IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Perry can't remember the name of the Dept. of Energy --- but wants to shut it down; BREAKING: State Dept. may re-route controversial Keystone XL pipeline; Australia passes world's first carbon tax; More wacky extreme weather in weird places; PLUS: IEA: 5 years to avoid the worst consequences of climate change ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil Executive: use military-style 'Psy Ops' to fight opposition "insurgency"; Video: 'The Story of Broke'; U.S.-China trade war in solar taking shape; Studies link auto pollution to autism; 1st commerical plane flight using biofuel; Oil Lobbyist likes oil industry subsidies: 'There Are No Loopholes ... PLUS: Current global warming unprecedented compared to last 20k years ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Rick Perry Gaffe: Cutting the Dept of Energy Means Cutting Nuclear Safety:
- VIDEO: Rick Perry's Epic Fail in Tonight's Debate (The BRAD BLOG)
- Perry Implodes, Can't Remember What Agency He Wants to Abolish. Over-Exposure to Bus Fumes? (Climate Progress)
- Video: Rick Perry In The Post-Debate Spin Room (TPM)
- Perry has debate 'oops' (The Hill)
- Abolishing The Department Of Energy (Matt Yglesias, Think progress):
But like many of America's cabinet agencies, it's very much a mixed bag of sub-programs. It includes, for example, the National Nuclear Safety Administration which is a bloated big government regulatory effort to make sure America's nuclear weapons function properly. I, personally, would not have a big problem with reducing American's overall nuclear weapons spending but keeping the lights on in the agency that "continuously assesses and evaluates each nuclear weapon to certify its reliability and to detect and/or anticipate any potential problems that may come about as a result of aging" seems important.
- Will Dept. of State Re-Route the Keystone XL Pipeline?
- State Dept eyes rerouting Keystone XL pipeline (Reuters):
The State Department is considering rerouting TransCanada Corp.'s proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline to avoid ecologically sensitive areas of Nebraska, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
A decision to consider an alternative route would require an environmental impact study on the new segment of the pipeline, the official said. Such a move could delay a final decision on whether to go forward on the pipeline.
- Protesters circle White House in oil pipeline row (Reuters)
- More Wacky Extreme Weather in Weird Places
- Alaska blizzard pushes 8-foot storm surge into Nome (Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground):
The most powerful storm to affect the Bering Sea coast of Alaska since 1974 is slowly winding down today, after pounding Alaska's west coast and Eastern Siberia with hurricane-force winds, a destructive storm surge more than 8 feet high, waves up to 40 feet high, and heavy snow. The highest wind gust recorded during the storm, 89 mph, was at Wales at the western tip of the Seward Peninsula, which forms the U.S. side of the Bering Strait. Hurricane force gusts were observed at seven locations in Alaska
- Alaska's Katrina Looms: 'Extremely Dangerous And Life Threatening Storm Of An Epic Magnitude' Approaches (Think Progress Green)
- Unusual tropical storm-like low forms off coast of France (Weather Underground)
- VIDEO: Bering Sea storm lashes Alaska coast: Bering Sea storm (Christian Science Monitor): An 'epic' storm with hurricane-force winds tore roofs off buildings in Nome, Alaska, Wednesday. No one was injured or killed in the unusually strong Bering Sea storm.
- A New Breed of Alaskan 'Hurricane' (Mother Jones)
- Mediterranean storm brings heavy rain and flooding to Italy and France (Washington Post Capital Weather Gang)
- Austalia Passes World's First Carbon Tax:
- Australian Senate Approves Emissions Trading Plan (NY Times):
The upper house of Australia's Parliament on Tuesday approved the government's proposal to adopt an ambitious emissions trading program, marking the end of a prolonged political battle that the business community has watched anxiously and that dragged Prime Minister Julia Gillard's public approval ratings to historic lows.
The new regulations will impose a carbon tax on 500 of the country's biggest polluters starting in July, before becoming a market-based trading program in 2015. The size of the trading program would be second only to the European Union's.
- Carbon tax passes Senate (ABC Australia)
- VIDEO: PM Julia Gillard Carbon Tax Pass Senate - Press Conference (ABC Australia)
- IEA: 5 YEARS to Avoid Worst Consequences of Climate Change:
- VIDEO: `Catastrophic' Implications of Climate Policy (Bloomberg)
- World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns (Guardian UK):
If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change
Any fossil fuel infrastructure built in the next five years will cause irreversible climate change, according to the IEA.
The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this "lock-in" effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world's foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.
"The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. "I am very worried - if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever."
- Five years to act on climate: report (Australia's The Age)
- IEA Warns We're Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming, Delay is Costly (Climate Progress):
International Energy Agency: "On planned policies, rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change."
"… we are on an even more dangerous track to an increase of 6°C [11°F]…. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions."
- Global Climate News: In Lead Up to Durban, Ban Ki-moon Says He Expects "To Find a Way Forward" on Kyoto (Climate Progress)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Oil Executive: Military-Style 'Psy Ops' Experience Applied: (CNBC):
It was a gathering of professionals to discuss "media and stakeholder relations" in the hydraulic fracturing industry - companies using the often-controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as "fracking."
But things took an unexpected twist.
