June 2011

Solar Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels? June 1, 2011 : 5:30 PM

GE thinks it's a possibility:

“Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. (GE).”

“If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I’m hopeful that we will do, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home,” Little said yesterday in an interview in Bloomberg’s Washington office. The 2009 average U.S. retail rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity ranges from 6.1 cents in Wyoming to 18.1 cents in Connecticut, according to Energy Information Administration data released in April.”

Link

Some Bipartisanship June 2, 2011 : 5:00 PM

While bipartisanship is a rare commodity, some lawmakers are joining together to promote electric cars:

“A bill sponsored by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander would offer $3 billion over five years to help build infrastructure and promote the use of electric vehicles.”

“Components of this legislation, which is co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, could underpin a broader energy package, Zichal said when asked about the bill.”

Link

Another Republican Governor Takes a Step Backwards June 6, 2011 : 4:48 PM

Chris Christie does not deny the climate crisis, but he is backing out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a cap and trade compact. This decision marks yet another instance of a Republican Governor moving backwards in the fight to solve the climate crisis:

"While we respect every governor's prerogative to make policy decisions, this is a disappointing step given New Jersey's legacy of leadership on environmental issues," said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. "Reducing harmful air pollution protects our health and provides opportunities for local investments in clean energy technologies.

Link

An Unacceptable Imbalance June 7, 2011 : 5:21 PM

Media Matters has a new report out revealing a startling imbalance:

"Media Matters analyzed television news guests who discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from December 2009 through April 2011. Driven largely by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, results show that 76 percent of those guests were opposed to EPA regulations while 18 percent were in favor. Of the appearances by elected officials, 86 percent were Republican. Only one guest in 17 months of coverage across nine news outlets was a climate scientist -- industry-funded Patrick Michaels."

Read the full report by clicking here.

Link

Fascinating article in the New York Times June 8, 2011 : 12:58 PM

I couldn't put this piece down, "A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself:"

"Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories -- wheat, rice, corn and soybeans -- has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007, with some grains more than doubling in cost."

"Those price jumps, though felt only moderately in the West, have worsened hunger for tens of millions of poor people, destabilizing politics in scores of countries, from Mexico to Uzbekistan to Yemen. The Haitian government was ousted in 2008 amid food riots, and anger over high prices has played a role in the recent Arab uprisings."

"Now, the latest scientific research suggests that a previously discounted factor is helping to destabilize the food system:climate change."

"Many of the failed harvests of the past decade were a consequence of weather disasters, like floods in the United States, drought in Australia and blistering heat waves in Europe and Russia. Scientists believe some, though not all, of those events were caused or worsened by human-induced global warming."

"Temperatures are rising rapidly during the growing season in some of the most important agricultural countries, and a paper published several weeks ago found that this had shaved several percentage points off potential yields, adding to the price gyrations."

Link

Developing Countries are Leading the Way June 9, 2011 : 3:07 PM

Oxfam has just issued a new report showing developing countries are leading the way, pledging to cut more greenhouse gas emissions than developed nations: ]

“The new analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), commissioned as part of Oxfam's new global GROW campaign, compares four of the most widely respected studies of these pledges. All the studies show that developing countries have pledged to make bigger cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions than industrialized countries, compared to a business as usual scenario.”

Additionally:

“New figures from the forthcoming SEI overview of the pledges show that:"

"- China’s total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020."

"- The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020."

"- The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil -- the BASIC countries -- could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries -- the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020."

Link

Rise in Emissions June 10, 2011 : 12:58 PM

Greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise again:

“In 2008 and 2009, the world was in the grips of a brutal recession and there wasn't much to be cheerful about. There was, however, one tiny consolation: Greenhouse gas emissions were plummeting, thanks to reduced energy use, and it looked like all those worries about global warming could be put on hold for a bit — or at least temporarily postponed. But the reprieve turned out to be more temporary than expected. The International Energy Agency has just released new data showing that carbon dioxide emissions shot way back up in 2010, thanks to rapid growth in developing countries.”

Source: Washington Post – Ezra Klein

Link

The Coal Industry Opposes Mine Safety Rules June 13, 2011 : 1:53 PM

After the disaster that killed 29 miners last year, the industry should be cleaning up its practices, not opposing new safety regulations:

“The West Virginia Coal Association and Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the third-largest U.S. coal producer, urged the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to drop a proposal that would require mine operators to conduct more extensive safety examinations. Mine safety officials with the states of West Virginia and Illinois also told MSHA to drop the idea.”

“Only the United Mine Workers labor union testified in favor of both measures, which were developed after the April 5, 2010, explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia.”

Source: Associated Press

Link

Good for Mitt Romney -- though we've long passed the point where weak lip-service is enough on the Climate Crisis June 15, 2011 : 12:49 PM

While other Republicans are running from the truth, he is sticking to his guns in the face of the anti-science wing of the Republican Party:

“It seemed like a straightforward question on a second-tier issue: Would Mitt Romney disavow the science behind global warming?”

“The putative Republican presidential front-runner, eager to prove his conservative bona fides, could easily have said what he knew many in his party's base wanted to hear.”

“Instead, the former Massachusetts governor stuck to the position he has held for many years -- that he believes the world is getting warmer and that humans are contributing to it.”

Source: Washington Post

Link

Heat vs. Cold Records June 17, 2011 : 1:46 PM

Joe Romm points to a troubling trend:

“As a taste of things to come, much of the United States has just been hit by a monsterheat wave. Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate analyzed the data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and found, “U.S. heat records in the first 9 days of June have outnumbered cold records by an eye-popping ratio of 13 to 1″ — 1609 to 124.”

Link

New Essay in The Rolling Stone June 22, 2011 : 8:00 AM

Today, Rolling Stone has just published a new essay that I wrote about climate and media entitled, "Climate of Denial." I hope that you'll take the time to read it.

Link

New Book About John Moss-father of the Freedom of Information Act June 23, 2011 : 6:50 PM

A new book People's Warrior: John Moss and the Fight for Freedom of Information and Consumer Rights has just been published. Lovingly prepared by his former chief counsel, Michael Lemov, this work tells the amazing story of one man's determination to make government information accessible to the public. He has an amazing record of public service, from his work on the Consumer Product Safety Act to the Securities Investor Protection Act and so much more.

It's almost unthinkable now, but before John Moss, average citizens and the media did not have the right to see government information. People's Warrior shines a light on an amazing life of public service.

Link

Ice and Snow Disappearing from Mt. Rainier June 26, 2011 : 2:57 PM

The effects of the climate crisis are hitting closer and closer to home:

"About 14 percent of the ice and permanent snow atop Washington state's Mount Rainier melted in the past four decades, a new study suggests. Researchers arrived at that figure by comparing the estimated thickness and extent of ice seen in a 1970 aerial survey with those measured in 2007 and 2008. All but two of the 28 glaciers and snowfields on the mountain have thinned and shortened at their lower edges, and the exceptions probably thickened only because large amounts of rock fell upon the ice in recent years and insulated it from warming temperatures."

Source: Washington Post

Link

Sea Level Rising June 30, 2011 : 2:35 PM

Evidence of the damage the climate crisis is causing continues to mount:

“The sea-level is now rising faster along the U.S. Atlantic coast than at any time in the past 2,100 years, and this surge is linked to increasing global temperatures, an international research team reports.”

"Sea-level rise is a potentially disastrous outcome of climate change, as rising temperatures melt land-based ice and warm ocean waters," said study co-author Benjamin Horton of the University of Pennsylvania. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Source: USA Today

Link