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May 13 2013

17:39

Enviro News Wrap Up: 400 PPM CO2 Threshold Reached; Winters and Global Warming; Innovative Solar Financing a Game Changer, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 has been reached! Congratulations Planet Earth you are on your way to being unsuitable habitat for billions of humans. Humans will watch our animal brethren decline, then we will follow them. If you don’t like this reality, then “clean” up your life and get political.
  • Oil prices are very important for clean energy industries. Higher oil prices encourage consumers to look for alternatives, increase efficiency and decrease use. The other side is that higher oil prices encourage oil companies to develop previously unaffordable sources of oil in environmentally sensitive locations. Think deep water oil exploration and the BP-Transocean-Haliburton Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Canadian Tar Sands. We need high oil prices but there will be a period of time when oil companies rush to produce as much oil as possible before they get under-priced by clean fuels.
  • Belief in global warming by the American public is always fluctuating, but is it fluctuating with temperature itself? Belief in global warming increased sharply last summer and then rose in the fall again due to the east coast storm Sandy. Then, after a cold winter we have backed down to a nation of 60 percent believers. This shows a real lack of understanding of science on the part of the American people. Its sad when a government by the people, of the people, for the people does not have a people smart enough to understand the more important and complicated issues. Without a united, consistent, overwhelming voice from the American people our government is confused about the issue leaving a void that is filled by dirty energy lobbyists.
  • Man-made dust bowls through climate change will be just like natural dust bowls, people will be displaced and they have to go somewhere. The problem with human caused climate change is that it is happening all over the globe and if people do not have any where to go, what will they do?
  • Solar technology is developing at a steady pace, but the real potential for changing the game in the short term is solar financing (full disclosure: I work for a solar company). When companies get creative and are allowed to fund solar projects in unique ways (like leasing) then solar becomes more affordable for homeowners. Without improving the technology solar can be sold for less than current utility prices. This has happened in California, New York, New Jersey and many more states. Many people do not know that solar leasing is illegal in many states, literally. If our government would just get out of the way deployment of residential solar would explode more than it already is.
  • Banks fund business, so Rainforest Action Network is putting pressure on banks to not fund dirty energy businesses. Bank of America, CitiGroup and JP Morgan Chase are the biggest investors in dirty energy. I quite Chase bank years ago and switched to credit unions, but Bank of America has got me with the credit card. Disassociating and divestment are difficult but we should all slowly figure out how to take our money out of the “dirty economy.”
  • After the devastating loss of the Rainforest Action Network’s executive director Becky Tarbotton RAN appoints an acting executive director, Lindsey Allen.
  • Being the richest nation in the world, you’d think that our drinking water would be, well, drinkable. Too often that is not the case and our government is not setup to ensure its drinkability.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric in California blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno, now their time in court is coming and it could cost them $2.5 billion.  In recent years PG&E has made about a billion dollars of profit annually.

 

 

The post Enviro News Wrap Up: 400 PPM CO2 Threshold Reached; Winters and Global Warming; Innovative Solar Financing a Game Changer, and more… appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

April 18 2011

16:37

Frustration and Hope as Oil Drilling Regulator Remakes Itself

As the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill approaches, both the oil industry and its top regulator say that reinventing the agency that oversees offshore drilling will require more time, money and people.
Sponsored post

March 23 2011

21:45

November 15 2010

19:12

Environmental News Wrap: Fossil vs. Renewable-The True Cost of Energy, and more…


The latest environmental headlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • The cheaper fossil fuels are for consumers the more slowly we will move towards renewable energy. The New York Times takes the perspective that renewable energy is too expensive in this piece about the renewable energy market.
  • The Economist reports on the would be effects if the world reduced subsidies for fossil fuels.
  • The Christian Science Monitor provides a special report on “New Energy.” My only criticism is that they do not mention the solar lease which is now popular and makes solar affordable for many homeowners (full disclosure: I work for a solar company).

19:12

Environmental News Wrap: Fossil vs. Renewable-The True Cost of Energy, and more…


The latest environmental headlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • The cheaper fossil fuels are for consumers the more slowly we will move towards renewable energy. The New York Times takes the perspective that renewable energy is too expensive in this piece about the renewable energy market.
  • The Economist reports on the would be effects if the world reduced subsidies for fossil fuels.
  • The Christian Science Monitor provides a special report on “New Energy.” My only criticism is that they do not mention the solar lease which is now popular and makes solar affordable for many homeowners (full disclosure: I work for a solar company).

