direct knowledge of the poor safety and security standards in these countries' uranium and nuclear facilities.
The cables also highlight the involvement of European, Chinese, Indian, and South Korean companies in the illegal extraction and smuggling of uranium from Africa. Most European nuclear reactors use uranium imported from African countries.
- The BEAST's Most Heinous Climate Villians of 2010 (Buffalo Beast)