IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republicans collect another Obama Admin scalp as NRC chair steps down; More bad news for climate change-denying Heartland Institute: Corporate funders flee, Climate expert cleared of 'forgery' allegations; Robot fish! Yep, robot fish; PLUS: Remembering the Joplin tornado, and the ongoing toll of extreme weather disasters... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): VT becomes 1st state to ban fracking; Camp LeJeune Marines could vanquish breast cancer; El Nino, more heatwaves on the way?; Improving US climate science education; Clear Channel rejects climate science billboard; TX renewable power generation jumps; Canada: Valdez-type spill inevitable with tar sands pipeline; Arctic Ocean: newly discovered source of methane ... PLUS: Why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing coal mining? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Obama Commencement Speech Honors the Resilience of Joplin, MO:
- VIDEO: President Obama Speaks at the Joplin High School Commencement Ceremony (White House YouTube channel)
- Transcript: President Obama's speech to Joplin High School Class of 2012 (St. Louis Today):
We are important to each other and we’re stronger together than we are on our own. And that’s the spirit that has allowed all of you to rebuild this city, and that’s the same spirit we need right now to help rebuild America. And you, Class of 2012, you’re going to help lead this effort.
You’re the ones that will make sure we’re a country that controls our own energy future, where we lead the world in science and technology and innovation. America only succeeds when we all pitch in and pull together, and I’m counting on you to be leaders in that effort, because you’re from Joplin and you’ve already defied the odds.
- Polls Show Americans Understand Link Between Global Warming & Extreme Weather:
- POLL: Extreme Weather, Climate & Preparendess in the American Mind: [PDF] (Yale Project On Climate Change Communication):
In March 2012 we conducted a nationally representative survey and found that a large majority of Americans say they personally experienced an extreme weather event or natural disaster in the past year. A majority of Americans also say the weather in the United States is getting worse and many report that extreme weather in their own local area has become more frequent and damaging. Further, large majorities believe that global warming made a number of recent extreme weather events worse. Only about a third of Americans, however, have either a disaster emergency plan or an emergency supply kit in their homes.
- In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change (NY Times)
- Extreme Weather: Extreme Rain Doubled In Midwest: Climate Study (Reuters):
The number of extreme rainstorms - deluges that dump 3 inches or more in a day - doubled in the U.S. Midwest over the last half-century, causing billions of dollars in flood damage in a trend climate advocates link to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Republicans Collect Another Obama Admin Scalp: NRC Chair to Step Down:
- Chairman of N.R.C. to Resign Under Fire (NY Times):
[B]eyond friction with his fellow commissioners, he often found himself the lone dissenting vote on important issues. Among them were the speed with which American reactors should be reanalyzed and improved to incorporate the lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi and whether licenses should be granted for new reactors before those changes were in the pipeline.
- OP-ED: Grow up, NRC (Toledo Blade, 12/11/2012):
When residents gather today at Monroe County Community College to discuss DTE Energy's application for a new reactor at its Fermi nuclear complex, they deserve to be heard by a federal agency that does not waver from its obligation to put safety ahead of politics. But a recent blowup at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raises doubts about that commitment.
- NRC chief says resignation unrelated to bullying claims (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Nuke chief to face Congress next week (The Hill's E2 Wire) [emphasis added]:
Committee Republicans have also blasted Jaczko for closing out a review of the Nevada Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site and for being the lone vote opposing the approval of new nuclear reactors in South Carolina and Georgia.
- House Republicans call on Jaczko to step down immediately (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- $900m Over-budget: A Higher Price Tag for Georgia Vogtle Nuclear Project (NYT Green):
The flagship project of a hoped-for but not-yet-realized “nuclear renaissance,” the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors under construction near Augusta, Ga., may cost about $900 million more than had been estimated, the Southern Company said in a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Billboard Blowback: Donors, Staff Dump Heartland Institute:
- Heartland Institute Hemorrhages Donors And Cash For Extremist Agenda, As Coal And Oil Step In (Climate Progress):
Exposed for its secret agenda to teach climate denialism in classrooms and its outlandish billboard campaign, Heartland has shed sponsors and more than $800,000 exactly because of its extremist position on the climate.
- Heartland Institute facing uncertain future as staff depart and cash dries up: Thinktank's conference opens in Chicago with president admitting defections are hurting group's finances (Guardian UK)
- EXPOSED: The 19 Public Corporations Funding The Climate Denier Think Tank Heartland Institute (Climate Progress, 2/17/2012)
- Scientist Cleared of Faking Heartland Institute Propaganda Documents:
- Peter Gleick cleared of forging documents in Heartland expose (Guardian UK):
Scientist who admitted to deception to obtain internal Heartland documents was found in investigation not to have faked material.
