Archive for February, 2012

The short-term effect of the melting arctic sea ice is that North America and parts of Europe will be getting more snow, according to a recent study.

The problem, of course, is that such a study flies in the face of our current season, where most of the Northeast has seen no snow and temperatures that are much warmer than usual. Blooms are coming open as nature thinks it’s 4 or 5 weeks later than it actually is. The trees think it’s early April instead of late February.

And so, what should be made of the study? Well, it is widely assumed that in many areas of the globe it will get colder (over the next 30 years) as climate change takes hold. Climate change is all about extremes and a colder winter is part of that. How then, do we explain the warm weather of this year? Well, it’s just weather. Keep your eye trained to the long-term extremes and the climate oddities. Snow in Rome? Yup, that’s this year. Snow in October in the Northeast? Yup, this year. A warm winter? Ah, just more of the normally unusual stuff.

Not a lot happening this weekend.

The Gulf spill trial is delayed a week (Washington Post).

Economic troubles in the EU have hurts its green efforts (NY Times).

States are unprepared for the shale energy boom (USA Today).

 

A massive lawsuit against BP gets underway next week (LA Times), but settlement talks are progressing (NY Times).

President Obama defends his energy policies (Washington Post).

The natural gas/environmentalist alliance fractures (Washington Post).

Canada seeks a second tar sands oil pipeline (LA Times).

Merely a mild drought may have felled the Mayan civilization (BBC).

The EU’s airline rules won’t face a legal challenge, for now (BBC).

Donald Trump argues against Scottish wind farms (BBC).

The US and Mexico reach a Gulf oil deal (BBC).

A U.S. scientist recently uncovered detailed plans by a group of climate change deniers at the Heartland Institute. The plans showed how the Institute would try to block climate change science from being taught in schools. Interesting, eh?

Unfortunately that story quickly shifted into “how” the scientist gained the information. He used a false name to gain the information. It’s not quite the level of subterfuge that the hackers used to uncover Climategate, which purported to show climate change scientists manipulating data but was later proven false.

So, why the double standard from the Climategate scandal? In that case, the information found was more damaging to climate change scientists and the methods the deniers used to illegally find the information was overlooked?

It’s not that the media favors the deniers more (although they sometimes get 50/50 treatment when it’s actually a 99/1 ratio). It’s that the information uncovered the climate change scientist about Heartland Institute isn’t that shocking. They’re trying to stop climate change from being taught – sure, it’s nuts, but it’s not surprising. It’s not as surprising as the information found in Climategate would’ve been had it been proven true.

Instead, the U.S. scientist, Peter Gleick, cost himself a job he was in line for in which he would’ve been advocating for teaching climate change in the classroom. His lapse in judgment, which stemmed from understandable frustration, will keep him from contributing positively in the fight for climate change. Considering the information he uncovered, it wasn’t worth the fight.

 

Iran halts oil sales to France and Britain (BBC). Meanwhile, gas prices are on track to reach $4.25/ gallon by April (Washington Post), which could be a potent campaign weapon (NY Times).

Shell moves closer to new Arctic drilling (NY Times).

Energy transmission will continue to be a major issue (NY Times).

Tiny atmospheric particles may be more harmful than originally thought (NY Times).

Fracking divides New York landowners (LA Times).

CO2 is a problem for marine ecosystems (BBC).

Britain shouldn’t lose its advantage in wave and tidal power, a committee says (BBC).

 

Leaked documents shine some light on a climate-change denying group (NY Times).

The Sierra Club is under fire for donations from natural gas interests (NY Times).

Mardi Gras beads are a missed recycling opportunity (LA Times).

Our foreign oil dependence is still substantial (Washington Post).

The EPA budget is slated for a cut (Washington Post).

Britain is facing its worst drought since the 70s (BBC).

There are three fantastic public spaces in Boston: There’s the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which is less than a decade old, but is growing in well and in very good condition. The second space is the enormous Emerald Necklace, which spans the entire city, reaching some underprivileged districts. It includes some gems such as the Boston Common, Jamaica Pond, some rose gardens, and the Comm Ave Mall. A lot of the necklace has fallen into disrepair and it is in desperate need of a makeover. The final space is the Charles River Esplanade.

