Archive for August, 2012


The U.S. auto fleet must average 54.5 mpg by 2025 (Washington Post).

Japan tries to go nuclear-free (NY Times).

Shell gets permission to begin prep work for Arctic drilling (NY Times).

Australia joins the EU’s carbon market (BBC).

Cargo ships consider sails (NY Times).

The headline has become as numbing as a story about drunk Lindsay Lohan or improper Lady Gaga – and it came again this week in Terry’s Monday news links: “The arctic sea ice has hit a new record low.” It’s rather easy to read over, but a deeper look shows the true danger in the dwindling arctic sea ice.

The news reported that the rate of decline of the sea ice is the highest that has been observed in the month of August and the melting season is expected to last three more weeks, leaving the sea ice even more vulnerable. And, according to the researchers, the melt wouldn’t happen without contributions (otherwise known as pollution) from humans.

Weird weather doesn’t seem to be a factor this time around.
“There’s no persistent weather pattern that’s emerged this summer,” Stroeve said.
“The ice is just thinner than it used to be. So it doesn’t really matter so much what the summer weather does anymore—the thin ice melts out easier during the summer melt season.”

The problem is that the arctic sea ice melting affects a lot more than just sea levels. This article points out 8 effects from it, including how Greenland’s ice sheet could be affected because of the arctic sea ice melt, and that could be catastrophic.

The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet appears to be accelerating of late, losing about four times as much mass last year as it did a decade ago. That’s partly due to warmer air. And it’s partly driven by rising ocean temperatures, as warmer water chews away at the edges of the ice sheet.
As a result, a recent study by the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory predicted that sea levels are on pace to rise at least a foot by 2050, and possibly three feet by century’s end.

If the whole thing is enough to make you sick, don’t read on because it gets even more nauseating. With the arctic sea ice melting, oil companies are making an effort to offshore drill in the area. The purpose of that, of course, is to get more oil. That oil will then lead to more greenhouse gas emissions and make matters even worse for arctic sea ice – unless of course you want it to be all water so that oil companies can get every drop of oil buried below the ocean.

Although the late-lingering ice was a factor in delaying the start of the first offshore drilling here in more than two decades, Shell officials say the ice now has retreated to more than 20 miles north of the company’s primary drilling target, on the Berger prospect in the Chukchi Sea — which itself is about 70 miles offshore.
The first of Shell’s drilling rigs, the Discoverer, is scheduled to arrive in the Chukchi Sea later this week. The other, the Kulluk, is halfway on its journey to the Beaufort Sea.
Permanent anchors have already been installed at both drilling locations to allow for the reduced target of drilling two complete wells this season, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in an interview here.
Shell has asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consider extending by 18 days the Sept. 24 deadline under which the company was supposed to have completed drilling in the Chukchi Sea, where the relatively remote location requires an early wind-up to ensure there is time to address any problems that occur before the onset of winter ice.

If it’s not clear yet, the oil companies are winning. Every time you see that arctic sea ice is shrinking, make sure to remember that the only beneficiary from that is oil companies.


Calls to lower the ethanol quota continue (LA Times).

Biomass is on the rise in West Africa (BBC).

Arctic sea ice will hit a record low (BBC).

India’s mobile phone industry turns to green power (BBC).

New England officials are concerned about increased reliance on natural gas (Boston Globe).

Consumers still prefer CFLs to LEDs (LA Times).


Oil interests are gushing about Romney’s energy policy (NY Times).

A federal appeals court strikes down the EPA’s “good neighbor” air quality rule (Washington Post).

The Midwest is drying up (NY Times).

An Illinois utility benefits from access to Obama (NY Times).

The Keystone pipeline clears another hurdle (Washington Post).

Warming on Antarctica is not unprecedented (BBC).

A UK advisor says the 2C target is unrealistic (BBC).

