IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Snow is BACK! Winter returns to parched Midwest; Time's "Person of the Year" promises action on climate change, but can he deliver?; Good and Bad 2012: top environmental stories of the year; PLUS: It's the end of the Mayan Apocalypse Myth as we know it! (And we feel fine) ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): WSJ's climate "dynamite" is a dud; U.S. Electric Grid 2030: 100% renewable, 90% of the time; 333 straight warmer than "normal" months; U.K. dash a test for global fracking; 'Peak Farmland' as a good thing; China to overhaul solar industry; Keystone XL won't use advanced spill equipment; Sea otters vs. commercial fishermen; MoJo's Eco-Doom Headline Generator; To the Moon!: yes we can grow plants in space ... PLUS: We'll 'never run this economy on renewables' --- and why we'll never have to ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- AUDIO: Limbaugh: "The New Stupid America. That Should Have Been" Time's Person Of The Year (Media Matters)
- Winter is BACK: Blizzard brings snow to parched Midwest:
- Winter Storm Draco ends record snowless streaks across Midwest (Dr. Jeff Master's Weather Underground) [emphasis added]:
While the heavy snow will create dangerous travel conditions, the .5" - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from the the storm will provide welcome moisture for drought-parched areas of the Midwest. Though much of the moisture will stay locked up as snow for the rest of the year, runoff from the storm may help keep Lake Michigan and Huron from setting an all-time record low for the month of December, and may also keep the Mississippi River at St. Louis above the -5' stage though the end of December. If the river falls below -5', barge traffic on the Mississippi may be forced to halt, costing billions of dollars.
- Storms deliver foot of snow in central US, possible tornado in Alabama (NBC News)
- Drought expands in many farm states (Reuters) [emphasis added]:
Drought continued to expand through many key farming states within the central United States in the past week, as scattered rainfall failed to replenish parched soils, according to a report issued Thursday by state and federal climatology experts.
- TIME's Person of the Year: Obama Again Promises Action on Climate Change:
- President Obama, 2012 Person of the Year: Setting the Stage for a Second Term (TIME Magazine)
- Obama: Climate change among top three priorities for second term (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Obama Says Climate Change Will be One of His Three Top Priorities in Second Term (Treehugger)
- Good & Bad: A few of the top environmental stories of 2012:
- This Just In: Preliminary Info on 2012 U.S. Billion-Dollar Extreme Weather/Climate Events (NOAA.gov) [emphasis added]
NOAA estimates 2012 will surpass 2011 (exceeding $60 billion, CPI-adjusted to 2012 dollars) in terms of aggregate costs for annual billion-dollar disasters, even with fewer number of billion-dollar disasters.
- NOAA: 2012 To Rank as Second Costliest Year Since 1980 (Climate Central):
During 2012, there were 11 extreme weather and climate events in the U.S. that reached the billion dollar threshold in losses, according to figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday. While the total number of billion dollar natural disasters is down from 2011, when there were a record 14 events costing more than $60 billion, the economic losses this year are expected to exceed last year's tab, largely due to the massive economic toll caused by Hurricane Sandy and the widespread drought.
- Top 10 Environmental Stories of 2012 (Monga Bay)
- Slideshow: Eight Biggest Energy Stories of 2012 (National Geographic)
- Top 10 Sustainable Business Stories of 2012 (Harvard Business Review)
- Wind & Solar Cheapest for Electricity: Calculating the true cost of electricity (Deustche-Welle):
Taking into account health and environmental damage, wind and solar power from new plants in Europe is actually cheaper than energy from coal and nuclear power plants, according to a new report.
- Saudi Arabia reveals plans to be powered entirely by renewable energy (Guardian UK): World's biggest oil producer says it wants to make a 100% switch from fossil fuels to clean energy
- Communicating climate change: It's about people (SEI International)
- FINALLY: The End of the Mayan Apocalypse Myth as we know it:
- VIDEO: NASA's post-Mayan apocalypse video released 10 days early (Guardian UK):
- NASA debunks Dec. 21 'end of the world' fears (LA Times):
NASA said it has been flooded with calls and emails from people asking about the purported end of the world --- which, as the doomsday myth goes, is apparently set to take place Friday, Dec. 21. And the space agency has one simple response: "The world will not end in 2012."
- Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End (NASA)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- We'll Never Run This Economy On Renewables (We'll Never Have To) (Treehugger):
Whenever we talk about pushing for 100% renewables, naysayers start arguing that we can never run our current economy without energy intensive fossil fuels. But they forget one simple thing: We don't have to.
In a world where you can address a conference from your own bedroom, or order your groceries or even publish a book without ever getting dressed, the old way of doing things just seems, well, increasingly old.
- WSJ's Climate "Dynamite" Is A Dud (Media Matters):
Let's look at each of those errors, one by one.
