IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Newt makes stuff up; Historic drought in TX now worst in a century; This week's newest oil spill, now in CO; Extreme weather disasters will cost even more due to global warming; One step forward, two steps back in UN climate negotiations; PLUS: House GOP wins another courageous battle in the fight against imaginary regulations ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): In spite of Solyndra, military solar project a GO; How to slash CA's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; Abrupt climate change possible from melting permafrost; Study: Renewables can reduce pollution at no cost to the economy; Running dry on the Great Plains; Algae bloom baffles scientists; Study Shows Worse Picture of Meltdown in Japan ... PLUS: The end of world as we know it: a surprisingly uplifting documentary... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- "Wind-icane" Knocks Out Power in Los Angeles:
- Historic Drought in TX Worst in 100 Years (Maybe 1000 years):
- Warming-Enhanced Texas Drought Is Once in "500 or 1,000 Years …Basically Off the Charts," Says State Climatologist (Climate Progress)
- As Water Levels Drop, Texas Drought Reveals Secrets of the Deep (NY Times) [emphasis added]:
For more than three years, the lake on Jack Mewbourn's ranch here held a secret at its murky bottom: A 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His grandson was the first one to notice the top of the car peeking out of the water. It wasn't luck, or even fate. It was drought.
- Historic Texas drought could leave lasting impact (CBS News)
- The Texas Drought, As Seen from Space (Things Don't Look Good) (NPR State Impact):
A drought is a strange type of disaster. While hurricanes, tornadoes and floods do their damage quickly and dramatically, drought is like a slow death, a drying out of life and land. A house can be rebuilt after a flood recedes, but with a drought all you can do is wait for rain. And wait.
- NASA satellites find Texas aquifers at record low: It could take months or years for groundwater to fully recharge, say scientists (AP)
- NASA maps show dire conditions in Texas due to drought (Houston Business Journal)
- Odds are good that Texas drought will persist (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- This Week's Newest Oil Spill, Now in CO:
- Suncor's Colorado Refinery Leaks Tar Sands Crude (Environment News Service):
An oil leak at Colorado's only petroleum refinery has been contained and the cause of the leak is under investigation, refinery owner-operator Suncor Energy said today. While no one seems to know when the oil seep from Suncor's Commerce City refinery began or how much oil has been spilled, the contamination of the South Platte River, source of Denver's drinking water, is apparent.
- Suncor says leak from Colorado oil refinery contained (Reuters)
- Suncor Hazmat Teams Trying To Contain Oil Seep (ABC 7 Denver)
- House GOP Wins Courageous Battle Against Imaginary Regulations:
- Newt Promotes Dust Rule Myth To Attack EPA 'Radicals' (Think Progress Green) [emphasis added]:
Despite the health threat from the tons of toxic dust produced by industrial agribusiness, there are no federal regulations protecting agricultural workers. Only two states, California and Arizona, have rules on farm dust. Although "farm dust regulation" is a popular Republican talking point, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly affirmed that her agency has no plans to issue a farm dust rule.
- House panel to vote on phantom EPA dust rule (Washington Post)
- COP17: the 17th Annual Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Durban, S. Africa
- Live Streaming & Video: WATCH the UN Climate Conference: (United Nations):
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world's governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.
- A Practical Guide to DURBAN CoP 17 (Climate Himalaya)
- UPDATE on COP17: the 17th Annual Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Durban, S. Africa:
- Durban climate conference sees shifting geopolitics (AFP)
- Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty until 2020 (Guardian UK): Ahead of critical talks and despite pledge for new treaty by 2012, biggest economies privately admit likelihood of long delay
- Kyoto protocol 'will be on life support' after Durban summit: US environmental research centre predicts no agreement to keep climate change treaty in place beyond 2012 (Guardian UK)
- COP-17: EU wants global climate deal by 2015 (Business Day): European Union's director of climate policy says the world needs a more ambitious plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
- VIDEO: Special Envoy Todd Stern Discusses COP-17 (US State Dept.)
