IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: GOP presidential crazy train stops in Fantasy Land on gas prices; Big Oil fights to keep its taxpayer subsidies; Mine official charged in WV mine disaster; Canadian government 'suppressing science'; PLUS: Mutant two-headed trout ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): GOP Not Listening to Its Own Scientists on Climate Change; What Cleantech Bust?; Utilities Blowing Smoke on Coal-Plant Retirements; World's Oceans Get an Acid Bath; Canada's Tar Sands So Destructive It Makes Its Well-Paid Workers Want to Quit; Army Corps brings back streamlined strip-mine permits; Radiation detected 400 miles off Japanese coast... PLUS: Analyst: Recycle All You Want, The Planet Won't Notice ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- 2nd Massey Official Charged in Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster:
- Ex-mine official charged in fatal W. Virginia blast (Reuters0
- Upper Big Branch superintendent charged with 'conspiracy' in mine disaster probe (Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette):
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin alleged that Gary May plotted "with others known and unknown" to put coal production ahead of workers protection and then cover up serious safety violations on numerous occasions during the two years prior to the April 5, 2010, explosion that killed 29 miners.
Well, let's be clear that this prosecution isn't exactly like bringing criminal charges against then-Massey CEO Don Blankenship. Investigators certainly don't believe that May was the final word on working conditions, safety problems, or the push to put production first at Upper Big Branch.
- State backs up previous Upper Big Branch reports (Charleston Gazette):
State investigators have concluded that poor ventilation, inadequate cleanup of coal dust and a routine failure to fix safety problems led to the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine.
- Feds seek 25 years in jail for Upper Big Branch security chief (Charleston Gazette)
- GOP's 'Magical Thinking' on Gas Prices:
- Rising Gas Prices: Not Demand Driven (Bloomberg News):
The national average for gas prices is above $3.50. Yet demand in the U.S. is at its lowest point since 1997. So what's driving this run-up?
- Gingrich and gas prices (Chicago Tribune) [emphasis added]:
Assailing President Obama for high gasoline prices, Newt Gingrich says that when he's president, they'll come down to $2 a gallon. That's because we will "dramaticaly expand our capacity to produce energy." Sounds plausible --- but we've already tried it, and it hasn't worked.
Under Obama, you might think U.S. drilling has been stymied and production has dried up. In fact, just the opposite has happened.
- Fox Still Struggling With Basic Chart Concepts: Gas Price Edition (Media Matters.org)
- What Reporters Are Getting Wrong About Gas Prices (Media Matters.org)
- VIDEO: Newt Talks Gas Prices, Religious Liberty with Greta van Susteren (Newt's YouTube channel)
- Santorum Takes Climate Change Denial To A Biblical Level (Talking Points Memo)
- VIDEO: Santorum: Climate Science Is Obama's 'Phony Theology' (Think Progress Green)
- VIDEO: Santorum In Steubenville: Global Warming Politics, Not Science: Republican Candidate Campaigns On Energy Jobs In Steubenville, OH (WTAE)
- White House Laughs at GOP 'Magical Thinking':
- Why all promises to make gas significantly cheaper are fantasies (Grist)
- Gasbag: Why No President Can Bring Us $2 Gasoline (TIME Eco-Centric) [emphasis added]:
Recession depress economic demand, and when demand is depressed, fewer people drive — which in turns leads the price of gas to fall like any other commodity would when demand falls. As the economy recovered and economic activity picked up — both in the U.S. and elsewhere — the price of gas rose as well. If future President Gingrich were to somehow be able to deliver $2.50-a-gallon gas, it would probably mean the economy had tanked again.
- Obama accuses GOP of playing politics with higher gas prices (The Hill's E2 Wire):
President Obama railed against Republicans on Thursday for “licking their chops” and using a spike in gas prices as a political opportunity.
“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said before a crowd of students. “You pay more and they’re licking their chops. And you can bet since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas,” Obama said. “I’ll save you the suspense: step one is drill, step two is drill, and then step three is keep drilling.
“We heard the same line in 2007 when I was running for president,” Obama said. “We hear the same thing every year. We’ve heard the same thing for 30 years.”
But Obama said “the American people aren’t stupid” and he continued to emphasize that drilling isn’t the only solution to fixing the nation’s energy problems, “especially since we’re already drilling.”