Among the three public spaces, I’d rank the Esplanade behind the Emerald Necklace as the second most in need of repair, which is why I was surprised to see the Esplanade 2020 vision unveiled last week. After looking at the plans the committee has for the area running along the Charles River from the edge of Cambridge to Allston, however, I am now fully on board – even if there are more pressing needs.

While the idea of a Ferris Wheel near the Museum of Science garnered all the headlines, there was a lot more in the plan. It included scaling back parts of Storrow Drive, eliminating the Bowker Overpass, which runs from Storrow Drive to the Kenmore Square area and has become not only an eyesore, but a dangerous road to drive. It also included developing grander entryways from the city to the Esplanade (including a grand entrance near Dartmouth Street). Plans also call for the opening of a cafe, the reopening of a pool, renovations at the Hatch Shell, reclaiming some more land near the river (by narrowing Storrow Drive) and the introduction of an end-to-end “Fast Lane” for runners, bikers and skaters as well as an “ambling” lane for walkers. This, along with a bounty of new trees, better maintained grass, new gardens, better boundaries on the river, more insulation from the Storrow Drive noise and more uniformed signage are the keys behind the ambitious plan.

The 2020 date seems like a daunting timeline for the project, but the plans could be taken step-by-step – with the Storrow Drive changes the most challenging to get passed. However, the spirit of the vision should be applauded. It would allow thousands of residents to enjoy nature and connect with the area. That connection could help foster an appreciation for the environment that is missing in suburban and urban America. And it’s the lack of a connection that led us to this global warming mess. If you don’t appreciate something, who cares if it survives or not. That’s the real goal for Esplanade 2020.

 

Problems plague a big California solar project (LA Times).

Japan’s nuclear cleanup has been “confused” (NY Times).

The Energy Department needs better loan reviews, a report says (Washington Post).

Global oil consumption will rise a little slower (Washington Post).

A new federal rule prohibits ships from discharging waste within 3 miles of the California coast (San Francisco Chronicle).

A report says overfishing costs the EU 2.7 billion Euros a year (BBC).

 

Chinese airlines won’t comply with the EU’s emissions policies (BBC).

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission had extensive internal debates during Japan’s meltdown, emails show (Washington Post). Meanwhile, it’s expected to approve the first new reactors in decades (Washington Post).

A proposed Utah mine expansion shows the politics of coal (LA Times).

The climate change consensus isn’t necessarily cracking says a BBC column. A letter to the Wall Street Journal claims that it is.

California auto recyclers are coming under scrutiny (NY Times).

There’s more waste than just the chip and dip you have on your coffee table on Super Sunday. The Super Bowl includes all that electricity pumping into your HDTV. Aside from the excess of food and commercials in your own living room – there’s also the over-the-top celebrations in the host city (this year it was Indianapolis). There’s weeklong parties and free gear given out by every promotional company in the country. So – what’s an environmentally conscious fan to do? Boycott the game? Hardly – thanks to the NFL getting carbon credits in trade to offset the waste.

(The NFL) bought carbon credits to intercept the emissions resulting from transporting the Super Bowl teams to the stadium, according to NFL.com.

Go long to find the source of the renewable energy certificates. Wind farms in North Dakota actually produced the renewable energy Green Mountain Energy sold to the NFL.

Since one electron is indistinguishable from another, it’s impossible to know if any of the electricity produced in North Dakota actually reaches the Super Bowl facilities. But the NFL’s purchase of the certificates can offset the greenhouse gases associated with the energy physically used at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The certificates will blitz and sack the emission of 14,000 tons of gases during the month of Super Bowl related activities in and around Indianapolis.

The NFL went further than just buying credits, which alone would be enough.

Further engaging its fans, the NFL also organized the 1st & Green Environmental Challenge, in which participants track carbon and water savings through a website to compete for recognition on stage at the Super Bowl village. That program has saved an upwards of 1.4 million pounds of carbon and over 2.5 million gallons of water thus far.