Archive for Environment


It’s good news week

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Great. It’s 5 a.m. and the headlines this morning prompted a novelty song from the mid-1960s to start playing in my head.

Melting of Ice Sheet Could Flood Coastal Cities by 2100

Antarctic ice loss could double expected sea level rise by 2100, study says

Sea levels set to ‘rise far more rapidly than expected’

From the journal Nature:

Choices that the world makes this century could determine the fate of the massive Antarctic ice sheet. A study published online this week in Nature finds that continued growth in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades could trigger an unstoppable collapse of Antarctica’s ice — raising sea levels by more than a metre by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500.

“That is literally remapping how the planet looks from space,” says study co-author Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The good news, he says, is that it projects little or no sea-level rise from Antarctic melt if greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced quickly enough to limit the average global temperature rise to about 2 °C.

See? Good news.

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Whatever floats your boat

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At a time when Americans are waiting for (and expecting) fistfights to break out at political rallies, thank God for the Brits. At least they’ve retained their sense of humor.

The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council has a new polar research vessel designed and ready for construction at a shipyard on the River Mersey. The new ship “will deliver world-leading capability for UK research in both Antarctica and the Arctic.”

But it needs a name. Something noble and historic. Perhaps the name of a legendary British explorer like Shackleton or something lofty and poetic like Endeavour?

The NERC announced the online voting contest to name the nearly $300 million boat to be launched in 2019 recently, and the leading vote-getter so far is the simple but silly “Boaty McBoatface.”

It’s never a good thing to take yourself too seriously. Especially on Monday.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Graveyard of Atlantic drilling?

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Lost amidst the primary coverage Tuesday was the announcement that the Obama administration is shelving plans to open the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling:

The moves come amid declining industry investment in new exploration and production activities. The price of oil has fallen by about 70% since late 2014, making new investment less attractive. However, the industry continues to seek long-term investment opportunities under the assumption that oil prices will recover.

Offshore drilling in the Atlantic had drawn vigorous support from the American Petroleum Institute, which represents companies in the industry, saying it would have bolstered jobs, tax revenue and economic development.

“The decision appeases extremists,” API CEO Jack Gerard said in a statement. “This is not how you harness America’s economic and diplomatic potential.”

Or line our pockets at the future’s expense, he failed to add.

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Categories : Energy, Environment
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Earth at the last glacial maximum of the current ice age.
Photo by Ittiz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The upside of global warming is that we may have pushed back the next ice age. Bloomberg Business reports:

The conditions necessary for the onset of a new ice age were narrowly missed at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research near Berlin wrote Wednesday in the journal Nature. Since then, rising emissions of heat-trapping CO2 from burning oil, coal and gas have made the spread of the world’s ice sheets even less likely, they said.

The period between ice ages is about 50,000 years. But thanks to Standard Oil and the fossil fuels industry, one supposes, that threshold may have been pushed back another 50,000.
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Nothing to see here, swim along

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It was the warmest Christmas on record in New York City, with swimmers out at Coney Island and Rockaway Beach and record highs from Maine to Florida. Oh, and rare December tornadoes in Michigan, Indiana, and across the South. Even without what could turn out to be the most powerful El Niño on record, “The bottom line is that the world is warming,” Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist in Asheville, N.C. told the New York Times in October.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed nearly a quarter million people. It is also known as the Boxing Day tsunami, after the December 26th tradition in the Britain and its former colonies. The British Isles face their own Boxing Day natural disaster this morning:

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You pays yer money and you takes yer choice

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“The problem’s not solved because of this accord.” – President Barack Obama

Environmental issues are not my forte, but I followed live the release of the Paris agreement yesterday morning nonetheless. The president later gave this statement:

“I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world,” Obama concluded. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”

D.R. Tucker at Political Animal wrote passionately about the Paris agreement:

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Exxon Playing Dumb

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Leave ‘Em Alone

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For people who build our computers and smart phones, the Chinese have remarkably retrograde ideas about medicine.

Categories : Environment, News
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Great balls of foreboding

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With Hillary Clinton getting Swift Servered in the media for being, you know, Hillary Clinton, and with Bernie Sanders being used as a progressive effigy by Black Lives Matter, Washington-level Democrats are feeling a bit uneasy about their 2016 prospects this week. Opposed as they are by a Republican cornucopia of clowns, that’s saying something.

BuzzFeed News reported yesterday that, according to “a senior Democrat,” Al Gore supporters are “getting the old gang together” to explore the prospect of Gore entering 2016 presidential race:

“They’re figuring out if there’s a path financially and politically,” the Democrat said. “It feels more real than it has in the past months.”


A member of Gore’s inner circle asked to be quoted “pouring lukewarm water” — not, note, cold water — on the chatter.

“This is people talking to people, some of whom may or may not have talked to him,” the Gore adviser said.

It is not clear what the purpose is of floating this story to BuzzFeed, but it smacks of some foreboding about Clinton’s electability. A retired white woman I spoke with last week expressed dislike for Clinton, if that’s any indication. She had voted for Obama, and now is eager for Joe Biden to jump into the race. It’s not just about trust, but likeability.

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Wyoming’s Sergeant Schultz Act

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Wyoming calls it the Data Trespass Bill. But it sounds more like the Sergeant Schultz Act: You will know nothing, see nothing, and hear nothing! Via Charlie Pierce, this mind-bite from Think Progress:

Passed by the Wyoming state government and signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in March, the law makes it illegal to “collect resource data” from any land outside of city boundaries, whether that land be private, public, or federal. Under to the law, “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.”

Pierce writes:

That last provision is just bizarre. Clearly, it’s meant to punish anyone who submits photographic proof of environmental damage to the responsible federal authorities. It is nullification by a thousand cuts — make it illegal to cooperate with The Government in protecting yourself from being poisoned. The Invisible Hand’s second career as a proctologist is going quite well.

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Categories : Environment, National
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