- VIDEO: Carney Says No 'Magic Solutions' on Oil Prices, Amused at Gingrich Attack (National Journal):
There are no magic solutions to rising oil prices and the pain that Americans feel at the pump," Carney said. "This is not something that this administration discovered or rediscovers every spring, as some politicians do."
- Obama to talk energy and gas prices at Miami speech (CNN)
- Blame Oil Speculators, Not Obama, For Rising Oil Prices (Think Progress)
- Oil & Coal Subsidies Distort Price of Energy:
- VIDEO: Dr. James Hansen: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Distort Energy Prices: (American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, Vancouver 2012)
- Rep. Stearns (R-FL) accidentally exposes GOP energy agenda (Grist)
- GAS PRICES FACT: Republican Politicians Oppose Ending Taxpayer Handouts To Big Oil (Think Progress Green):
Every Republican presidential contender and nearly every Republican member of the House and Senate has signed a pledge to oppose ending taxpayer handouts to Big Oil — handouts that will add up to more than $40 billion over the next ten years. In addition, Republicans have repeatedly voted in lockstep to block efforts to repeal the tax giveaways to Big Oil. President Obama, however, remains undaunted and has once again included repeal of these wasteful giveaways in his budget for 2013.
- Obama tax plan takes scalpel to oil tax breaks, boosts renewables (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Canadian Scientists "Muzzled", Science Is 'Under Siege':
- Reporters, Researchers at AAAS Say Canada Muzzles Climate Scientists (Society of Environmental Journalists):
"Orwellian" is the term one Canadian environmental scientist used to describe the conservative Harper government's policy of requiring scientists to get political officials' approval for interviews with the press - and submit to Saddam-style "minders" sitting in on the interviews.
- Attacks Paid For By Big Business Are 'Driving Science Into a Dark Era': (The Observer):
Most scientists, on achieving high office, keep their public remarks to the bland and reassuring. Last week Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), broke ranks in a spectacular manner. She confessed that she was now 'scared to death' by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world.
- Canadian government is 'muzzling its scientists' (BBC):
"I suspect the federal government would prefer that its scientists don't discuss research that points out just how serious the climate change challenge is."
- Researchers accuse Canada of 'muzzling' climate, health findings (Global Post)
- Ottawa decides which science makes press: panel (CTV):
"This isn't about some abstract right that scientists get to chatter about," she said. "This is about important information that has critical repercussions for our health, our safety, our environment, our world, our future, our children's future. And (it's about) the ability to get that information out there so that we as citizens can begin to evaluate and be a part of the decision-making process."
- Scientists call on PM to end gag order (Edmonton Journal)
- Anti-science threatens the world (AFP) [emphasis added]:
A stark theme emerged from an annual scientific get-together in Vancouver: the world must be helped to believe in science again or it could be too late to save our planet.
Science is "under siege," top academics and educators were warned repeatedly at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting as they were urged to better communicate their work to the public.
- Crossing the Line as Civilization Implodes: Heartland Institute, Peter Gleick and Andrew Revkin (Climate Progress)
- Mutant 2-headed Trout at Mine Site:
- Mutated Trout Raise New Concerns Near Mine Sites (NY Times):
Photographs of variously mutated brown trout were relegated to an appendix of a scientific study commissioned by the J. R. Simplot Company, whose mining operations have polluted nearby creeks in southern Idaho. The trout were the offspring of local fish caught in the wild that had been spawned in the laboratory. Some had two heads; others had facial, fin and egg deformities.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- GOP Not Listening to Its Own Scientists on Climate Change (InsideClimate News):
GOP scientists say their attempts to talk about climate dangers with their party's politicians and their aides have largely fallen on deaf ears.
A number of prominent U.S. climate scientists who identify themselves as Republican say their attempts in recent years to educate the GOP leadership on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change have been futile. Now, many have given up trying and the few who continue notice very little change after speaking with politicians and their aides.
- What Cleantech Bust? (Clean Techies):
Suffice it to say up front that Pike Research does not see a bust taking down the cleantech industries. Our January 10 webinar, “The Year Ahead in Cleantech,” included a forecast for combined revenue across the industries and technologies covered in our smart energy practice – biopower, energy storage services, distributed solar, wind energy, geothermal, etc. – at nearly $300 billion. By way of comparison, the global automotive industry, which has been in business for about 120 years, generated $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2010 – less than six times the smart energy industries, which are less than 40 years old.
- Utilities Blowing Smoke on Coal-Plant Retirements (Climate Progress)
- World's Oceans Get an Acid Bath (Inside Science):
Among the repercussions of global climate change, the effect of ocean acidification on marine life is one of the least-understood variables.
