Archive for July 2010
Some will say this study is just a wild assumption – that you can’t untangle ‘normal’ droughts from impacts of climate change. First remember climate change is a force multiplier: it makes droughts and floods far worse than normal. And secondly it is pretty obvious that if temps climb much higher in most parts of Mexico there will be major crop failures and then what are people supposed to do? Lay down and die? They are going to move — wouldn’t you? – Stephen
From Sci Am magazine:
A reduction in crop yields could spur even more migration from south to north, a new analysis finds
By David Biello
Climate change’s impacts on crop yields may force as many as seven million Mexicans to emigrate to the U.S. over the next 70 years, according to research published July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study is among the first to attempt to put hard numbers on questions about “environmental refugees” that may be caused by climate change.
“There is a significant response of emigration from Mexico to past climate variations,” says atmospheric scientist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, an author of the study. “Climate changes predicted by the global circulation models would cause several percent of the Mexican population to move north [if] all other factors are held constant.”
Yet another study that confirms the urgent need to switch to cleaner energy sources for health reasons. Here we have unborn children affected by the air pollution their mothers breathe. Burning fossil fuels releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which we all breathe in but these chemicals affect the mental development of unborn children. Other new studies show smog causes increases in heart attacks, and reduces blood’s ability to transport oxygen.
So why the high-profile fight over climate change and urgent need to reduce fossil fuel use? Might it happen that fossil energy companies desperate to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of proﬁts, actively encourage (if not directly fund) confusion regarding the inconvenient scientiﬁc results on climate and public health? — Stephen
April 2010 — A study by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) carried out in Krakow, Poland has found that prenatal exposure to pollutants can adversely affect children’s cognitive development at age 5, confirming previous findings in a New York City (NYC) study.
Researchers report that children exposed to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Krakow had a significant reduction in scores on a standardized test of reasoning ability and intelligence at age 5. The study findings are published today online in Environmental Health Perspectives. Read the rest of this entry »
Is this why there is no independent assessment of the BP oil well cap and surrounding sea floor?
Three of every four oil and gas lobbyists worked for federal government that’s probably why oil spill liability was capped at a ridiculous $50 million - an amount that wouldn’t cover the cost of a couple of oil spill skimmers.
Three out of every four lobbyists who represent oil and gas companies previously worked in the federal government, a proportion that far exceeds the usual revolving-door standards on Capitol Hill, a Washington Post analysis shows.
Key lobbying hires include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. For other senior management positions, the industry employs two former directors of the Minerals Management Service, the since-renamed agency that regulates the industry, and several top officials from the Bush White House. Federal inspectors once assigned to monitor oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico have landed jobs with the companies they regulated.
Surprise, surprise BP threw even more money — +$1.7 million April to June -- at its lobbyists. And it works. Money unfortunately does buy influence in DC otherwise why aren’t US govt and/or independent science submersibles on the scene of the spill to verify BPs claims??
How could any level of government take the word a polluter that everything is cleaned up without bothering to CHECK to see if it is?
Even worse in my opinion: Why isn’t the media screaming for independent assessment of the leaking well head and surrounding area? (Twenty years ago they would have.)
My original related articles:
By Stephen Leahy*
Costs of nuclear skyrocket while costs of renewables falling quickly say energy experts
BERLIN, Jul 31, 2009 (IPS)
Why is nuclear energy back on the table?
One reason is a powerful U.S. lobby where 14 energy companies spent 48 million dollars in 2007 alone to convince American politicians to give the industry huge loan guarantees because they cannot get financing anywhere else, says Ellen Vancko, a nuclear energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based non governmental organisation (NGO).
This lavish lobbying effort by the energy and nuclear power sector has been ongoing since the mid-1990s, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a U.S. NGO and now totals at least 953 million dollars.
Even more has been spent to convince the public that nuclear is one of the keys to energy security so that there is significant public support for new reactors, a Gallup Environment Poll reported this year.
“There are lots of senators and members of congress talking about nuclear as a clean, renewable energy resource,” Vancko says.
The other reason is the French. Read the rest of this entry »
On July 17th Berliners and other Europeans will take to the streets to stop the worst environmental disaster on the planet:
Canada’s “Dirty Oil” Tar Sands
“The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet’s greatest threats” – James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies
“Extracting oil from Alberta’s tar sands jeopardizes the survival of our species” — Al Gore
Warning of the global environmental disaster represented by Canada’s production of oil from its western tar sands, protesters will gather in front of the Canadian Embassies in Berlin, London and Copenhagen on Saturday, July 17 to mark International Stop the Tar Sands Day.
The goal of International Stop the Tar Sands Day is to raise awareness in Europe that oil made from Canada’s tar sands has “two-to-three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil,” according to eminent scientist James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon-reduction tools on the planet: Canada’s Boreal Forest.”
Similar protests are planned at Canadian embassies in London, Paris and Vienna.
“Ultimately only Canadian people can stop the expansion of the tar sands. Through our demonstrations we want to show Canadians there is international support for a moratorium,” says first-time organizer Derek Leahy, a Canadian living in Berlin.
“Although European companies and banks are profiting from Canada’s tar sands few Europeans have heard about the tar sands. We intend to change that ,” he said
[Full disclosure: this is copied from a press release and Derek is my son -- Steve] Read the rest of this entry »
Copenhagen has a fantastic bike culture — 60+ % commute to work every day plus they have a great subway system too. It is cold and wet a lot of the year but people dress for it and were frankly a hell of lot warmer than I was walking when I was there for three weeks in December while covering the climate summit.
