IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Riots over oil in Nigeria; Victory over Big Oil in Ecuador; Curbing drug abuse (antibiotic drug abuse, that is) and antibiotic super bugs(!) in farm animals; Heat wave in Antarctica; PLUS: Mutant hybrid sharks! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): December 2011 setting heat records; Is there really 100 years’ worth of natural gas beneath the United States? [NO.]; Insurance payouts point to climate change; U.S. coasts unprepared for higher seas; The end of real maple syrup?; EPA regs create more jobs than Keystone XL pipeline; Low income kids exposed to more pollution; Future of a stable climate depends on the 2012 Presidential Election: report ... PLUS: ZOMG! Zomb-bees! ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Riots in Nigeria Over End to Fuel Subsidies:
- RAW VIDEO: Nigerian Fuel Protests Heat Up (Reuters)
- Nigeria fuel protests intensify: Anger grows as cost of a gallon of petrol doubles in days after government removes subsidies (Guardian UK):
Few, though, have seen any benefit from the country’s vast oil wealth over decades of production, and a culture of distrust of government permeates Nigerian society. Most residents subsist on less than $2 a day and the subsidy removal saw gas prices rise from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter).
- Police break up fuel protest in north Nigeria (Guardian UK)
- Nigeria Subsidy Protests Turn Violent (All Africa.com)
- Coastal villages in Nigeria protest as crude oil washes ashore (MSNBC)
- Victory Over Big Oil in Ecuador:
- Ecuador court upholds historic environmental case against Chevron (Miami Herald):
On Tuesday, an Ecuadoran appeals court agreed, upholding an $18 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. saying it was liable for the shoddy environmental practices of its predecessor, Texaco, which dumped millions of gallons of oil-tainted waste water in streams and creeks. Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1960 to 1992 and the two companies merged in 2001.
- Ecuadorian court upholds $18B judgment against Chevron (Legal Newslines):
"Whether people live or die depends largely on whether Chevron meets its responsibility to remediate a problem it created. Chevron broke the rainforest. It now must fix it."
- Chevron Case Could Last Years (Wall St. Journal):
Chevron, which inherited the case in 2001 with its purchase of Texaco, vehemently denies the charges and has vowed to put up fierce resistance. On Tuesday it called the court's decision "illegitimate," and has launched vigorous legal offensives against the plaintiffs in U.S. courts and against the Ecuadorean government, which it accuses of meddling in the case, in international tribunals. Ecuador denies Chevron's allegations of interference.
- Brazil cites Chevron third time for oil spill (Reuters)
- US Taxpayers Give 250 Subsidies to Fossil Fuels Every Year:
- Today in Green IT: The fossil fuel subsidy game (Giga.om):
How is it that the political winds are beating against renewable energy support when fossil fuels have been supported for almost a century and their support is actually growing year to year, and yet nobody blinks an eye?
He says the answer lies in the fact that when an industry has been subsidized for almost a century, as is the case with the fossil fuel industry, the ways in which those companies are supported get numerous and complex. The OECD’s report counted at least 250 mechanisms.
- There Are Over 250 Different Kinds of Fossil Fuel Subsidies We Need to Kill (Treehugger) [emphasis added]:
All this means that a) fossil fuels have an even more massive advantage over clean energy than is conventionally understood, and b) removing that advantage is going to be a tricky, forebodingly uphill battle.
- Fossil fuels receive 250 different kinds of subsidies (Grist):
[U]nlike federal subsidies for renewables, which are constantly haggled over in spending bills, a lot of these are sneaky. They include everything from direct subsidies to tax loopholes and government spending on infrastructure on which fossil fuel industries depend. Worse, these subsidies are actually growing from year to year.