The oceans have already absorbed about one-third of the 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide that human activity has added to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. Absorbing carbon dioxide reduces the pH of seawater, indicating an increase in its acidity.
- VIDEO: Canada's Tar Sands: So Destructive It Makes Its Well-Paid Workers Want to Quit (Treehugger):
Amidst all the political wrangling over the Keystone XL pipeline, some may lose sight of what the fight is ultimately about. And that, of course, is one of the most environmentally devastating projects ever undertaken: the tar sands mining operation in Alberta, Canada. Today, a Reddit user who says he was until recently a well-paid tar sands worker, shared the following video—along with why he quit his job over moral objections to the destruction his work was helping to cause.
- Corps brings back streamlined strip-mine permits (Coal Tattoo)
- Transplants offer hope for decaying reefs (Miami Herald):
Researchers at Nova Southeastern University will monitor lab-raised corals to see how they survive on a once vibrant reef off Fort Lauderdale.
- Study: Market factors, not the EPA drive coal-fired power plant closures (State Journal):
study released Thursday points primarily to market factors, not environmental regulation as the driving force behind coal plant closures.
While environmental regulations have received the bulk of attention when it comes time to close a coal-fired plant, closure are generally known to be a result of multiple factors. A new study conducted by Susan Tierney managing principal at the Analysis group, an economic, financial and strategy consultant group, finds market factors, not the Environmental Protection Agency, have driven coal plant closures.
- Judge’s Ruling Complicates Hydrofracking Issue in New York (NY Times):
A state judge’s decision this week supporting the rights of individual towns to determine whether to allow hydraulic fracturing has added a new wrinkle to the fight over the natural gas drilling process in New York.
- US Leads New Coalition to Curb 'Short-Lived Climate Pollution (Environment News Service):
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday announced a new global initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Working together as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Bangladesh, Canada,
Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States will conduct what Secretary Clinton described as 'a targeted, practical, and highly energetic global campaign to spread solutions to the short-lived pollutants worldwide.' The initiative targets three pollutants that together account for more than one-third of current global warming - black carbon, or soot; methane; and hydrofluorocarbons, which are gases used in air conditioning, refrigeration, solvents, foam blowing agents and aerosols.
- New Regs Needed To Deal With Shale --- Report (E & E News):
Antiquated regulations originally designed for conventional oil and gas operations need to be redesigned for the newer era of unconventional shale, according to a report released today by the University of Texas, Austin.
- Radiation detected 400 miles off Japanese coast (CBS News):
Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima power plant disaster has been detected as far as almost 400 miles off Japan in the Pacific Ocean, with water showing readings of up to 1,000 times more than prior levels, scientists reported Tuesday.
But those results for the substance cesium-137 are far below the levels that are generally considered harmful, either to marine animals or people who eat seafood, said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
- WI: Facade of "Responsible Mining" Crumbles; New Mining Bill Proven to Mislead the Public (WI Citizens Media Cooperative) [emphasis added]:
After months of being told that GTAC's plans to dig a four-mile open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Mountains can be done responsibly, two local scientists shatter that myth at a public hearing for Wisconsin's new "ferrous mining bill."
- Recycle All You Want, The Planet Won't Notice - A Video Interview with Gernot Wagner (Treehugger):
Gernot Wagner, an Austrian economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, is a staunch advocate for living green. He takes public transit, recycles, and totes a reusable shopping bag to Whole Foods. But he's well aware that his deeds aren't even beginning to have a serious impact on the health of the planet. And neither are yours.
His new book, But Will the Planet Notice?, argues that it won't. For the planet to notice our efforts, he says, we're going to have to enact policies that provide the proper economic incentives for far-reaching change.
Increasing acidity in the world’s oceans could pose a greater threat to marine life than warming waters.
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- VIDEO: Animation Charts Modern Global Warming (NYT Green)
- 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)
- Climate Scientists Rebuke Rupert Murdoch: WSJ Denier Op-Ed Like 'Dentists Practicing Cardiology' (Think Progress Green)
- Saudi Oil Minister Calls Global Warming "Humanity's Most Pressing Concern" (Climate Progress):
"We know that pumping oil out of the ground does not create many jobs. It does not foster an entrepreneurial spirit, nor does it sharpen critical faculties."
- 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)
- Earth's Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds (NYT Green)
- 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."