September 12 2010

02:17

Coral Off Puerto Rico’s Coast ‘Ideal Case Study’ for Gulf Oil Spill’s Impact

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100825103826.htm ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — Coral living off the coast of Puerto Rico may provide researchers valuable information about the potential impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. University of Central Florida biologist John Fauth, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists and non-governmental agencies are studying the threatened Elkhorn Coral in the [...]

August 10 2010

19:50

Earthjustice Joins Lawsuit Seeking Protections for Marine Ecosystems in Gulf

EarthJustice.org Oil and gas drilling surveys disruptive on ocean animals August 10, 2010 New Orleans, LA — Public interest law firm Earthjustice has joined a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement to challenge its approval of seismic surveys that are known to harm marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. [...]

June 01 2010

22:00

News Wrap-up


GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

13:48

Grieving Our Loss in the Gulf of Mexico


How is one to respond to the oil spill in the gulf? The most common reactions are anger, followed by a sense of powerlessness. As a student of ecopsychology, this situation presents a challenge that is becoming more and more common: if we are to become intimately attached to the Earth, we will feel upset by losing it. This is not an uncommon aspect of human psychology – that to love something or someone means to risk hurting when we are forced to grieve its destruction.

Our sadness is compounded by the factors of the loss being preventable, being slow and steady, and by the mixed messages we get about whether or not we should hold out hope for our loved one's survival. One response is to not become involved. If love equates to loss, the line of reasoning goes, then I’ll protect myself from being hurt by withholding my affection. There are some camps of belief that say that the Earth will survive what some call the “human virus,” that it can and will outlive us long after we destroy ourselves, just as it teemed with life long before we came into the picture, and will perhaps breed new and more sustaining species.

But this nihilist attitude quickly turns into apathy, in which all our efforts are seen as futile. As a thinking, breathing, feeling species, we have been gifted with emotional connectivity. And as a part of the global ecosystem, we realize on some level that there is not much difference between hurting the Earth and hurting ourselves. As this light of awareness dawns, it becomes increasingly harder to unlearn the lessons that brought us out of darker times, when we threw trash out the windows or let the stream carry it away. And so, we are left with an attachment that brings us pain.

Buddhist philosophy warns us to be wary of attachments, as they often become our identities and obscure the bigger picture of who we really are. But nondual psychology, which holds us as capable of liberation from attachments, does not contend that the answer lies in working to transcend all human reactions. Rather, by accepting and facing the very difficulties that our attachment brings, we dive below the surface and find that the true nature of our fragile anger, fear, pain and sadness contains elements of beauty as well.

As BP continues to tell the world that the spill won’t reach Florida, that the chemicals used to clean it are not as harmful as the oil itself, that the estimates of its size are overblown, the blame is misplaced, and this is an opportunity to learn how to do things better in the future, it may behoove us to begin to accept the scope of the catastrophe, to get serious about decreasing our dependence on oil, and to grieve the loss of ecosystems, livelihoods, and habitats. As we allow ourselves to grieve, we allow ourselves to heal. And then, we remember that the Earth is not full of pain. There is also joy.

May 07 2010

19:07

The Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium: Big Oil Cash Spreads Across Gulf as Light Sweet Crude


By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
(reposted with permission)


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is worse than anyone thought, and the crisis will likely go on for months. British Petroleum (BP) is tripping over itself to say it'll cover the costs of the clean-up, yet before the spill, the company spent its time and money pushing back against government regulation and safety measures.

Care2 reports, “A piece of machinery costing .004% of BP's 2009 profits might have prevented the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that is currently threatening the U.S. gulf coast. An acoustic valve designed as a final failsafe to prevent oil spills costs $500,000; the Wall Street Journal writes that the valve, while not proven effective, is required on oil rigs in Norway and Brazil, but not in the U.S.”

Oil is drifting towards the southeastern coastline as clean-up crews and politicians scramble to respond. BP has not staunched the leaks that are pouring more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day. (Ed. note: some estimates from BP itself report estimates as high as one million gallons per day. The fact is that nobody know for sure how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.)

