With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/27/2012, 2:31pm PT  

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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another round of UN climate talks begins in Doha, Qatar with more bad news: Permafrost is melting; PLUS: ALEC & Heartland Institute mobilize to kill clean energy ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...


Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Study links autism to air pollution from traffic; 'Rising seas to swallow NYC if we don’t act'; Rare earths: The rush to production; Superstorm Sandy: Why NY ran out of gas; 7 reasons climate change is ‘even worse than we thought’; Florida's fresh water springs are dying; Saudi Arabia invests $109B in solar ... PLUS: Ocean Acidification: Marine animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean ... and much, MUCH more! ...


  • ALEC & Heartland Institute Mobilize to Kill Clean Energy:
    • Climate skeptic group works to reverse renewable energy mandates (Washington Post):
      The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank skeptical of climate change science, has joined with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at reversing state renewable energy mandates across the country.
    • Conservative Groups Team Up To Fight Renewable Energy: ‘We’re Going To See A Knock-Out, Drag-Out Fight’ (Climate Progress)
    • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist (NY Times):
      Most of the attention has focused on ALEC’s role in creating model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda. But a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.
    • Flashback May 9, 2012: Unabomber billboard continues to hurt Heartland Institute (LA Times):
      The withdrawals are part of what has become a small-scale defection from the institute since it launched what it called an “experiment” in the form of a Maywood, Ill., billboard featuring a photo of convicted “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and the words, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

  • UN COP18: Next Phase of Climate Negotiations in Doha, Qatar:
  • UN Talks Inch Forward, As Scientists Warn Window Is Closing:
    • Deep Emissions Cuts Urged at Climate Summit (Reuters' Alertnet):
      Extreme weather disasters, including floods and droughts intensified by climate change, have totalled many billions of dollars in damages this year.

      And much worse is yet to come, warned the World Bank, International Energy Agency and even the big accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwC) in a separate reports detailing the consequences of failing to make major reductions in the fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change.

      Those reports also urged all countries attending the U.N. climate change negotiations here in Doha, Qatar to agree to do far more to reduce emissions.

    • U.S. holds to climate goals despite poor nations' pleas (Reuters) [emphasis added]:
      A U.N. study last week said the world was on target for a rise in temperatures of between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9F) because of increasing emissions.
      Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said countries need to act now to keep down costs of confronting climate change. "All reports say that it is much more preferable to act now because it is safer and much less costly," she said.
    • U.N. Global Warming Summit: Heading Over the Climate Cliff (Time's Eco-Centric Blog):
      What’s the climate connection? The fiscal crisis and global warming are both, to put it bluntly, problems for tomorrow. Even if Congress can’t come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, the economy won’t collapse immediately and the U.S. will still be able to borrow money, just as climate change won’t render the world uninhabitable next year the world can’t reduce carbon emissions overnight anyway. As a society—and as a species—we tend not to be very good at addressing problems of tomorrow, but in one very important respect, the climate cliff and the fiscal cliff are very different.
    • Doha climate talks open amid warnings of calamity (Irish Examiner)
    • At Doha Climate Talks, U.S. Touts ‘Enormous’ Progress Cutting Carbon Pollution. Seriously. (Climate Progress)
    • Africa Wants World Carbon Emissions Cut (All Africa.com) [emphasis added]:
      The temperature rise affects rain patterns in Africa causing flooding, landslides, prolonged drought, famine and disease. Africa is the least able to cope with the impact of climate change yet its population of a billion people contributes less than 4% of the emissions.

      United States of America alone accounts for 20% of the global greenhouse gases emissions. The developed countries on the whole account for 70% of the emissions.

