IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's official: Worst. Fire Season. Ever.; Rep. Todd Akin is not the only anti-science Republican in the US House; More industrial farming animal abuse; China ventures into the unfrozen Arctic; PLUS: Brain-eating amoebas thriving in Oklahoma ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Record radiation found in Fukushima fish; US court strikes down new EPA pollution rules; Chevron refinery fire was 'a close call'; India blackout and the costs of air conditioning; Agriculture is a major water pollution culprit; Shell inks $1b deal to frack in China ... PLUS: Keystone XL construction begins: 'When This Oil Spills, It's 'A Whole New Monster' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), Just One of MANY Anti-Science Republicans:
- VIDEO: Todd Akin On Rape: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (Huffington Post)
- Congress's Science Committee Doesn't Get Science (Motherboard.com) [emphasis added]:
The crucial difference here is that this clueless gentleman is a member of the committee in Congress that addresses America’s scientific goals. Mr. Akin, who has demonstrated a failed understanding of the human reproductive process, is a prominent member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. It’s a committee that holds some serious power, too—the Science committee has jurisdiction over NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.
It would be one thing if Akin were the lone anti-science science expert on the committee. But he’s not alone. The governing body in charge of many of our most important scientific institutions currently includes a cadre of ideologues with views that disregard actual science as violently as Akin’s, at a time when science funding and public understanding of science are hitting new lows.
- The Most Anti-Environment House in History: How is Your Representative Voting? (Climate Progress):
Since the 112th Congress began, there have been 110 anti-environment votes taken by the House – with 20 related to climate change, 28 on air and water pollution, and 22 on clean energy.
- TOON: Todd Akin on the House Science Committee (NewsDay)
- ‘Legitimate rape’ and Todd Akin’s myths (Washington Post)
- REPORT: Most Anti-Environment House Of Representatives In History Voted 109 Times To Enrich Big Oil (Climate Progress)
- Waxman cites ‘anti-environmental’ votes by Republicans in new report (Argonaut News, Marina Del Rey):
“I think the votes that have been cast against the environment and against protecting our oceans have been very reckless,” the congressman told The Argonaut after the press conference. “The ocean and its health are very important to Californians and these votes have an impact on our coast as well as our economy.”
- Todd Akin and the Anti-Science Know-Nothingism Undermining the Republican Party (Elliot Spitzer, Slate)
- Todd Akin's "Legitimate Rape" Comment Was Not a Misstatement. It Was a Worldview. (Slate)
- Are Republicans Really Anti-Science? (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones)
- Republican Party Officially Embraces ‘Garbage’ Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theories As Its National Platform (Climate Progress)
- Feds Shut CA Slaughterhouse After Undercover Videos Reveal Abuse:
- Feds close Calif. slaughterhouse after abuse video (AP):
Federal regulators have shut down a Central California slaughterhouse after receiving undercover video showing dairy cows — some unable to walk — being repeatedly shocked and shot before being slaughtered.
The USDA probe will include whether sick "downer" cows entered the food supply. That information would be used to determine whether a recall of the company's meat products is warranted. "That's the main issue right now," DeJong said.
- USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply (AP)
- Iowa's Undercover Livestock Filming Bill Approved (AP):
Animal welfare groups reacted with outrage Wednesday after the Iowa Legislature made the state the first to approve a bill making it a crime to surreptitiously get into a farming operation to record video of animal abuse.
- States Crack Down On Animal Welfare Activists And Their Undercover Videos (NPR)
- 4th Warmest July Globally:
- July Ranks as Fourth Warmest on Record (Live Science):
Last month, the planet saw the fourth warmest July since record-keeping began in 1880, according to U.S. weather records.
- 2012 may not end up being the hottest year ever — just close (Grist)
- China Enters the Arctic As Ice Cover Nears Record Lows:
- Sea Ice Death Spiral Watch: A New Low (Climate Crock of the Week)
- Arctic sea ice likely to hit record low next week (Reuters):
Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is likely to shrink to a record small size sometime next week, and then keep on melting, a scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Monday. "A new daily record ... would be likely by the end of August," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the data center, which monitors ice in the Arctic and elsewhere. "Chances are it will cross the previous record while we're still in sea ice retreat."
