Archive for October, 2012

Frankenstorm delivered dozens of fatalities, left millions of households without power and wiped out hundreds of houses as it washed ashore. In addition to the deadly destruction, it came with a message – or more of a warning: “Pay attention to climate change.” Once a hot topic four years ago, global warming has cooled off in the political landscape in recent years.

The deconstruction of superstorm Sandy and the reasons behind it have begun. While scientists are still analyzing how much climate change had to do with it, there’s a few facts to consider, according to this story. The rising sea levels caused by climate change and the melting sea ice in the past century have created higher storm surges since more ocean water means it will surge higher. These surges were especially destructive in New York, where they caused the most damage and reached historic levels. Nobody knows whether the hybrid storm of part-blizzard, part-Hurricane was because of climate change, but the higher water temperature from climate change likely boosted the storm’s strength by about 10 percent. And one theory has it that the storm’s path to the mainland U.S., as opposed to staying out to sea, was helped by melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Either way, it’s obvious that cities need to take precautions now – including levees, hurricane barriers, etc. – all along the East Coast. It’s something public officials should be harping on as a way to save their communities from future destruction at the hands of climate change.

Despite the pleas of scientists, public officials and the Twitterverse, climate change has been ignored this election cycle – along with a host of other issues. Climate change was not brought up in any debates and was barely mentioned during the campaign despite the fact that, according to polls, Americans are ready to deal with the problem of climate change. Yes, the focus is about the economy, but what does climate change effect? In the words of this letter writer “The economy, stupid.”  And, although Bill Clinton has started to take swipes at Mitt Romney for his record on climate change, it smacks of a little revisionist history. Where was this rhetoric last week? Last month? Last year? Instead, President Obama was boasting during the second debate about how much he has helped big oil.

It’s hard not to think that if Obama had focused just a bit of the past year on climate change (say, by maybe fighting for the stricter light bulb regulations that his predecessor implemented) as strongly as he focused on it during his first year (when he helped increase MPG standards for cars, got the EPA measuring greenhouse gas emissions, and helped establish cash for clunkers), that he might be able to stand on higher ground in this argument. Still, the choice is clear to anyone who has read this blog or paid any attention as to which candidate will do the most to stop climate change as president. Vote with your heads on Tuesday.

Hope everyone stays safe from Sandy. No regular links, except this NY Times article about how we could soon have a gap in satellite coverage of these storms.


Climate change is nowhere to be found in the presidential campaign (NY Times). But campaign surrogates had an interesting debate about it (Washington Post).

Coal mining costs are climbing (Washington Post).

Energy performance contracts are growing in popularity (NY Times).

The nation with the most natural gas vehicles will come as a surprise (NY Times).

Six Italian scientists were convicted yesterday of manslaughter for not properly communicating the danger that an earthquake in L’Aquila posed to the community. Yes, outrage has ensued. One scientist has quit his Italian post and many others are wondering if it’s even worth doing work for the government if being wrong means that you will be convicted of a crime.

The treatment of the Italian seismologists is at the extraordinary end of how badly things can go for scientists who fall foul of policymakers. The response in scientific communities around the world has been shock and condemnation. But it has also been one of recognition that this simply compounds the many risks involved in giving scientific advice, particularly on health and environmental hazards.

Let’s, of course, relate this to how it could affect climate change. The longterm consequences – if such a policy were ever enacted in the U.S. – would be atrocious. This ruling restricts scientists who might be afraid to share their information. That would stifle ideas and growth.

However, isn’t there a part of everybody who would want to take climate change deniers to court? Imagine the possibilities of holding them – or even the members of Congress who agree with them, such as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, accountable for the fallout from climate change. That – at least – would force some action.


The natural gas boom hasn’t been good for explorers (NY Times).

The melting Arctic presents security concerns (LA Times).

BP faces some big financial decisions (Washington Post).

There’s more to helping the environment than recycling (NY Times).

Germany faces higher energy prices (NY Times).


The UK had its weirdest weather on record (BBC).

An entrepreneur tries a rogue ocean experiment (NY Times).

A plane that can fly on plastic trash (NY Times).

Montana’s oil boom is affecting the governor’s race (Stateline).

IKEA will sell only LED lights by 2016 (Detroit Free Press).

- President Obama did not take my advice from the first presidential debate in response to Mitt Romney’s energy policy. Instead of hitting back about a “dirty energy policy” that sacrifices the health of the climate and the future of our planet, President Obama got into a fight with Romney in which the two tried to brag about being more “pro-oil.” Here’s a part from the transcript:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oil man.

And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, when — Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, “This plant kills,” and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil, same thing with natural gas.

So, the President is saying he’s pro-oil and pro-gas, while Romney is anti-coal? Nobody believes that. He just wanted to win the question about $4/gallon gas prices because he thinks it will help him win Ohio and secure his re-election.

At the same time, by not mentioning climate change at all during the debate, both candidates missed an opportunity to get on the winning side of an issue. And as this article points out, that’s by design in the Obama administration. But what was good policy 3 years ago is bad policy now.


California is set to implement cap-and-trade (NY Times).

The US plans to impose tariffs on Chinese solar panels (NY Times).

The drought is making restaurants raise prices and cut portions (LA Times).

Some scientists are linking extreme weather to global warming (LA Times).

The election is delaying a decision on coal ash (Washington Post).

Scientists can now map street level CO2 emissions (BBC).

Meeting conservation targets would be very pricey (BBC).


Fraudulent renewable energy credits are a problem (NY Times).

A Gulf oil slick may be from the 2010 spill (Washington Post).

Electric motorcycles may be next (NY Times).

The presidential race will have a big impact on California’s renewable energy (LA Times).

The EU rebrands its green energy campaign (BBC).

Ireland is set to make billions in oil revenue (BBC).


Taking a weed-whacker to environmental regulations will not be so easy (NY Times).

A warming Atlantic Ocean causes rainy summers in Europe (BBC).

Ocean acidity is rising (LA Times).

Coal miners are struggling (Washington Post).

The FTC issues guidelines for “eco-friendly” labels (NY Times).

Britain faces power shortage risks by 2015 (BBC).

The Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral (BBC).