- The Peter Gleick Incident: All Heat and No Light: Will the unethical release of documents from the controversial Heartland Institute undermine climate science? (Scientific American)
- Heartland Documents Reveal Fringe Denial Group Plans to Pursue Koch Money, Dupe Children and Ruin Their Future (Climate Progress, 2/24/2012)
- ROBOT FISH!: New Robot Fish Quickly Detects Water Pollution:
- Robotic fish shoal sniffs out pollution in harbours (New Scientist):
"With these fish we can find exactly what is causing the pollution and put a stop to it right away," explains Luke Speller, a scientist at the British technology firm BMT and the leader of SHOAL, a European project involving universities, businesses and the port of Gijon, which have joined forces to create the fish.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing coal mining? (David Roberts, Grist)
- Vermont Becomes First U.S. State To Ban Fracking (AP) [emphasis added]:
In the coming generation or two, “drinking water will be more valuable than oil or natural gas,” [VT Gov. Peter] Shumlin said.
“Human beings survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and without natural gas,” he said. “We have never known humanity or life on this plant to survive without clean water.”
- How a Bunch of Scrappy Marines Could Help Vanquish Breast Cancer (Mother Jones)
- G8: Leaders Open Up Vital New Front in the Battle To Control Warming (Telegraph UK):
The summit's final communiqué, the Camp David Declaration, supports 'comprehensive actions' to reduce 'short-lived climate pollutants'. These substances – including black carbon (soot), methane, ground-level ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons – are responsible for about half of global warming.
- April 2012: Earth’s 5th Warmest On Record And La Niña Officially Ends, So The Heat Is On. (Climate Progress):
NOAA models predict a good chance of an El Niño forming in the late summer, which would make it quite likely next year would be the hottest on record.
- Climate science education graduates to the next level (Daily Climate):
Educators hope improvements in climate change instruction could raise the quality overall of science education in the nation's primary and secondary schools.
- Climate activists rip Clear Channel for rejecting billboard (The Hill's E2 Wire):
An advocacy group blasted Clear Channel Thursday for rejecting an advertisement aimed at countering a controversial Heartland Institute climate change billboard.
- Texas Renewables Jump 13 Percent in 2011 (Clean Technica):
Texas saw a 13 percent increase in the amount of energy generated by renewable sources in 2011, according to a new report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for about 85 percent of the state.
- Legislation Proposed to Extend Helium Sales Deadline (NY Times)
- Tar Sands: Canada cruising for a major oil spill crisis in the Arctic, academic warns (Canada.com) [emphasis added]:
One of Canada's top experts on Arctic issues is warning of the "near-inevitability" of an Exxon Valdez-scale oil spill at a fragile choke point in Alaskan waters if Canada ends up shipping oilsands fuel to China via pipeline terminals on the British Columbia coast.
- Toxins In US Moms' Breast Milk (NPR's Fresh Air):
When writer Florence Williams was nursing her second child, she read a research study about toxins found in human breast milk. She decided to test her own breast milk and shipped a sample to a lab in Germany. What came back surprised her. Trace amounts of pesticides, dioxin and a jet fuel ingredient — as well as high to average levels of flame retardants — were all found in her breast milk. How could something like this happen?
- U.S. asthma rates at all-time high, CDC says (LA Times)
- NASA Discovers Yet Another Terrifying Global Warming Feedback Loop (Treehugger) [emphasis added]:
Researchers have known for years that large amounts of methane are frozen in Arctic tundra soils and in marine sediments ... But now a multi-institutional study led by Eric Kort of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has uncovered a surprising and potentially important new source of methane: the Arctic Ocean itself.
- Why power generators are terrified of solar (Crikey blog) [emphasis added]:
Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators — as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV — it is in fact eating their entire cake.
- Distorting science: Makers of flame retardants manipulate research findings to back their products, downplay health risks (Chicago Tribune):
Manufacturers of flame retardants would repeatedly point to this government study as key proof that these toxic chemicals — embedded in many common household items — prevented residential fires and saved lives. But the study's lead author, Vytenis Babrauskas, told the Tribune that industry officials have "grossly distorted" the findings of his research, which was not based on real-world conditions. The small amounts of flame retardants in typical home furnishings, he said, offer little to no fire protection.
"Industry has used this study in ways that are improper and untruthful," he said.
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- VIDEO: James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change (TED Talks):
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- VIDEO: Animation Charts Modern Global Warming (NYT Green)
- Must-Read: Economist William Nordhaus Slams Global Warming Deniers, Explains Cost of Delay is $4 Trillion (Climate Progress):
Nordhaus's blunt piece - "Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong" - is worth reading because he is no climate hawk.
"The skeptics' summary is based on poor analysis and on an incorrect reading of the results."
- 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)
- How to Buy Time in the Fight against Climate Change: Mobilize to Stop Soot and Methane: A short list of relatively simple actions taken to reduce greenhouse gases other than CO2 could help put the brakes on global warming--if implemented globally (Scientific American)
- 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."
- VIDEO: Behold: The World's First 24/7 Solar Plant is Up and Running (Treehugger)
- 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."