- First Chinese ship crosses Arctic Ocean amid record melt (Reuters):
An icebreaker has become the first ship from China to cross the Arctic Ocean, underscoring Beijing's growing interest in a remote region where a record thaw caused by climate change may open new trade routes. The voyage highlights how China, the world's no.2 economy, is extending its reach to the Arctic which is rich in oil and gas and is a potential commercial shipping route between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
- Worst. Fire Season. Ever:
- National Interagency Fire Center: Report (NIFC.gov):
Nationally, 39 large fires have burned 1,401,968 acres. Four new large fires were reported: one each in Utah and Wyoming; two in Montana. Firefighters contained two large fires in Utah and Nevada. California and Idaho continue to have the most fire activity.
- America Hit With Record Devastation From Wildfires (Mother Jones):
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2012 just broke the record for most acreage burned by wildfires as of this date (see chart). The previous record was set in 2006, another mega-drought year.
Wildfires have big costs. So far in Utah this year there have been more than 1,000 wildfires that have cost over $50 million to fight. The Chips Fire in Northern California—at more than 50,000 acres—has a running tab of over $17 million as of five days ago and it's still going strong.
- A record fire season for the U.S. (Weather Underground):
Thanks to widespread drought and unusually high temperatures over the past month, 3 million acres have gone up in flames since mid-July, and the fire season of 2012 now ranks in first place for the most acreage burned at this point in the year.
- Analysis: Evidence for climate extremes, costs, gets more local (Reuters):
Scientists are finding evidence that man-made climate change has raised the risks of individual weather events, such as floods or heatwaves, marking a big step towards pinpointing local costs and ways to adapt to freak conditions.
- VIDEO: 1,000 firefighters try to control Ponderosa Fire (KCRA-TV Sacramento)
- OK: Offiicals Warn of Brain-Eating Amoeba!:
- Okla. heat, drought allow deadly amoeba to thrive(AP):
High temperatures and an ongoing drought are having an impact on more than just crops and livestock.
State health officials say they are also creating ideal conditions for the growth of a tiny, single-cell organism that lives in Oklahoma's rivers, lakes and ponds and can cause a disease that is almost always fatal.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Record radiation in fish off Japan nuclear plant (AFP) [emphasis added]:
A pair of greenlings have shown the highest level of radioactive caesium detected in fish and shellfish caught in waters off Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, its operator said Tuesday. The fishes, captured 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) off the plant on August 1, registered 25,800 becquerels of caesium per kilo, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said --- 258 times the level the government deems safe for consumption.
- Edison to lay off 730 workers at San Onofre:
Utility says the plan to cut its workforce was begun before the current problems that have kept the nuclear plant offline. (LA Times)
- Chevron Refinery Fire a "Close Call" (SF Chronicle):
The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board toured the scene of the Chevron refinery fire Monday and released photos of the gigantic vapor cloud that loomed over Richmond before it caught fire. Calling the accident a 'close call' that could have had an 'extraordinarily bigger impact on the community,' Rafael Moure-Eraso said he hopes the agency's investigation will offer lessons to the troubled industry.
- India Blackout: "The Cost of Cool": (NY Times):
The blackouts that left hundreds of millions of Indians sweltering in the dark last month underscored the status of air-conditioning as one of the world's most vexing environmental quandaries.
- Agriculture Is Nation's Biggest Water Polluter But Usually Goes Unpunished (InvestigateWest):
When the state issued him a formal order in 2009 to keep the cows away from the creek, Lemire appealed to a state pollution-hearings board.
This fall his case heads to the Washington Supreme Court in what is shaping up as a pivotal decision about farmers’ obligations to protect Northwest waterways. In a related struggle, Indian tribes are charging that farmers such as Lemire are killing salmon.