Beach communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are bracing for the oil's arrival and waiting to see what the damage to their businesses and their natural resources will be. And in Washington, members of Congress, who just a couple of weeks ago were willing to compromise on off-shore drilling expansion are rallying against the practice.

As Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said this week, “accidents happen,” but in this case, it’s becoming clear that the oil industry and government regulators did not do all they could to minimize the risks of a spill.

The slick

Over the past week, reporters trying to describe the size of the spill have compared it to Jamaica or Puerto Rico. Public News Service talked to Steve Bousquet, Tallahassee bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times, who saw the slick in flight.

It's really a horrifying thing to see because of the magnitude of it,” Bousquet said. “They use these chemicals to break up the oil and it takes on a kind of rust-colored look to it. And we saw these long streaks, miles and miles long of oil, and just oil as far as the eye can see."

The visual stretch of the spill hardly represents the scope of its impact, either. As Dr. Riki Ott, a Chelsea Green author, explained to CNN:

This is Louisiana sweet crude, and it’s got a lot of what’s called “light ends,” which evaporate very quickly into the air and also dissolve very readily into the water column. So what you see on the surface is like the tip of the iceberg… Imagine a big cumulus cloud of dissolved and dispersed oil under the slick, wherever it is. And that cloud is extremely toxic to everything in the water column — shellfish, eggs and embryos — so shrimp eggs and young life forms that are in the water column, young fish.”

According to Dr. Ott, the extent of the damage won’t be clear for a few years. Oyster fisherman, for instance, would usually be seeding oysters now, as the crops take two years to mature. That work needs to be done within the next few months to avoid economic losses two years in the future, but the precautionary measures shutting off access to waters east of the Mississippi are keeping that from happening.

Oiling the machine

It’s no accident that oil interests work under looser rules. As Lindsay Beyerstein reported last week for Working In These Times, BP wrote to the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) saying that tighter regulation of the oil industry was unnecessary. MMS doesn’t have a stellar history of oversight, and if you’re not familiar with its sordid past, TPM’s Justin Elliott put together a tour through the agency’s history with sex and drugs.

The industry hasn’t just been selling snake oil to MMS, though. Oil companies have been greasing the palms of politicians with campaign donations for years. Democracy Now! spoke to Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil, about the oil industry’s influence.

The entire oil industry, will continue to use its vast wealth – unequaled by any global industry – to escape regulation, restriction, oversight and enforcement,” Juhasz says. “BP, now the source of the last two great deadly US oil industry explosions, has shown us that this simply cannot be permitted.”

The new politics of climate

To see the oil industry’s influence in action, look no further than the ongoing work on the Senate’s climate legislation. Two weeks ago, before the spill, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) announced that the oil industry would back the tri-partisan legislation that he was working on with Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Since then, Graham has stepped away from the bill, and off-shore drilling, a keystone of the negotiations over the legislation, has become much less politically palatable.

But this Wednesday, Kerry had nothing but nice things to say about the oil industry, as Kate Sheppard reports at Mother Jones.

While he acknowledged that "we can't drill and burn our way out of danger," Kerry also spoke highly of the oil companies backing the draft legislation, which was supposed to be released last week,” Sheppard writes. “BP, operator of the rig currently spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, was expected to be among the supporters.”

Ironically we've been working very closely with some of these oil companies in the last months," Kerry said. "I took them in good faith. They have worked hard with us to find a solution that meets all of our needs.”

Kerry still seems confident that the climate and energy bill will move forward, but, Steve Benen writes at the Washington Monthly, that’s things are far from certain.

The legislation was predicated on something of a grand bargain — the left would get cap-and-trade and investment in renewables; the right would get nuclear plants and offshore drilling,” Benen explains. “But in the wake of the catastrophe in the Gulf, there is no deal. Key Dems now insist drilling be taken off the table, while Republicans and Democratic industry allies (Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, for example) now insist they won't even consider a bill unless it includes plenty of drilling.”

While the White House is saying that the oil spill may spur interest in and support for clean energy legislation from Congress, that hasn't happened yet. Congressional leaders might have to wait for the noise from the Hill to die down before they can re-start serious discussions about how to pass a climate bill.

Image credit: Matt Wuerker, the Cartoonist Group

—————-

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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