- Big shift for gas-guzzling nation: fuels are top US export; oil imports still world’s highest (Washington Post)
- FDA Fights "Superbugs", Restricts Antibiotics Abuse In Farm Animals:
- FDA Limits Some Antibiotics in Livestock (AP)
- FDA Takes a Baby Step on Factory Farm Antibiotics (Mother Jones):
Citing concern that routine use on factory farms will push pathogens to develop resistance to these antibiotics, the FDA has banned certain uses of them. Now before I show just how limited this move is in the grand scheme, I have to stress its historical significance. For 34 years, the agency has been wringing its hands over the dangers of farm antibiotic abuse, all the while doing precisely nothing about it (save for appointing committees and issuing polite requests for "judicious" use). Now it's actually regulating. The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farms, which advocates a ban on routine antibiotic use, praised the move Wednesday as an "important first step" in addressing the problem.
But make no mistake: This is just a first step, and nothing more.
- On Antibiotic Use, Factory Farms Police Themselves (Mother Jones)
- Feds To Rein In Use Of Some Antibiotics On Animals (NPR)
- Heat Wave in Antarctica:
- Heat Wave in Antarctica: (Antarctic Sun) [emphasis added]:
The temperature officially hit 9.9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12.3 degrees Celsius) about 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 25, according to South Pole Station External U.S. government site senior meteorologist Phillip Marzette. That shattered the old record of 7.5F (minus 13.6C) set on Dec. 27, 1978...
Those sorts of temperatures may not qualify as mild to some people, but consider that the average annual temperature at the South Pole is about minus 56.9F (minus 49.4C). In the summer, from late October to early February, the average is closer to minus 26F (minus 32C), Marzette said.
- AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!: MUTANT HYBRID SHARKS!!!!!!:
- First-ever hybrid shark discovered off Australia (Washington Post):
Scientists have identified the first-ever hybrid shark off the coast of Australia, a discovery that suggests some shark species may respond to changing ocean conditions by interbreeding with one another.
- Hybrid sharks 'evolution in action' (NZ Stuff blog)
- Warmer sea may 'cause' hybrid shark (Northern Star, Australia)
- World's first hybrid shark is found off Australia - and interbreeding could make them stronger (UK Daily Mail)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Mother Nature is Just Getting Warmed Up: December Heat Records Exceed Cold By 80%, Annual Ratio Hits 2.8-to-1 (Climate Progress):
“Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”
- Fracking: Is there really 100 years’ worth of natural gas beneath the United States? [NO.] (Slate)
- Insurance payouts point to climate change: A three-decade trend shows a steady global increase in weather and climate related disasters: (Science News):
Natural disasters in 2011 exerted the costliest toll in history — a whopping $380 billion worth of losses from earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis and more. Only a third of those costs were covered by insurance. And the tally ignores completely any expenses associated with sickness or injuries triggered by the disasters.
[The] trend, [Ernst Rauch of Munich Reinsurance] said, provides strong evidence that climate change is already impacting human suffering and the world’s economies.
- 20 inches to disaster: U.S. coasts unprepared for higher seas (Grist):
if we're ready to "deal with" almost 50 percent more affected people and 73 percent more property losses from a typical Category 3 hurricane --- all because of the higher storm surge that'll come from that additional 20 inches of sea level. ("Storm surge," in case you don't know, describes the ocean water that a storm's winds bring ashore, in addition to what's usually there with normal tides.)
- The End of Real Maple Syrup?: Acid rain's blind spot (Toledo Blade):
University of Michigan researchers say future generations of sugar maple trees are at risk unless soft spots in the federal Clean Air Act are strengthened to address an old nemesis: acid rain.
Precipitation that is highly acidic from burned fossil fuels has been largely under control since the early 1990s. In 1989, the federal government adopted a system to control acid rain through large reductions of sulfur dioxide. Electricity-producing coal-fired power plants were allowed to meet tougher limits through swaps of so-called emission credits.
- ‘Job-Killing’ EPA Regulations for Chesapeake Bay Will Create 35 Times as Many Jobs as Keystone XL Pipeline (Think Progress Green):
A new report released today by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights the job creation numbers expected to come from achieving new pollution goals set by the EPA’s “Total Maximum Daily Load” restrictions. [...] [T]hese rules require a 25 percent reduction of pollution flowing into the Bay by 2025 and have already spurred state and federal investment in stormwater mitigation projects, upgrades at sewage treatment facilities, addition of power plant smokestack scrubbers, and improvements to management of agricultural runoff and livestock waste management.