    • Global warming talks progress is 'slow but steady' – UN climate chief: UN's Christiana Figueres thinks the world community is slowly inching its way toward a climate change agreement (Guardian UK)
    • Outcome of UN climate talks 'lies in hands of rich nations': Brazil, China, India and South Africa say developed nations must produce more ambitious emissions targets for Doha summit (Guardian UK)
    • China's emissions expected to rise until 2030, despite ambitious green policies: The world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases has taken steps to boost renewables, but GDP growth is still the priority (Guardian UK)
    • Why a global climate treaty remains worth fighting for: Governments, businesses and civil society have much to gain from a spirit of determination within the international community (Guardian UK)
    • Doha climate talks: US defends 'enormous' efforts: Negotiator Jonathan Pershing says America deserves more credit for the 'scale and extent' of its action (Guardian UK)
    • The Kyoto protocol is not quite dead: As phase one of the agreement comes to an end, the entrenched positions of countries must now be reconsidered (Guardian UK)

  • Time's Running Out: UN Study Says World Emissions Targets Not Enough:
  • UN Study: Permafrost Melting, Feedback Will Last for Centuries:
    • Thawing of permafrost to be ‘major factor’ in global warming, warns UN report (UN News Centre) [emphasis added]:
      Massive stores of carbon trapped under the northern hemisphere’s frozen expanses risk being unleashed and significantly contributing to global warming should thawing of the region’s permafrost continue to accelerate, a United Nations report warned today....[T]he threat posed by carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost has only begun to enter mainstream scientific discourse in recent years and, as a result, has not been included in climate prediction modelling.
    • READ IT: UNEP: Policy Implications of Melting Permafrost [PDF] (UN Environment Programme)
    • UN: methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point: Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost (Guardian UK):
      Thawing permafrost releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this has not yet been included in models of the future climate. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon – twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key "tipping points" that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • Study: Autism Linked to Air Pollution From Traffic: USC study suggests air pollution may contribute to autism (USA Today):
    Using data from Califonia's Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment, University of Southern California researcher Heather Volk found that pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution were nearly three times as likely to have a child with autism as people who were in the lowest quartile of exposure.
    Scientists are split about what causes autism, but most agree that there is both a genetic and environmental component to the disease. Volk says her study suggests, but does not confirm, that air pollution may play a role in whether a child develops autism.
  • Shortcomings of study linking autism to air pollution highlight need for better research (Boston Globe):
    While all of these caveats don’t necessarily invalidate the findings, they do point to a larger issue: the need for better designed, better funded studies to determine with more finality what’s leading to the precipitous rise in autism in American children.
  • NY Times Warns On Climate Change: ‘Fear Death By Water’, Rising Seas Likely To Swallow Up City If We Don’t Act Soon (Climate Progress):
    The NY Times (finally) goes apocalyptic on climate change.
  • Rare earths: The rush to production (SF Gate):
    Their value isn't in their beauty (though they can be pretty enough as faux gemstones) or in their scarcity (they're anything but rare). Their value is in their cultural necessity. Could we live an hour without them? If you ignore their magic for a moment, they become mere commodities - mined, refined, sold and shipped. That's the first problem with rare earths. The second? China supplies more than 97 percent of the global market.
  • Superstorm Sandy: Why New York ran out of gas (Grist)
  • Washington state confronts ocean acidificationWashington state confronts ocean acidification (Washington Post)
  • New Scientist: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’ (Climate Progress):
    Nearly 3 years ago, the late William R. Freudenburg discussed in a AAAS presentation how new scientific findings since the 2007 IPCC report are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.”
  • Florida's vanishing springs (Tampa Bay Times):
    A century ago Florida's gin-clear springs drew presidents and millionaires and tourists galore who sought to cure their ailments by bathing in the healing cascades. Now the springs tell the story of a hidden sickness, one that lies deep within the earth:
    All of it — particularly the saltiness — is a dark omen for the future of the state's water supply.
  • Saudi Arabia announces $109bn solar strategy: Work is due to start on the country's first solar farm early next year, officials say (Guardian UK)
  • Ocean Acidification: Animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean (New Scientist):
    "This is actually happening now," says Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. He and colleagues captured free-swimming sea snails called pteropods from the Southern Ocean in early 2008 and found under an electron microscope that the outer layers of their hard shells bore signs of unusual corrosion.

    As well as warming the planet, the carbon dioxide we emit is changing the chemistry of the ocean.

  • COVER STORY: It's Global Warming, Stupid (Businessweek):
    Yes, yes, it's unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us-and they're right-that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.
    If all that doesn't impress, forget the scientists ostensibly devoted to advancing knowledge and saving lives. Listen instead to corporate insurers committed to compiling statistics for profit.
  • Essential Climate Science Findings: