IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Irene Special Report: Assessing the damage, and the response; Catastrophic flooding in VT; Rightwing's nutty response to disaster (We're talking to you, Howard Kurtz, George Will, Eric Cantor & Ron Paul!); PLUS: Making the link with climate change - the corporate media won't do it, so we will ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Despite protests, Keystone oil sands pipeline moves one step closer to approval; NASA's Hansen: We Will Continue To Fight Tar Sands Pipeline; Climate scientist vindicated again; Koch Industries fighting against tougher national security rules on chemical plants; Calfornia's 'solar highways' faces regulatory speed bumps; Reversible OLED Solar building tiles light the night; Powering your car with old newspapers?; Wind Power Gains As Gear Improves; More oil drilling in Obama era than Bush era; Earthquake may have exceeded VA nuclear plant's safeguards; Source of Gulf oil sheen near BP oil well is unclear; After Recall, Egg Farms Rack Up Violations; UN warns new mutant strain of bird flu on the rise; Monsanto GMO corn losing bug resistance ... PLUS: Republicans Against Science ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Hurricane Irene: Assessing the Damage & the Response:
- Damage from Irene appears to be less than feared (AP):
Tropical Storm Irene's trek up the East Coast caused less damage than many had feared, a bit of reassuring news for a fragile economy.
Insured damages from the storm will likely range between $2 billion and $3 billion, and total losses will likely be about $7 billion.
- Testing Water Along the Path of Irene: (NYT Green):
Beyond flooding and destruction, Hurricane Irene is likely to have caused less visible environmental damage by dumping sewage, pesticides and other contaminants into waterways along the East Coast, federal officials said. High flows of water can also disturb sediment and make it settle out in new deposits that can clog oyster beds or require new dredging in shipping channels.
- Storm's Worst Deluge Swamped the Mountains in the Northeast (New York Times)
- After Irene, FEMA Facing a Disaster of Its Own - Funding (Washington Post)
- Hurricane Irene Blamed For More Deaths (AP)
- In Catskill Communities, Survivors Are Left With Little but Their Lives (New York Times)
- Irene takes two nuclear plants offline (The Hill):
In Maryland, one reactor at Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs plant automatically went offline late Saturday because a wind gust propelled a piece of aluminum siding from a building into the facility’s main transformer.
In New Jersey, Exelon Corp. took the one-reactor Oyster Creek Generating Station offline Saturday as a precaution ahead of expected high winds from the storm.
- VIDEO: Chris Christie: FEMA works! (Ed Schultz, MSNBC)
- Catastrophic Flooding in VT:
- VIDEO: "We Are Still Under Siege": Vermont Gov. Shumlin on Catastrophic Flooding & Climate Change (Democracy Now!)
- Irene's Death Toll Jumps as Towns Battle Floods (AP)
- Rightwingers' Nutty (& Callous!) Response to Disaster:
- VIDEO: Cantor: Hurricane Disaster Relief Will Have To Be Offset With Program Cuts (Talking Points Memo):
Cantor points out that the House passed a billion additional dollars of disaster relief (offset by a cut to a program incentivizing the production of fuel efficient vehicles) aimed at tornado stricken regions in Missouri and Alabama that the Senate hasn't acted on. But that money's part of a broad Homeland Security appropriations bill, not stand-alone legislation, and the damage Irene caused is expected to run into the billions --- the earliest estimates had total losses at about $7 billion.
- Ron Paul Says Hurricane Victims Should Act Like It's 1900 In Galveston (Treehugger):
In fact, the 1900 Galveston hurricane caused the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in US history, between 6,000 and 10,000 dead, and the US government was deeply involved through the whole thing, including its reconstruction after, as the city was raised on stilts and rebuilt at taxpayers' expense, at cost so high that it never really recovered.
- Ron Paul: No FEMA response necessary (NBC) [emphasis added]:
"We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul said. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.
- As Irene Devastates, Ron Paul Says We Need To ‘Come To Our Senses’ And Abolish FEMA (Think Progress Green):
In a lengthy anti-FEMA screed to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Paul described FEMA as a drain on the economy — a “gross distortion of insurance” that only “bleeding hearts” would support — that “just bail[s] put everybody”.
- VIDEO: Fox's Stuart Varney Worries Obama Will Use Hurricane Irene As "Excuse" To Spend (MediaMatters.org)
- Limbaugh: "Obama Was Hoping [Hurricane Irene] Was Going To Be A Disaster" So He Could Have "Another Excuse" For The Economy (MediaMatters.org)
- What's the Link Between Irene & Climate Change?:
- How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes More Destructive? (Climate Progress)
- Intensity of Hurricanes Still Bedevils Scientists (New York Times)
- Does New York City Need Surge Protection? (NYT Dot Earth)
- Dr. James Hansen: "We Have a Planetary Emergency" (Talk Radio News Service ):
As President Obama's deadline to approve or disapprove licensing of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline draws closer, NASA's lead climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, addressed reporters at the National Press Club to explain the grave consequences of approving such a project. 'We have a planetary emergency,' Hansen, an adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia's Earth Institute, told reporters Monday.
