August 2012

Moral Outrage August 1, 2012 : 10:01 PM

I’ve long suggested the climate crisis is not really a political question (though the solutions will involve political choices), but a moral one. David Roberts at Grist explains why we must focus on the moral elements of the climate crisis:

“Perhaps the single biggest barrier to action on climate change is the fact that it doesn’t hit us in the gut. We can identify it as a great moral wrong, through a chain of evidence and reasoning, but we do not instinctively feel it as one. It does not trigger our primal moral intuitions or generate spontaneous outrage, anger, and passion. It’s got no emotional heat. (Ironic!)”


At Least 70% Human Made August 2, 2012 : 6:05 PM

A new study suggests the decline of sea ice in the Arctic is at least 70% caused by “human-induced climate change:”

“The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70% due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% down to humans – rather higher than scientists had previously thought.”

“The loss of ice around the Arctic has adverse effects on wildlife and also opens up new northern sea routes and opportunities to drill for oil and gas under the newly accessible sea bed.”

Source: The Guardian


Climate and Drought August 3, 2012 : 6:03 PM

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog puts together a guide on climate change and drought:

“As farmers in the United States slog through the country’s largest drought in 50 years, a lot of people are asking about the connection between global warming and the arid landscape in the Midwest. Is climate change causing this drought? Didn’t the United States suffer worse droughts in the past? And what will happen if the planet keeps heating up?”

“Those aren’t simple questions. So here’s a guide to what we know about the link between climate change and drought.”


Over Half the US in Disaster Areas August 7, 2012 : 2:06 PM

More than half of US counties are now 'disaster' areas due to this summer's stifling heat and drought:

“Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government's list of natural disaster areas as the nation's agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture's addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties — 1,584 in 32 states — have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that's considered the worst in decades.”

Source: AP


Worse Than We Thought August 8, 2012 : 5:55 PM

NASA scientist James Hansen, one of the world's leading experts on the climate crisis, writes in the Washington Post:

“When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.”

“But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.”

“My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.”

“In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.”

“This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”


Warmest month ever August 9, 2012 : 2:46 PM

Yet another record falls this summer: July was the hottest month ever recorded in US history.


A "Conspiracy of Silence" August 10, 2012 : 1:42 PM

An important piece from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

“In a summer dominated by heat waves and a devastating nationwide drought, it would seem that climate change would be a major issue in the US presidential campaign. However, quite the opposite is happening. Neither President Barack Obama nor the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has focused any attention on this critical issue. In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Senator John Kerry characterized the political discourse in the United States as a "conspiracy of silence … a story of disgraceful denial, back-pedaling, and delay that has brought us perilously close to a climate change catastrophe." This silence means that we can expect further delays in addressing climate change, delays that we cannot afford.”

Read the entire piece by clicking here.


Meet Paul Ryan August 13, 2012 : 7:12 PM

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s new running mate, has a history of anti-climate science statements and votes, according to Brad Johnson: [Source: Climate Progress]

“Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, is a virulent denier of climate science, with a voting record to match.”

“A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming.”

“Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E).”

He has also said there is “growing disagreement among scientists about climate change and its causes.” [Source: Real Clear Politics]

In addition to his opposition to meaningful action to reduce global warming pollution, Paul Ryan’s budget called for “drastic cuts in federal spending on energy research and development and for the outright elimination of subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar power and other alternative energy technologies.” [Source: New York Times Green Blog]

Solving the climate crisis requires political leadership that recognizes the serious reality of global warming and fights for policies that move us toward a clean energy economy, not backward.


Win the Conversation August 14, 2012 : 6:50 PM

Today’s media environment is a challenging one. Between blogs, social media, 24-hour cable news and endless propaganda campaigns from political organizations, making your message stand out is difficult. In his fascinating new book, Language Intelligence, Joe Romm from Climate Progress lays out the keys to persuasive writing, and speaking.

“In the hands of its greatest practitioners, rhetoric has changed the world. As John F. Kennedy said of Churchill, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle” to see England through to victory in World War II. In a famous 1858 speech, Lincoln paraphrased Jesus, saying “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and he extended the house metaphor throughout the speech. His law partner, William Herndon, later wrote that Lincoln had told him he wanted to use “some universally known figure [of speech] expressed in simple language … that may strike home to the minds of men in order to raise them up to the peril of the times.”

“Rhetoric is the art of being pithy and profound. In this world of information overload, you have to capture people’s attention. In this media menagerie, you have to stand out like a peacock. So this book will help you “wow” people with words – grab them with the most eye-popping headlines, the catchiest catch-phrases, and the sweetest tweets.”

“Once people are paying attention, the goal is to win them over through what I call “language intelligence.” It is the ability to convince people of something by moving them both intellectually and emotionally, at both a conscious and unconscious level.”

Buy it here: Paper Back, Kindle Edition


Give 'Em Hell Harry August 17, 2012 : 12:24 PM

At an energy conference in Las Vegas, Senator Harry Reid warned about the stark reality of the climate crisis:

“A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.”