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney plans to lay out a comprehensive energy plan for the country on Thursday, just days after he took $50,000 each from oil executives at a fundraising luncheon.
He told the crowd of about 125 that he would welcome their suggestions on his plan, though. “Your input is something I wanted to retain before we actually cross the Ts and dot the Is on those policies,” Mr. Romney said. “My intent …is to fully take advantage of our energy resources.”
Mr. Romney is expected to bring in between $6 million and $7 million from a day of fundraisers in Texas with the help of donors such as Harold Hamm, an oilman whose $11 billion net worth makes him the 36th richest person in America, according to Forbes. Mr. Hamm is also an energy adviser to the Romney campaign and the candidate regularly mentions the oil baron in his stump speech.
I wonder if he’s asking any environmentalists for their input in his energy plan? These oil barons are exactly the people who need to be left out of our discussion on the environment. As Bill McKibben wrote earlier this month in Rolling Stone, the oil and coal executives have enough fossil fuels in reserves and scouted out, that they could raise the Earth’s temperature nearly 10 degrees farenheit just by using them all. We can’t allow that to happen – and by Romney’s decision to accept funding from the oil execs and give them nearly free reign, that’s the track we’re on. And it aligns with where we know Mitt Romney stands on a few of the climate change issues:
He has vowed to approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, and seek a major expansion of oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands and waters — including Pacific and Atlantic Coast waters that remain off-limits under Obama.
Romney backs opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, which would take Capitol Hill approval, and has called for fast-track permitting for energy projects.
Elsewhere, he has attacked Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including rules that force cuts in mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants, alleging it’s too costly, and wants to strip EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The choice, and the stakes, couldn’t be clearer for the environment.


American reliance on Saudi oil is increasing (NY Times).

Shell is confident of beginning Arctic drilling this year (NY Times).

The Keystone pipeline crosses political boundaries (Washington Post).

Environmentalists want endangered species protection for great white sharks (Washington Post).

The drought may be elsewhere, but it’s still affecting New England (Boston Globe).

Baltimore switches streetlights to LEDs (Baltimore Sun).


The drought causes a fight over the ethanol fuel quota (NY Times).

A proposed Kentucky coal mine threatens a Girl Scout camp (NY Times).

Half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is put off limits to drilling (Washington Post).

Urban growth means hotter summers (LA Times).

The Forest Service will now permit nighttime aerial firefighting (LA Times).

Antarctic sea ice is melting faster (BBC).

A “green cremation” machine opens in Minnesota (BBC).

There’s a new face in the national discourse on climate change – and thus a new view on the environment. Or shall we say a recycled view. Let’s take a closer look at Paul Ryan.

Ryan is pro-investment in oil and gas, but would seek to  cut off all national funding of wind and energy:

The Wisconsin Republican has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s clean energy agenda, offering a fiscal plan earlier this year that neatly mirrors the GOP’s policy priorities. The plan would expand oil and gas drilling, limit the reach of the EPA and kill the Energy Department’s clean energy loan program.

Ryan has been known to mention that global warming can’t exist because there’s still snow, but then he calls scientists hyper.

The question of where Mitt Romney stood on climate change has seemingly been answered with a close look at Paul Ryan.

“The folks who think about energy and environment issues had, as recently as six months ago, some pretty serious reservations about Romney,” McKenna said in an interview. “What was a problem six months ago is pretty solidly shored up now among the folks on the right.”
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, voted in 2011 against measures to enhance public health and environmental protection 97 percent of the time, according to the League of Conservation Voters, a Washington-based environmental group.

And so, the choice couldn’t be clearer: Paul Ryan = anti-environment; Brack Obama = pro-environment.


July was the hottest month in the US on record (BBC), and the extreme conditions it’s brought may become more common (Washington Post). It’s also produced a lot of desperate measures (Washington Post).

This lengthy article offers ideas for selling the general public on solar power (NY Times).

Romney’s position on wind energy tax credits could hurt him in Iowa (LA Times).

The US shies away from a 2C target in climate change negotiations (BBC).

California farmers are fearful of a water distribution plan (NY Times).

Texas goes to electronic water meters to save money (NY Times).

A commission says the London games were the greenest ever (BBC).

During the past three weeks, three of the most outspoken voices in the climate change battle have made their arguments heard.

It started with environmentalist Bill McKibben’s piece in Rolling Stone, which advanced the climate change argument by boiling it down to a few numbers on greenhouse gas emissions. The article also pushed for a solution that institutions divest of their investments in big oil and coal companies.

Climate change skeptic Richard Muller then weighed in – and caused the biggest stir of all the voices. Muller released a study that he said confirmed global warming is happening and is caused by humans using too many greenhouse gases. It was a groundbreaking move since it meant the most vocal climate change skeptic has changed his mind.

The third voice that was heard from was NASA scientist James Hansen, who documented a study officially linking the numerous current weather extremes (heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes) directly to climate change. No longer are we walking around saying “this is what it will be like all the time once global warming sets in,” we’re now saying “this is global warming.”

And so, we’ve heard from all the prominent voices in the argument, but what about politicians. Well, it’s all quiet on the political front as Mitt Romney and President Obama have stayed quiet on the matter.