February 2011

An Answer for Bill February 1, 2011 : 11:43 AM

Last week on his show Bill O’Reilly asked, “Why has southern New York turned into the tundra?” and then said he had a call into me. I appreciate the question.

As it turns out, the scientific community has been addressing this particular question for some time now and they say that increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming:

“In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow.”

“A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.”


New Mexico Governor Reversed February 3, 2011 : 5:37 PM

A few weeks ago I wrote about New Mexico’s new governor rolling back successful climate legislation. Thankfully those decisions have been reversed by the state Supreme Court:

“You may have seen in our recent blog post that New Mexico’s governor was blocking a new state rule to limit global warming pollution. Well, here’s some good news: This week, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the rule will go on the books.”

“This means that New Mexico will require major polluters to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 3% each year, starting in 2013. And we hope this will encourage businesses to tap into New Mexico’s enormous potential for renewable energy. For example, New Mexico has some of the best potential for solar energy in the world.”


Keith Olbermann to Host Major New Nightly Primetime News and Commentary Show on Current TV February 8, 2011 : 11:05 AM

From Current TV:

"Keith Olbermann, the acclaimed broadcaster and writer whose verbal pyrotechnics and moral passion have outraged, informed, and dazzled viewers of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" for the past eight years, is bringing his slashing wit, analytical eye, and distinctive commentary to Current Media, the Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning TV and digital media company that was founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and is now distributed in more than 75 million households around the world. The news was announced today in New York."

"In addition to executive producing and hosting a new nightly primetime news and commentary show, Keith Olbermann will also serve as the company's Chief News Officer and will have an equity stake in Current Media."

"The new show will air weeknights in primetime beginning later in 2011."

"Keith Olbermann's show will lead a programming slate on Current that includes original and acquired TV series aimed at a broad adult audience. Current features compelling stories about everyday heroes and ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and takes you to sometimes dangerous and always intriguing places. Current shines a light on controversial subjects, tackling hot issues of the day in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way. Current engages its viewers by sparking debate and discussion, and via interactive formats that allow viewers to inform its stories."


Clean, Renewable Energy is a Bipartisan Issue February 16, 2011 : 10:48 AM

A new poll from Gallup shows the American people are ready for action. It’s time Congress catch up and recognize, solving the climate crisis by generating clean, renewable energy is a bipartisan issue:

“A Gallup poll released last week listed eight actions Congress could take this year and asked respondents to say whether they favored or opposed them. Of all eight possible congressional priorities listed in the poll, the most popular was: “pass an energy bill that provides incentives for using solar and other alternative energy sources.”

“And according to Gallup, “of the eight proposals, the alternative energy bill and tax code overhaul ideas show the greatest bipartisan agreement, with 74% or more of each party group favoring these.”

“You can see the partisan breakdown for each of the eight policies here:”


In Some Areas Wind Power Is Now Competitive With Coal February 18, 2011 : 2:58 PM

Hopefully this trend will continue:

"More good news on the renewable energy front Monday: The cost of onshore wind power has dropped to record lows, and in some regions is competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm."

"'The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power,' Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's chief executive, said in a statement."


Montana Rep Attempts to Codify Climate Denial February 25, 2011 : 7:07 PM

State Representative Joe Read is attempting to write climate denial into state law. Here is the text of the bill he introduced:

"A bill for an Act entitled: "An Act Stating Montana's Position on Global Warming""

"Section 1. Public policy concerning global warming. 
(1) The legislature finds that to ensure economic development in Montana and the appropriate management of Montana's natural resources it is necessary to adopt a public policy regarding global warming.
(2) The legislature finds:
(a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana;
(b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment; and
(c) global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it." [Huffington Post]

Unfortunately Representative Read cannot overturn the laws of nature. According to the state’s official website:

“Climate change will affect all of Montana's major economic sectors: agriculture, forestry, transportation and tourism, and energy supply. We may be challenged with decreased crop yields, longer forest fire seasons, reduced snowpack, and declining hydropower. The environmental costs may include reduced wildlife habitat and diminished water quality and stream flow. It is imperative that we all begin to do what we can to address this crucial issue for our own sake and the sake of the generations of Montanans to come.”


Two Important Papers February 26, 2011 : 4:15 PM

Joe Romm at Climate Progress reported on two important new papers from the journal Nature that join the "growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment.”

According to Joe:

“Scientists have predicted for decades that human-caused global warming would increased extreme weather events that cause severe harm to humans, property, and the environment. These two studies are but the latest in a growing body of scientific literature demonstrating that these predictions are coming true now.”

“They should help lay to rest the myth that human-caused global warming will contribute to grievous harm only in some far-off future. They also strongly support the view that the human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the devastating extreme events that hit Australia and other parts of the world in the past several months, helping to drive up food prices.”

Read more at Climate Progress.


The Triple Cost of Coal February 28, 2011 : 4:17 PM

The price you pay for coal power is not just the number you see on your electric bill. According to new study:

“The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.”

“Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found.”

"This is not borne by the coal industry, this is borne by us, in our taxes," said Paul Epstein, a Harvard Medical School instructor and the associate director of its Center for Health and the Global Environment, the study's lead author.

"The public cost is far greater than the cost of the coal itself. The impacts of this industry go way beyond just lighting our lights."