“These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality.”

“It’s time for us all – whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives – to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don’t.”

“Virtually every respected, independent scientist in the world agrees the problem is real, and the time to act is now. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. Not next month or next year. We must act today.”

Source: Climate Progress


16 Million Acres August 17, 2012 : 10:19 PM

The military continues to lead the way, opening up 16 million acres to renewable energy development:

“The U.S. Department of Defense plans to open up 16 million acres of its land for renewable energy development, which it hopes will create a boom of solar, wind and geothermal projects and provide clean power to military bases, the department announced Monday.”

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on promoting renewable energy generation projects on public land that has historically been restricted for military uses. About 13 million of those 16 million acres are located in western U.S., where a lot of solar, wind and geothermal power development already has been taking place on private and other types of public land.”

Source: Forbes


Record Melting August 20, 2012 : 3:27 PM

The Arctic is melting at a record pace:

“The melting season is now fully under way in the high Arctic. Months of relatively warm temperatures and nearly continuous sunshine have taken their toll on the ice that blankets the Arctic Ocean. By mid-September, the sea ice will reach its low point for the year, before starting its annual re-freeze. All of this is normal, but the conditions scientists are seeing this year are anything but normal. “Right now,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in an interview, “we’re on a record pace for ice loss. If the melt stopped today, we’d have the fourth lowest ice coverage on record.”

Source: Climate Central


Climate Bankruptcy August 21, 2012 : 4:42 PM

A great post at Climate Progress comparing the climate crisis with the financial crisis:

“Just as unsustainable debts and freewheeling lending practices reduced the resilience of personal and national financial systems, so our mounting climate debt is warming the earth and reducing the resilience of our food, water and social systems. Much like an overdrawn bank account, we are rapidly depleting the carbon storehouses of our forests, and the deposits of coal and fossil fuels underground. By releasing all this carbon dioxide into the air, we are tipping the atmosphere’s balance sheets into the red — too much carbon in the atmosphere for our forests and oceans to absorb it all. The more CO2 we pump into the atmosphere, the further in debt we go, and the more sacrifice we’ll need to make to balance our carbon budget in the future.”


Incomplete Coverage August 22, 2012 : 4:01 PM

A Media Matters study shows coverage of this summer’s heat wave failed to mention the influence of the climate crisis:

“Scientists say that human-induced climate change made this year's record heat more likely, and project that extreme heat will become more common in the United States. But a Media Matters analysis of media coverage of record-breaking heat in July finds that major television outlets rarely made the connection between heat waves and a changing climate."

"In a study of major media outlets, only 8.7% of television segments and 25.5% of print articles reported on record-breaking July heat waves in the context of climate change.”


Hottest Rain in History August 23, 2012 : 5:24 PM

Another example of the summer's extreme weather:

“With much of the U.S. continuing to suffer under the worst drought conditions in half-a-century, any rainy weather system at all might seem a refreshing sight -- but evidently, sometimes a T-storm can feel a lot like a tea-storm.”

“According to Weather Underground, the city of Needles, California, recently experienced what is believed to be the hottest rainfall on record. On Monday, not long after hitting a daytime high of 118°F (the hottest it's ever been there, by the way), a thunderstorm rolled through, dropping precipitation over the Mojave Desert town that reached a scorching 115°F.”



Arctic Ice at All-Time Low August 27, 2012 : 7:37 AM

As reported at Real Climate, Arctic sea ice cover is at an all-time record low. This daily record - set almost one month ahead of the typical minimum low each year - is an important alarm bell.


Convention Coverage on Current August 28, 2012 : 3:16 PM

Be sure to tune into Current TV for our innovative coverage of the Republican and Democratic Conventions where we will merge our on air analysis live with a Twitter conversation taking place right on your screen.

I’ll lead the Current team in New York and be joined by Jennifer Granholm, Eliot Spitzer, Cenk Uygur and the Young Turks and many others. Our coverage will begin every night at 7 pm Eastern.


Closing the Mississippi August 30, 2012 : 12:08 PM

Low water levels close the Mississippi:

“Nearly 100 boats and barges were waiting for passage Monday along an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed due to low water levels, the U.S. Coast Guard said.”

“New Orleans-based Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets said the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.”

Source: AP


A New Tool August 31, 2012 : 6:09 PM

Investors can now know the emissions of more than forty thousand publically listed companies:

“A new financial tool developed by the investment firm South Pole Carbon, in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, provides greenhouse gas emissions profiles of more than 40,000 publicly listed companies. This index is aimed at encouraging greater disclosure from companies while, hopefully, also pushing investors to build more responsible portfolios.”

“Investors have long been aware that the greenhouse gas profile, especially of major emitters like electric utilities, is a potential liability,” said Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser on energy issues at the Bipartisan Policy Center.”

Source: New York Times Green Blog