- Durban climate talks: there is a feasible plan B to combat climate change (Guardian UK):
The Durban talks can be a success if they build on what has emerged in the aftermath of the Copenhagen summit's failure
Plan B may be the only option, but it's still a high-risk gamble, as the UN's environmental chief, Achim Steiner, scathingly argues: "The world has no option but to reach a binding agreement. If we don't have a global agreement, we become captive to the narrow self-interest of countries who only see the competitive advantage rationale in whether to act [on emissions] or not."
- China critical of Kyoto withdrawal plan (China Daily)
- Forest-Dependent Communities Lobby for End of REDD+ (IPS News):
Organisations working with indigenous peoples living in forests say the United Nations programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is just another way for big corporates to reap huge profits.
REDD+ has been touted as a global scheme to conserve forests, enhance carbon stocks and support sustainable forest management.
- EU wants global climate deal by 2015: European Union's director of climate policy says the world needs a more ambitious plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions (Business Day)
- A Fair COP: 'Fate of World to be Decided on Dec. 9: (OpenDemocracy.org):
The date the world ends (or doesn't) is set. 9 December 2011. The United Nations Climate Change summit, COP17, concludes that day and so does any realistic hope of keeping climate change to the already significant 2°c increase in global temperatures that countries have signed up to.
While it is in the best interests of every man, woman and child on this planet to put into effect massive, sustained and genuine measures to halt global warming, there is a yet higher prize for every single negotiator at the table: to bring about an accord which limits everyone else (thus saving the planet) while leaving their nation free to carry on or even increase emissions (thus saving their political careers). It is therefore recognised as a classic instance of the prisoner's dilemma.
- Desmond Tutu, others scold Canada over climate policy (CTV)
- Pope calls for responsible, credible climate deal (AP)
- Investment Falls in United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (Reuters)
- Banks seen as climate culprits at global talks: report (Reuters):
Major global banks are exacerbating the fight against global warming by supplying power utilities and mining firms with ample funds to build coal-fired plants, according to a report released by non-governmental groups at the climate talks in Durban.
- Qatar Wins Bid To Host 2012 Climate Talks (Guardian UK)
- WMO: 2011 one of hottest years on record (Reuters)
- UN IPCC: Scientists Warn of Increasing Costs of Extreme Weather Disasters:
- UN scientist: fighting climate change saves costs (AP):
The U.N.'s top climate scientist cautioned climate negotiators Wednesday that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs, but containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summarized a litany of potential disasters at a U.N. climate conference in the South African city of Durban. Although he gave no explicit deadlines, the implication was that time is running out for greenhouse gas emissions to level off and begin to decline.
Heat waves currently experienced once every 20 years will happen every other year by the end of this century, he said.
- From Cairo To the Cape, Climate Change Begins To Take Hold of Africa (Guardian UK)
- Pope Benedict Calls for "Credible" Action at Durban Talks to Address "Disturbing" Climate Change (Think Progress Green)
- Study: Erratic, extreme day-to-day weather puts climate change in new light (Princeton University):
The first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions has found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet.
- Killer Floods Strike Durban At Start Of Climate Talks (Think Progress Green)
- Erratic, Extreme Day-to-Day Weather Puts Climate Change in New Light and Creates Potential New Amplifying Feedback (Climate Progress)
- NBC's Must-See TV: "Today No One Can Deny That Extreme Weather is Here to Stay" Thanks to Fossil-Fuel Driven Warming (Climate Progress)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- After Solyndra loan woes, military solar project a go (Army Times):
A $1 billion solar energy project that lost a federal loan in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy and related investigations is back on track to nearly double the number of panels on residential rooftops in the U.S.
San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity said Wednesday that it had reached a deal with Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit for financing the five-year project called SolarStrong. The venture would put shimmering solar panels on 120,000 military houses in dozens of states.