- Horses Fall Victim to Hard & Dry Times on the Range: (NY Times):
The land is parched, the fields are withering and thousands of the nation's horses are being left to fend for themselves on the dried range, abandoned by people who can no longer afford to feed them. They have been dropping dead in the Navajo reservation in the Southwest, where neighbors are battling neighbors and livestock for water, an inherently scant resource on tribal land. They have been found stumbling through state parks in Missouri, in backyards and along country roads in Illinois, and among ranch herds in Texas where they do not belong.
- How A Biofuel Dream Called Jatropha Came Crashing Down (NPR):
... wouldn't it be lovely if somebody came up with a biofuel that didn't take food out of people's mouths? A few years ago, some people thought they'd found it: A miracle tree called Jatropha.
- U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down Public Health Safeguards That Would Have Saved 34,000 Premature Deaths Each Year (Climate Progress):
[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), blocking limits to harmful air pollution. The measure would have limited sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution, the main ingredients of acid rain and smog.
Each year, these regulations would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of cases of aggravated asthma (see Table 1). It was estimated to provide up to $280 billion in annual economic benefits through health and environmental improvements alone.
- Corps: Low Mississippi Causes Harbor Closures (ABC News):
Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say low water levels that are restricting shipping traffic, forcing harbor closures and causing towboats and barges to run aground on the Mississippi River are expected to continue into October.
- Shell plans at least $1 billion a year in China shale gas investment (Reuters):
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) plans to spend at least $1 billion a year exploiting China's potentially vast resources of shale gas, the firm's top China executive said, part of an aggressive strategy to expand in the world's biggest energy market.
- Keystone XL construction begins: When This Oil Spills, It's 'A Whole New Monster' (NPR)
- AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low (Business Week):
In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
- After Documents Show Paul Ryan Secured $20 Million In Stimulus Grants, He Claims ‘I Never Asked For Stimulus’ (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
On Tuesday, the Boston Globe and Associated Press reported on documents showing that GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan had secured more than $20 million in stimulus funds for a local energy efficiency organization... His requests came at the same time he was publicly calling the stimulus a “wasteful spending spree.” However, in an interview with a local Ohio television news station, Ryan claimed he never secured funding through the program, saying “I never asked for stimulus.”
- Toilet of the future? Runs on sun. Wins prize. (CS Monitor):
Toilet of the future wins $100,000 from Gates Foundation for solar-powered unit that recycles water and turns waste into energy. Foundation will spend $3.4 million on its 'toilet of the future' initiative.
- Dr. Michael Mann: Fresh Falsehoods from Rich Muller: (Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State Univ.):
THE REALITY: [Muller's] claim is flatly wrong and betrays a disturbing lack of awareness of the published literature (not just the technical literature, but high profile paper in e.g. Nature) for a self-styled 'climate expert'.
- IEA Bombshell: Global Warming May Lead To 'Miami Beach In Boston' Situation Unless Urgent Action Is Taken (Climate Progress):
Ambassador Richard H. Jones warned that if energy policies do not adapt, enough carbon dioxide will be being emitted to reach 1,000 parts per million in the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that equates to 6º Celsius increase in temperature by the end of this century. "That's basically Miami Beach in Boston," he said.
- Bill McKibben: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math (Rolling Stone):
The fight, in the end, is about whether the industry will succeed in its fight to keep its special pollution break alive past the point of climate catastrophe, or whether, in the economists' parlance, we'll make them internalize those externalities.
- Must-See Videos: ABC Interviews Climatologist Michael Mann (Climate Progress)
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- Report: Humans near tipping point that could dramatically change Earth (CS Monitor):
Human activity is affecting Earth in many ways, but a new study suggests that continued population growth and its impact on climate and ecology could trigger a more profound chain reaction of effects within little more than a decade.
- 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)
- Thinking Big: NREL Study Shows 80 Percent Renewables Possible By 2050 (Climate Progress)
- 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-fueled 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."