- Politifact: Do scientists disagree about global warming? [No.] (Politifact)
- Conservative, white men most likely to be climate change sceptics, study shows (Guardian UK):
The demographic was more than twice as likely than other adults to say the media exaggerated seriousness of climate change.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Keystone oil sands pipeline moves one step closer to approval (The Hill):
The State Department said Friday that a proposed pipeline slated to carry Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries poses little environmental risk if managed properly, a decision that moves the controversial project one step closer to final approval.
The finding sets the stage for a collision between the White House and environmentalists, who bitterly oppose the project and warn federal approval could sap their enthusiasm for President Obama heading into next year’s election.
- James Hansen: We Will Continue To Fight Tar Sands Pipeline (Steve Liptay)
- Climate Secret: NSF Quietly Closes Out Inspector General Investigation with Complete Vindication of Michael Mann (Climate Progress):
NSF Inspector General: “Finding no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws discussed above, this case is closed.”
And so after countless investigations — 3 in the U.K., 2 by Penn State, the EPA, the NOAA IG — that have all unanimously found the allegations against climate scientists and their research conclusions based on the hacked “ClimateGate” emails to be wholly unsubstantiated, a top GOP presidential candidate backed by the fossil fuel industry still gives voice to the Texas-sized lie (see “Denier Rick Perry Takes $11 Million from Big Oil, Then Claims Climate Scientists ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money“).
- Since 9/11, Koch Industries has fought against tougher government rules on chemical plants (iWatch):
Koch Industries, a leader of industry resistance to proposed post-9/11 anti-terrorism safeguards at petrochemical plants, owns 56 facilities using hazardous chemicals that put 4.8 million Americans who live nearby at risk.
- Regs Run Amok: Calfornia's 'solar highways' face many regulatory speed bumps (Sacramento Bee):
SMUD's solar highways along Highway 50 – the first in the state and the largest in the nation – are supposed to showcase the potential of solar highways in California. What they're also demonstrating is that besides economic and technology challenges, one of the biggest barriers is the rigmarole of regulations – layers and layers of local, state and federal permitting and planning that can be as slow as molasses.
It makes you wonder: How much is the regulatory thicket getting in the way of our clean energy goals and the broader innovation and entrepreneurship we badly need to get California's economy back on track?
- Reversible OLED Building Tiles Collect & Light Up Cities With Solar Power (Video) (Treehugger):
UrbanTiles, created by Israeli designer Meidad Marzan, offers a glimpse into how OLEDs could potentially light up our cityscapes, in the form of two-sided, reversible tiles that have photovoltaics on one side which collect sun energy during the day, and on the flip side, OLEDs which shine using that power at night. Assembled on a surface, this checkerboard of light-collecting and light-emitting tiles could change how our cities are lit at night. Check out this video showing how OLED-skinned buildings could look like:
- Scientists claim that cars could run on old newspapers (Gizmag)
- Wind Power Gains As Gear Improves (NY Times):
One more physical change is that turbines of the future may have flaps on the blades — “like an airplane has flaps,” Mr. Madsen said. Those will allow for better control of the load the turbine handles and should make it easier to build larger ones.
- More Oil Drilling In Obama Era Than Bush Era: Number of the Week: How Many Rigs Are Drilling for Oil? (Wall St. Journal):
1,069: The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. this week.
The figure reflects a huge surge in U.S. oil drilling, up nearly 60% in the past year and the highest total since at least 1987, when oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. began keeping track.
- Feds: Earthquake may have exceeded Virginia nuclear plant's safeguards (The Hill)
- Coast Guard says BP oil well at bottom of Gulf not leaking; source of oil sheen unclear (The Hill):
This week the Coast Guard and BP sent deep-sea robots down to the disaster site and no leaks were found at the well or at two other wells drilled during the months-long effort to get the out-of-control well capped. They say no sheens were seen either.
Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University chemist leading efforts to analyze the BP spill, says samples from sheens found earlier in the week near the site of the disaster matched the fingerprint of the crude that spewed from BP’s well.
The source of the new oil remains unclear.
- Investigation: After Recall, Egg Farms Rack Up Violations (Des Moines Register):
One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa's egg farms. None of the violations have resulted in fines or penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa's egg producers still aren't required to tell state officials when they find salmonella on their farms.
- Bird Flu Back On the Rise, UN Warns (LA Times):
Bird flu was in decline --- but health officials warned Monday that it appears to be on the rise again. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 'urged heightened readiness and surveillance against a possible major resurgence' of the virus, which has crossed over from birds to infect 565 people and kill 331 of them since its appearance in 2003." Scientists say the virus seems to be mutating into new forms resistant to some vaccines.
- Monsanto's GM Corn Losing Bug Resistance (Americablog) [emphasis added]:
But wait, there's already a proposed solution:
Scientists are already working on a new way to make buggies regret they ever thought for a second about eating corn: it's called RNA interference, and it builds genetic code into plants that turns off essential genes of any bugs that eat it. At least, we hope it only applies to bugs.
- Republicans Against Science (Paul Krugman, NY Times):
In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.