First, Ridley wrongly argues that three variables factored into current climate models are overstated (and thus that climate models are "unproven"). In fact, experts agree that the impacts of each variable that Ridley cites --- the cooling effect of aerosols (or particles in the air); the rate of heat absorption by the world's oceans; and the role of water vapor in amplifying climate change --- are unambiguous....
- November marked 333 straight warmer than "normal" months worldwide (Washington Post) [emphasis added]:
10 of the warmest Novembers have occurred in the past 12 years. The 10 coolest Novembers on record all occurred prior to 1920.
[T]he last cooler than average month globally occurred in February, 1985 (almost 28 years ago), "the year the hit film "Back to the Future" [the original, not the sequels] first hit theaters ...To put it another way, if you are under the age of 27, you have never experienced a month in which global average surface temperatures came in below the 20th century average," Freedman writes.
- U.S. will let otters roam along Southern California coastline (LA Times):
After 25 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to end its program of relocating the mammals, calling the effort a failure. Fishermen complain:
Federal officials turned Southern California into an "otter-free zone" in the late 1980s after moving 140 otters from Monterey Bay to San Nicolas Island, about 60 miles off the coast of Ventura County.
- U.K. Dash for Shale Gas a Test for Global Fracking (National Geographic)
- 'Peak Farmland' Is Here, Experts Predict, As Crop Yields Rise And Population Growth Slows: And that's actually a good thing! (Huffington Post Green)
- Conservative groups urge lawmakers to end wind credit (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Geoengineering Schemes: Atmospheric governance: (The Economist):
What seems increasingly important to understand, however, is that the need for international cooperation will be if anything more serious in a world that doesn't act to control emissions (or control emissions enough to prevent substantial warming).
- 1st Chevy Volt Owner in USA has Driven 12,000 Miles in 2 Years, Burned 26 Gallons of Gasoline (Treehugger)
- China says it will overhaul solar panel industry by forcing struggling producers to merge (Washington Post)
- Protecting California Coastline as National Monuments (Treehugger)
- Huge power plant gives up on coal, the Times reports with a shrug (Grist):
"Power Company Loses Some of Its Appetite for Coal." This is the best headline The New York Times could come up with.
- The 2,500 Mile Monarch Butterfly Migration: The journey is so long, it takes four generations to make the whole trip! (Treehugger)
- MoJo's Eco-Doom Headline Generator: When climate change takes over, this little robot will carry on if we cannot. (Mother Jones)
- To the Moon!: Plants Grow Fine Without Gravity: New finding boosts the prospect of growing crops in space or on other planets. (National Geographic)
- Keystone XL will not use advanced spill protection tech (FuelFix):
The leak detection technology that will be used on the Keystone XL, for instance, is standard for the nation’s crude oil pipelines and rarely detects leaks smaller than 1 percent of the pipeline’s flow. The Keystone will have a capacity of 29 million gallons per day—so a spill would have to reach 294,000 gallons per day to trigger its leak detection technology.
- Libertarians, engineers, and climate disruption denial: part 1 – libertarians (Scholars & Rogues):
As an electrical engineer myself, however, I didn’t understand how individuals trained in mathematics, science, and logic could fail to see glaring scientific, mathematical, physical, or logical flaws in their own arguments. Eventually, though, something clicked...
- The grid of 2030: all renewable, 90% of the time: Study busts conventional wisdom on price and reliability. (Ars Technica)
- Mercury in seafood: Where does it come from? (Grist):
"Most of the fish that people in the U.S. eat are from the open ocean. And most of the mercury that goes into the open ocean is from atmospheric emissions, which comes from fossil fuel burning," says Chen, a food chain biologist from Dartmouth. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source, globally.
- West Coast contemplates the calm before the storm: Infrastructure alterations needed as global warming makes mark on planet (Vancouver Sun)
- How Corruption Is Strangling U.S. Innovation (Harvard Business Review) [emphasis added:
[T]his isn't the overt, "bartering of government favors in return for private kickbacks" corruption. Instead, this type of corruption has actually been legalized. And it is strangling both US competitiveness, and the ability for US firms to innovate. The corruption to which I am referring is the phenomenon of money in politics.
- 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.
- CO2 Emissions Rises Mean Dangerous Climate Change Now Almost Certain (Guardian)
- Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected (Climate Progress)
- Ocean Acidification: Animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean (New Scientist)
- Global warming targets further out of reach, UN says (Phys.org):
Based on current pledges, global average temperatures could rise by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century --- way above the two degrees Celsius being targeted, said a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
- Thawing of permafrost to be 'major factor' in global warming, warns UN report (UN News Centre)
- 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.
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- Report: Humans near tipping point that could dramatically change Earth (CS Monitor) [emphasis added]:
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)
- 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)
- 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... "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)
- The Real Global Warming Signal (Tamino)
- No, global warming hasn't stopped (New Scientist)
- 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?