Why the Chill on Climate Change?

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_chill_on_climate_change_20121021/

By Eugene Robinson
Oct 21, 2012

Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.

President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is trapping heat in the atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic long-term effects. Mitt Romney’s view, as on many issues, is pure quicksilver—impossible to pin down—but when he was governor of Massachusetts, climate change activists considered him enlightened and effective.

Yet neither has mentioned the subject in the debates. Instead, they have argued over who is more eager to extract ever-larger quantities of oil, natural gas and coal from beneath our purple mountains’ majesties and fruited plains.

“We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years,” Obama said in Tuesday’s debate. “Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.”

Romney scoffed that Obama “has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal,” and promised that he, if elected, would be all three. “I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses,” he said, adding later that this means “bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it.”

If this is a contest to see who can pretend to be more ignorant of the environmental freight train that’s barreling down the tracks toward us, Romney wins narrowly.

Obama does acknowledge that his administration has invested in alternative energy technologies, such as wind and solar, that do not emit carbon dioxide and thus do not contribute to atmospheric warming. But he never really says why, except to say he will not “cede those jobs of the future” to other nations such as China and Germany.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_chill_on_climate_change_20121021/

Posted in Climate Change, Ecology, Environment, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Why the Chill on Climate Change?

A Report from Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

From Earth Island Journal:  http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_report_from_tar_sands_blockade_in_texas

Behind the scenes with incredible people including Darryl Hannah and Eleanor Fairchild

by Julia Butterfly Hill
October 16, 2012

In January 2012, I, like many other people, thought the Keystone XL pipeline controversy was over. We had won a hard-fought victory in suspending the proposed tar sands pipeline from crossing the border from Canada into the USA. It seemed a major win for the environmental movement.

But shortly after reveling in the victory, I read the words of President Barack Obama (the same man who claimed he wanted to lead America away from dependence on oil) said during a March speech in Cushing, OK. “And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done,” the president said.

To my horror and disappointment, that is exactly what he did. Today TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, has already started construction on the southern leg of the pipeline that will potentially stretch from Montana all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

In this case, “cutting through the red tape” includes allowing eminent domain laws to be used to take land from families, farmers, and Indigenous people in order to push this extremely dangerous pipeline. If completed, the pipeline will be filled with highly corrosive and toxic tar sands oil that will be pumped through the heartland of America and then (some of it, at least) will be exported to other countries.

Some residents in Texas and other allies who have come from all over the country are trying to stop this from happening. Last week I visited the courageous landowners and blockaders in ruralEast Texas who are putting their bodies on the line to slow down and, hopefully, halt the pipeline construction.

I am honored and humbled to be able to share part of their story.

• • •

In April of last year, I went to Dallas, TX and met with one of the landowners, David Daniel and his family, who were facing imminent destruction of their land from TransCanada and standing against the taking of their land through eminent domain abuse.  He shared with me his story — how he and his wife had travelled to many places looking for their perfect place to buy a piece of property where they would care for and steward their little piece of “Heaven on Earth” and raise their child to feel connected to living with the Earth and not just on it.  They found exactly what they were looking for in East Texas.  A property that had beautiful woods, huge, old trees, and spring-fed creeks curving and meandering through 22 acres.  There was one, particularly large, very old tree right next to one of the creeks that had a magic to it, that both David and his wife both felt drawn to so powerfully. It was on that spot that they both knew they had found “their place.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_report_from_tar_sands_blockade_in_texas

Posted in Chemical Pollution, Climate Change, Ecology, Environment, Uncategorized. Comments Off on A Report from Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

Dam Failures and Flooding at US Nuclear Plants

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:   http://allthingsnuclear.org/dam-failures-and-flooding-at-us-nuclear-plants/

,
October 19, 2012

Some 34 nuclear reactors—one-third of the U.S. fleet—could face flooding hazards greater than they were designed to withstand if an upstream dam fails, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff report written in July of last year.

The NRC has known about these risks for at least 15 years and has failed to adequately address them.

The report generated attention a month ago when its lead author, Richard Perkins, accused the NRC of deliberately whiting out passages before releasing the report in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Perkins suggested in a letter to the NRC inspector general that the NRC censored his report because it reveals “the NRC has been in possession of relevant, notable, and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it.”

Nuclear reactors are built adjacent to rivers, lakes and oceans because they require vast quantities of cooling water. Many U.S. nuclear plants that are sited along a river have one or more dams located upstream. If a dam failed, the ensuing flood waters could overwhelm a plant’s protective barriers and disable critical safety equipment, causing an accident that could release a large amount of radiation, just as it did at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in March 2011. In that case, the flooding was caused by a tsunami, not a breached dam, but the result could be similar.

An article today by Tom Zeller in the Huffington Post posted the unredacted July 2011 NRC report. The report shows the risk of a nuclear accident from flooding appears to be greater than previously thought.

Continue reading at:   http://allthingsnuclear.org/dam-failures-and-flooding-at-us-nuclear-plants/

Posted in Climate Change, Ecology, Environment. Comments Off on Dam Failures and Flooding at US Nuclear Plants

Scenes of ‘Dust Bowl Days’ Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

Year of high temps and record drought portends climate future for once fertile croplands

Common Dreams staff
Published on Friday, October 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Dramatic video footage and eye witness accounts from Oklahoma on Thursday tell the story of a scene right out of the Depression-era ‘Dust Bowl days’ as a massive wind-swept cloud of ‘reddish-brown’ dirt made visibility impossible on a stretch of Interstate-35 between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo.