- BP fund resumes payments to spill victims (Reuters):
BP's $20 billion oil spill fund said it had resumed payments to eligible victims on Wednesday after receiving clarification from a U.S. district court regarding an escrow account set up to cover certain legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs' lawyers.
- ZOM-BEES: Study says parasitic fly could explain bee die-off (AP) [emphasis added]:
Northern California scientists say they have found a possible explanation for a honey bee die-off that has decimated hives around the world: A parasitic fly that hijacks the bees' bodies and causes them to abandon hives....causing the infected bee to exhibit zombie-like behavior by walking around in circles with no apparent sense of direction. The bee leaves the hive at night and dies shortly thereafter.
- Oil Price Would Skyrocket if Iran Closed the Strait of Hormuz (NY Times):
If Iran were to follow through with its threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit route for almost one-fifth of the oil traded globally, the impact would be immediate: Energy analysts say the price of oil would start to soar and could rise 50 percent or more within days.
- Keystone Inspector Alleges Shoddy Work on Original Pipeline (Canadian Press)
- Dept. of DUH: Schools in Low-Income Neighborhoods Exposed to More Pollution: study (The Province, Canada):
Public elementary schools in low-income neighbourhoods are more likely to be located near a major road or highway, exposing students to higher levels of air and noise pollution, according to a new B.C. study.
- Panel Urges Lower Legal Cutoff For Child Lead Poisoning: (AP):
For the first time in 20 years, a federal panel is urging the government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children.
- Tasty Toxins: Industry Wary of Dioxin Guidelines (Wall St. Journal):
Farmers and the food industry are asking the Obama administration to ease coming federal guidance that will advise consumers to minimize their intake of dioxins, chemicals that may be harmful at certain levels.
- NY State Wins Review of Nuclear Plant Accident Plans (Environment News Service):
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a bid by Entergy, owner and operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, to reverse an order to complete legally-required analyses of the facility's severe accident mitigation measures before it can be relicensed.
- HSBC Report: Future Of Global Climate Deal Dependent On 2012 Election (Think Progress
Green) [emphasis in original]:"[The] prospects for a new global climate deal in 2015 depend considerably on the election of a pro-climate action president. The election of a President opposed to climate action will not only damage growth prospects for low-carbon solutions in the USA itself, but will make the hard task of negotiating a new global agreement by 2015 almost impossible. If Obama is re-elected with support in both houses, we expect modest measures to introduce a federal clean energy standard for electricity; a stripped down cap and trade programme could re-emerge building on the regional scheme on the West and East coasts."
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of All Climate Science Denier Arguments
- Part 1: The brutal logic of climate change (David Roberts, Grist) [emphasis added]:
It's simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. "Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake" footing. That simply won't be possible unless a critical mass of people are on board. It's not the kind of thing you can sneak in incrementally.
It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don't want to hear it.
- Part 2: The brutal logic of climate change mitigation (David Roberts, Grist)
- 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)
- The Real Global Warming Signal (Tamino)
- No, global warming hasn't stopped (New Scientist)
- Top UN Climate Official Blasts U.S. Climate Policy: Americans Must Realize "This Is Their Future They're Compromising" (Think Progress Green)
- VIDEO: Climate Scientists Michael Mann on "A Look Into Our Climate: Past To Present To Future" (TEDx, YouTube)
- Heads in the Sand: Warning: "Climate change is occurring … and poses significant risks to humans and the environment," reports the National Academy of Sciences. As climate-change science moves in one direction, Republicans in Congress are moving in another. Why?
(National Journal) [emphasis added]:Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, says there's no question that the influence of his group and others like it has been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science. "If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there's been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political," he said.
Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it."