CNBC has obtained audiotapes of the event, on which one presenter can be heard recommending that his colleagues download a copy of the Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual. [AUDIO at link] That's because, he said, the opposition facing the industry is an "insurgency."
- VIDEO: The Story of Broke (Nation of Change):
The United States isn't broke; we're the richest country on the planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing exceptionally well. But the truth is, our economy is broken, producing more pollution, greenhouse gasses and garbage than any other country. In these and so many other ways, it just isn't working. But rather than invest in something better, we continue to keep this 'dinosaur economy' on life support with hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money. The Story of Broke calls for a shift in government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions-renewable energy, safer chemicals and materials, zero waste and more-that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment. It's time to rebuild the American Dream; but this time, let's build it better.
- U.S.-China Trade War in Solar Takes Shape (NY Times):
The Commerce Department in Washington on Wednesday opened an investigation sought by American manufacturers who accuse the Chinese of "dumping" solar panels into the United States at prices, aided by government subsidies, lower than the cost of making and distributing them.
Anticipating that move, the government-controlled Chinese solar industry has been unusually vitriolic this week. A trade group accused the White House of turning the commercial complaint into "a political farce, which is very likely a publicity show initiated by the Obama administration for the coming election."
- Bosco Verticale: the world's first vertical forest (Gizmag):
Italian architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti hopes to merge vegetation and urban architecture, with its Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) project. The Milan-based firm has designed a model that could see the "reforestation and naturalization" of metropolitan cities, by growing forests sky-ways. "Bosco Verticale [is a] device for the environmental survival of contemporary European cities," says Stefano Boeri.
- 2012 Zero S Electric Motorcycle Gets 100 Miles+ on a Single Change (Gizmag):
When we first took the Zero S electric motorcycle for a spin our verdict was that while great fun to ride, impending advances in battery technology will mean that this - and other electric bikes - will only to get better from here ... and they are. Zero Motorcycles has announced a complete overhaul of every model in its 2012 range of electric two-wheelers with new powertrains and upgraded power packs that promise greater longevity, speeds of up to 88 mph (142 km/h) and a significantly improved range in excess of 100 miles (160 km) for the street-oriented models.
- VIDEO: Solar Leaf: While Tea Party Slimes Energy Progress, Innovators Build the Future (Climate Denial Crock of the Week)
It isn't green and it doesn't grow, but the wafer sitting in a beaker of water in Dan Nocera's laboratory is remarkably like a leaf.
Using a silicon solar cell coated with cheap and abundant catalysts, the device uses sunlight to rip apart molecules of water, just like a photosynthesizing leaf. This produces hydrogen and oxygen gases, which bubble up on either side of the wafer (see video). The details are published today in Science.
- Studies Link Auto Pollution to Austism and Stunted Brain Development (Climate Progress)
- China Aims to Dominate U.S. in Smart Grid Investments Just As It Has With Renewables (Think Progress Green):
There is no way to get around this fact-China aims to modernize its energy infrastructure at home and dominate clean energy technology markets abroad. At the 2011 Smart Grid World Forum in Beijing late last month, China's State Grid Corporation announced plans to invest $250 billion in electric power infrastructure upgrades over the next five years, of which $45 billion is earmarked for smart grid technologies. According to its three-stage plan, China will invest another $240 billion between 2016 and 2020 (including another $45 billion toward smart grid technologies) to complete the build-out of a "stronger, smarter" Chinese power grid.
- VIDEO: Oil Lobbyist on Oil Industry Subsidies, On CNN: 'There Are No Loopholes' (Think Progress Green):
Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, American Petroleum Institute lobbyist Marty Durbin claimed "there are no loopholes" for the massively profitable oil industry. CNN's Candy Crowley asked the lobbyist, after showing one of API's ads that claim that removing oil subsidies would kill jobs, how the industry can tell Americans to suffer massive cuts while the top five oil companies have already made $100 billion in profits this year on high gas prices.
- Here Comes the Sun: Solar Energy Rising (OP-ED, Paul Krugman, NY Times):
We are, or at least we should be, on the cusp of an energy transformation, driven by the rapidly falling cost of solar power. That's right, solar power.
If that surprises you, if you still think of solar power as some kind of hippie fantasy, blame our fossilized political system, in which fossil fuel producers have both powerful political allies and a powerful propaganda machine that denigrates alternatives.
- Nation's First Cooking Oil-Fueled Commercial Flight Takes Off from Seattle (Treehugger)
- Parks Chief Blocked Plan for Grand Canyon Bottle Ban (NY Times)
- Medicinal Tree Used in Chemotherapy Drug Faces Extinction (Guardian UK)
- Yellowstone Oil Spill Debris Torched By Montana Officials (AP)
- Current Global Warming Is Unprecedented Compared to Climate of the Last 20,000 years, Study Finds (Climate Progress):
A common argument against global warming is that the climate has always varied. Temperatures rise sometimes and this is perfectly natural is the usual line.
However, Svante Björck, a climate researcher at Lund University in Sweden, has now shown that global warming, i.e. simultaneous warming events in the northern and southern hemispheres, have not occurred in the past 20,000 years, which is as far back as it is possible to analyse with sufficient precision to compare with modern developments. Svante Björck's study thus goes 14,000 years further back in time than previous studies have done. "What is happening today is unique from a historical geological perspective," he says.