One Saturday morning before Christmas I was amazed to see a family of four on two bikes with their groceries and a 2-metre Christmas tree happily pedaling for home . In North America we think we need a van or at least a pick up truck
Sadly I didn’t get a chance to ride in Copenhagen but this should be a model for other cities around the world. Copenhagen did it in 40 years and it is truly amazing. — Steve
US enviro group is putting up billboards in four U.S. cities urging Americans to exclude Alberta from their travel plans, saying it is “one of the world’s dirtiest destinations”.
Let’s be clear here: I am not a supporter of this use of a big “economic” club to hit govt over the head to get their attention. It will hurt many Albertans who are in the tourist biz where many likely support a moratorium on new tar sands development. Indeed most Albertans have said they want a “time out” in the tar sands. But big oil says no way and are pushing for faster approvals of new projects with “streamlined environmental reviews” of course.
In their Re-Think Alberta Campaign enviro groups say they are trying to counter Alberta and Canadian government propaganda. Canada is lobbying the US to prevent any cleaner-fuel regulations because the tar sands has the world’s highest CO2 levels and is the most destructive form of oil production. Yes worse, than off shore drilling – see here for more
“And they are also down here lobbying for infrastructure, new pipelines, refineries, which would keep us addicted to high-carbon oil for another 50 years.” Corporate Ethics International Executive Director Michael Marx told Reuters.
1.3 million barrels of dirty oil is shipped from tar sands region to the US every day
Corporate Ethics also has a powerful video about the ongoing environmental mess that can easily be seen from space it is so big.
See also International Stop the Tar Sands Day commencing July 17 (more on this later).
You can learn more on enviro impacts of the tar sands in my short ebook:
And from my recent articles:
– Green wishes, Steve
Stephen Leahy interviews science historian NAOMI ORESKES
PARIS, Mar 24, 2010 (IPS)
Even though 2009 was the fifth warmest year since 1850, and 2000-09 the warmest decade ever, according to the World Meterological Organisation, surveys show that public concern about global warming in the United States and Canada has dropped sharply in the past 18 months.
Why? Because of a relentless disinformation effort from an unlikely cabal of fossil fuel interests, Christian evangelicals and the media, says Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego.
“They have managed to reopen the debate over global warming in people’s minds,” she told IPS.
Oreskes and co-author Erik Conway, a science historian at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, document similar efforts to manufacture doubt around the science on acid rain, the ozone hole, secondhand cigarette smoke, and the pesticide DDT in their just published book, “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming”. [Tons of excellent reviews -- the "eye-opener of the year" says one reviewer.]
In 2004, Oreskes was vilified on TV, radio and in print by commentators for providing clear evidence there was in fact a scientific consensus on global climate change. Her essay in the journal Science examined all of the peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate over the previous 10 years and found none dissented with the theories that climate change was occurring and it was caused by humans. Her survey has never been successfully challenged, despite many attempts.
Q: Where is the vehement opposition to the very idea that we need to do something about climate change?
A: Some of it is ideological, part of a long history in the United States that equates environmental regulation as going down the slippery slope to socialism. And some is religious. Christian evangelicals don’t like science in general and have found common cause with the coal industry as a way to be able to teach creationism. Obviously, the motivation of the coal industry is rather different but now these people have come together to undermine science in general.
“No maple leaf is big enough to hide the shame of Canada’s summit of broken promises” — Oxfam
Canada spent $1.2 billion hosting G8/G20 Summits
By Stephen Leahy
BERLIN, Jun 26, 2010 (IPS)
The G8 bloc of wealthy nations promised five billion dollars Saturday for health and nutrition programmes that benefit women and children in developing countries.
The five-year Muskoka initiative announced at the annual G8 meeting, this year outside of Toronto, is intended to help prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women and babies who currently die during childbirth each year. Nearly eight million children, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, die before they reach the age of five.
Flavia Bustreo, director of the Geneva-based Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which represents more than 300 global and national organisations, welcomed the world’s richest countries’ focus on maternal and child health, which is a historical first, she said.
However, she told IPS from Geneva, “The glass is half-full when it comes to their financial commitment.”
Oxfam and other NGOs also charge that G8 donor nations have been playing a shell game – making multi-billion-dollar commitments at such meetings but without increasing their overall spending on overseas development aid.
“No maple leaf is big enough to hide the shame of Canada’s summit of broken promises,” said Mark Fried, spokesperson for Oxfam. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Leahy*
MONTPELLIER, France, Apr 7, 2010 (Tierramérica)
Billions of dollars are being mobilised to protect and increase the world’s forests under a climate protection mechanism known as REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). But many experts are unsure that it will work, and some fear it could end in disaster.
According to Anne Larson, who works in Nicaragua as an associate at the Indonesia-based Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), “REDD presents lots of risks.”
“Most countries are simply not ready. They do not have policies to protect the rights of local and indigenous peoples, to determine land tenure or even work out who owns the ‘carbon rights’ to a forest,” Larson told participants at an international conference on smallholder and community forestry in Montpellier, France, in late March.
Under the REDD initiative, richer countries would pay to maintain forests in tropical regions to offset their own carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide from human activities is one of the main gases that produce the greenhouse effect.
The wealthy countries would be granted “carbon credits” towards achieving their carbon reduction commitments to combat climate change. Read the rest of this entry »