The mid-western states have experienced some of the highest temperatures on record this year and a severe drought has devastated corn crops and turned once thriving fields to brown. Scientists make direct connections between these trends and the growing impact of climate change fueled by human-caused global warming.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jodi Palmer, a dispatcher with the Kay County Sheriff’s Office, told the Associated Press. “In this area alone, the dirt is blowing because we’ve been in a drought. I think from the drought everything’s so dry and the wind is high.”

“You have the perfect combination of extended drought in that area … and we have the extremely strong winds,” said Gary McManus, the Oklahoma associate state climatologist, also speaking with AP.

“Also, the timing is bad because a lot of those farm fields are bare. The soil is so dry, it’s like powder. Basically what you have is a whole bunch of topsoil waiting for the wind to blow it away. It’s no different from the 1930s than it is now.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

Posted in Climate Change, Ecology, Environment, Food. Tags: , . Comments Off on Scenes of ‘Dust Bowl Days’ Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

Climate change fiction melts away just when it’s needed

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/oct/18/climate-change-fiction

It’s the most urgent problem of our era, but novelists appear singularly reluctant to address it

Posted by Thursday 18 October 2012

“Guys, the ice caps are melting now,” wrote Chris Ross in the Guardian Review last year. “Where are those stories?”

The review’s subject was a collection of short stories, I’m With the Bears, all on the issue of climate change. It featured good writing – from the likes of Margaret Atwood and Lydia Millet – but, as Ross put it, “much of this material seems to have been lifted from the wastebasket.” Why was no one writing fresh fiction about it?

One year on, the question still stands. “In spite of the stakes,” said Andrew Simms on the Guardian’s environment blog the other day, “the issue has receded from the political frontline like a wave shrinking down a beach.” It seems that the wave never quite reached our beach – the beach of fiction writing – in the first place.

Sure, there was Solar. Ian McEwan‘s 2010 satire of a balding, overweight scientist with marriage problems explicitly focused on “the most pressing and complex problem of our time”. That’s the one everyone could probably mention. But after that? There was mainly silence (if you leave aside poetry, where much more seems to be going on, most notably, perhaps, Tom Chivers’ ADRIFT project).

There’s apocalyptic fiction, of course, and you could, I suppose, connect a novel such as Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood to climate change. But is this type of literature really concerned with the issue, or does a vaguely related scenario merely serve as a purpose for other themes and situations? (Also, as environmentalists are increasingly keen to point out, climate change isn’t really about the end of the world at all; it’s about living conditions becoming harder and harder as we go along.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/oct/18/climate-change-fiction

Posted in Ecology, Environment, Uncategorized. Tags: , . Comments Off on Climate change fiction melts away just when it’s needed

Clean Coal is a Hoax, Mr. President, So Drop it

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/18-0

by Jeff Biggers
Published on Thursday, October 18, 2012 by Common Dreams

Out of all the meaningless slogans bantered around this election season, President Obama’s clinging to the “clean coal” banner ranks as one of the most specious.

“Clean coal” is a hoax, and the president knows it, and outside of appeasing a few Midwestern Big Coal sycophants and his Duke Energy coal buddy Jim Rogers, who helped to underwrite the Democratic Convention this summer in Charlotte, Obama has little to gain from invoking the offensive phrase.

You’re offensive, President Obama, to use your own words.

Offensive to coal miners and their families who have paid the ultimate price, offensive to people who live daily with the devastating impacts of coal mining and coal ash in their communities and watersheds, and offensive to anyone who recognizes the spiraling reality of climate change.

If Ameren, one of the biggest coal-supporting utility companies in the nation, can throw in the towel on the FutureGen “clean coal” boondoggle in Obama’s adopted state of Illinois, then why can’t our president at least state the truth during his election — or drop the sloganeering?

It’s sad enough to watch the president mock Republican Mitt Romney for his dead-on realization, once upon a time, that coal-fired plants kill.

It’s even sadder, as our nation drifts along in Titanic denial toward climate destabilization, for our president to crow about being a friend of a deadly rock.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/18-0

Posted in Ecology, Environment, Uncategorized. Tags: . Comments Off on Clean Coal is a Hoax, Mr. President, So Drop it

Over Half of All Wetlands on Earth ‘Destroyed’ in Last 100 Years

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/17-4

Common Dreams staff
Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 by Common Dreams

Over half of all wetlands in the world have been destroyed in the last 100 years due to residential and industrial development, water waste, over-consumption, and pollution says a new report released by the United Nations Environment Program.

According to the report, the “startling figure”—a 50 percent loss of wetlands on earth—signals years of neglect of our world’s ecosystems, as industrialization and development have trumped concerns of biodiversity and water scarcity. As a result, coastal wetland losses in many regions have occurred at a rate of 1.6 percent per year.

“Water security is widely regarded as one of the key natural resource challenges currently facing the world,” the authors of the report state. “Human drivers of ecosystem change, including destructive extractive industries, unsustainable agriculture and poorly managed urban expansion, are posing a threat to global freshwater biodiversity and water security for 80 per cent of the world’s population.”

The report was compiled through The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project and presented at this year’s UN Convention on Biodiversity.

Reporting on this year’s convention, being held through the end of this week in India, Friends of the Earth International pleaded with the international community to put forth biodiversity protection policies such as vast conservation proposals and increased governmental regulation of resource extraction, as apposed to the business-based free market model known as the ‘Financialization of Nature,’ which has largely dominated the convention. Such policies promote market-based schemes like pollution trading, water markets, and privatization and commodification of common resources, frowned upon by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Food and Water Watch.

Complete article at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/17-4

Posted in Ecology, Environment. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Over Half of All Wetlands on Earth ‘Destroyed’ in Last 100 Years