- A How-To Guide to Slashing California's Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 (Climate Progress):
What will a day in the life of a Californian be like in 40 years? If the state cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 - a target mandated by a state executive order - a person could wake up in a net-zero energy home, commute to work in a battery-powered car, work in an office with smart windows and solar panels, then return home and plug in her car to a carbon-free grid.
Such is a future envisaged in a study published Nov. 24 by the journal Science.
- New estimate boosts permafrost contribution to climate change (Fairbanks Daily News Miner) [emphasis added]:
An international group of researchers believes greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost will be released at a much faster rate than previously estimated, which could have significant implications for climate change projections.
A survey of 41 scientists - including seven University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers - estimates the amount of carbon released from thawing permafrost by 2100 will be 1.7 to 5.2 times larger than previously estimated.
"Our collective estimate is that carbon will be released more quickly than models suggest, and at levels that are cause for serious concern," the article states.
- Britain's promotion of Canada's tar sands oil is idiotic: A deal to sell tar sands oil in Europe would outweigh any good the UK might do with all its other climate change measures (Bill McKibben, Guardian UK)
- Algae Blooms' Sudden Spread Stumps Scientists: (SF Chronicle):
Marine scientists are trying to find out why previously unknown blooms of toxic algae are suddenly proliferating along the California coast, killing wildlife and increasing the risk of human sickness.
- Clean Energy Standards Can Scale Renewables and Reduce Pollution at No Cost to the Economy, Study Finds (Climate Progress):
EIA analysis finds that Senator Bingaman's clean energy standard would reduce carbon emissions by 43% and lower GDP growth by just .02 percent.
- Running Dry on the Great Plains (op-ed, NY Times):
Like them, we called our Ogallala water "precious" and bragged that it was the best in the world. But the aquifer's only natural recharge comes from rain and snow. In our Kansas district, less than half an inch of that reached the aquifer in a given year. We were allowed to pump out over 30 times that amount.
When I expressed concern, my father assured me that the government would step in to stop us someday. Until then, he liked to tease, "I got mine!" But the government has not stepped in.
- Why the Chevy Volt's Fire Problem Is Actually a PR Problem (GOOD Magazine)
- Study Shows Worse Picture of Meltdown in Japan (NY Times):
Molten nuclear fuel may have bored into the floor of at least one of the reactors at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the complex's operator said Wednesday, citing a new simulation of the accident that crippled the plant in March.
- Commercial 'green' solar cells may be possible: researchers (PhysOrg):
Although current plastic solar cells are low in cost and easy to produce, they are not energy efficient and, therefore, not easily commercialized. With grant funding from the National Science Foundation, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are predicting a way to produce solar cells that will offer more flexibility in generating green energy.
- BP Spill Fund Raises Limits for Shrimp & Crab Losses: (NY Times):
Under a new formula announced on Wednesday by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion fund set up by BP for victims of the 2010 oil spill, shrimp and crab fishermen along the Gulf Coast may be eligible for settlement payments significantly larger than what they were previously offered.
- GOP Congress kills request for National Climate Service (Washington Post)
- VIDEO: Science Fact, Not Fiction: Isaac Asimov on the Greenhouse Effect (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
- Why energy journalism is so bad (Pro Publica):
Today I will try to teach you how to read reports on energy without getting lost.
- Documentary on the end of world as we know it is surprisingly uplifting (Grist.org):
The new documentary The Crisis of Civilization is the most user-friendly exploration of imminent doom you'll ever see. Through interviews, found footage, and animation, the film actually manages to make the unwinding of our conventional, fossil-fueled, more-is-more industrial civilization accessible. And importantly, it pays just as much attention to solutions as to problems.
- Essential Climate Science Findings:
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of All Climate Science Denier Arguments
- World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns: If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change (Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
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.
"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."
- Concise Overview: The IPCC report on extreme climate and weather events (Real Climate)
- READ the IPCC Report: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
- New estimate boosts permafrost contribution to climate change (Fairbanks Daily News Miner) [emphasis added]: