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Thursday, den 26. January 2012

Former Vice President Al Gore is heading to Antarctica to highlight the extraordinary changes greenhouse pollution is causing even in our most remote continent. When Gore visited Antarctica in 1988, scientists were predicting it could warm more rapidly than the global average. “This prediction has proven true,” Gore writes. “Today, the West Antarctic Peninsula is warming about four times faster than the global average.” Although the vast ice sheets of the frozen continent are remote from almost all of human civilization, their warming has drastic implications for billions of people. With the melting of those almost inconceivable reserves of ice , the planet’s sea levels are rising. Scientists now expect 21st-century sea level rise — on the scale of three to six feet or more — will be dominated by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps. Gore is leading an expedition of “civic and business leaders, activists and concerned citizens, as well as “many of the world’s leading climate scientists” to see how man’s negligence is transforming the forbidding continent: To better understand the changes taking place near the South Pole and the impacts those changes will have around the world, I will be returning to Antarctica this month with The Climate Reality Project. A large number of civic and business leaders, activists and concerned citizens from many countries on this voyage will be joined by many of the world’s leading climate scientists and Antarctica experts to see firsthand and in real time how the climate crisis is unfolding in Antarctica. The Climate Reality Project is asking everyone to host their own expeditions wherever they live. As the new plant hardiness zone maps from the USDA remind us, we don’t even need to leave our backyards to see the effects of the hundreds of billions of tons of carbon pollution we have pumped into the atmosphere with the profligate burning of fossil fuels. Nor do we have to leave our neighborhoods to see the signs of positive change — community gardens, electric cars, solar panels, wind turbine manufacturers, and more in the growing mass movement to build a sustainable, resilient civilization on our changing planet.

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Category: author, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Monday, den 2. January 2012

At a town hall in Atlantic, Iowa, Saturday afternoon, Gingrich gave an unusual reason for his present denial of man-made global warming. “ I’m an amateur paleontologist ,” Gingrich said. “I spend a lot of time looking at the Earth’s temperature for a very long time. I’m a lot harder to convince than just looking at a computer model.” Professional paleontologists, who have spent a lot more time than Gingrich looking at the Earth’s temperature, are convinced. “ Few credible scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution,” the American Quaternary Society wrote in 2006.

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Category: author, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, politico, Politics, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Friday, den 16. December 2011

Tonight, Iowa hosts the last GOP presidential debate before the first caucuses on Jan. 3. A question going into the debate is how Mitt Romney will treat green jobs while he is in the Hawkeye state, given his past statement that green jobs are “illusory.” Although Iowa leads in wind energy, investors remain uncertain about wind’s future growth, as the federal tax credit for renewable energy is set to expire after Dec. 31. Yesterday, at a Senate Finance subcommittee hearing, senators and business leaders convened to discuss the future of these clean energy tax credits. Even Sen. John Thune (R-SD) recognized at the hearing that “American businesses need greater certainty.” The Iowa wind industry supports more than 2,300 jobs and a payroll of $70 million in the state. During a recent visit to a wind facility in West Branch, Iowa run by Acciona Windpower North America, the CEO Joe Baker discussed the job creation benefits to the area with the Center for American Progress: Before we came to this facility, it had been abandoned. And West Branch, Iowa is a relatively small town. It’s close to Iowa City, where the University of Iowa is, but we were able to bring over 100 good-paying technical and professional jobs to the area, improving the economy in West Branch, specifically — a number of our employees live in West Branch and a number of our employees live in the Iowa City area as well. The clean energy sector has provided some relief in a rough economy, averaging a growth rate of 8.3 percent between 2003-10, nearly double the growth rate of the overall economy. Yet that hasn’t stopped Romney from attacking this growing industry. Earlier in the campaign season, Romney attacked green jobs in an Orange County Register op-ed , calling them “illusory” jobs created in Finland, not the U.S. In addition to Iowa, he also ignores the reality of 64,000 clean energy jobs in his home state Massachusetts.

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Category: author, Congress, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, White House | Comments Off
Friday, den 16. December 2011

During an appearance at New York University on Wednesday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked to respond to a 200,000-person petition calling on the Internet giant to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Google, whose official motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” officially disagrees with the right-wing lobbying behemoth on climate change, Internet regulation, intellectual property rights, LGBT rights, privacy rights, net neutrality, and women’s rights, yet continues to fund the Chamber’s radical agenda . The new activist organization SumOfUs has launched the Google Quit The Chamber campaign to get Google to act consistent with its supposed values. Admitting that he knew about the petition effort, Schmidt said that the “Chamber of Commerce has helped us in some areas.” As an example, the Chamber helped him in a dispute over meeting the Chinese prime minister. He said this work was “ representing good American values .” With a chuckle, Schmidt said that Google will “see what happens” with the SumOfUs petition: There are plenty of things we disagree with them on. But I’ll let the petition continue (chuckle), and see what happens. Watch it: “Where is Eric Schmidt’s moral compass?” SumOfUs President Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman responded in a statement to ThinkProgress. “The Chamber of Commerce represents the opposite of ‘good American values’ –- not to mention Google’s values. Hundreds of thousands of Google users have made it clear that the Chamber of Commerce’s wars on internet freedom, LGBT and women’s rights, the climate, financial reform, good jobs, and much more are morally incompatible with our own values and with the values of Google’s employees. We call on Eric Schmidt to clarify exactly which ‘good American values’ he believes the Chamber of Commerce represents — and to get Google out of the Chamber immediately. The Chamber’s policies are, frankly, evil. Google, abide by your own principles and don’t be evil.”

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Category: author, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, White House | Comments Off
Sunday, den 11. December 2011

The representatives of developing countries are expressing their dismay at the the limited agreement the United States and China are willing to adopt on carbon pollution and climate resilience at the United Nations negotiations in Durban, South Africa. “ What is the news I’m going to take home to my flooded country? ” Claudia Salerno, the lead negotiator for Venezuela, asked angrily. “This is nothing compared to the level of ambition that we require.” During these talks, people’s around the world have been disrupted and destroyed by climate disasters . For the second year in a row, killer floods have struck Venezuela during the negotiations, killing at least eight and putting 29,000 families in shelters.

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Category: Africa, author, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, United Nations, War, Washington | Comments Off
Saturday, den 10. December 2011

With climate denial running rampant in the GOP field, Mitt Romney claimed just today that scientists may figure out if humans are causing warming “10, 20, 50 years from now.” Except scientists have already figured that out , and majority of Americans want action, including religious Americans. A new University of Maryland poll finds that 76 percent of Catholics and evangelicals support a global pact reducing the pollution that causes global warming, much like the one on the table in Durban, South Africa. If such an agreement is ever reached, religious Americans say they would stand by it with conviction. Of the 1,500 people surveyed, 57 percent said that violating a treaty would be morally wrong . About 17 percent see it as a sin , requiring atonement to avoid everlasting consequences… In [the University of Maryland] poll, 76 percent of respondents said preventing climate change is an important goal. Among them, 32 percent said it falls within their obligation to protect God’s creation. A bigger group, at 44 percent, didn’t think of it as an obligation. But it was important to defend against rising temperatures nonetheless. The outright religious support for a global agreement contrasts with the political posturing we have seen heading into 2012. But what’s clear is a majority of Americans, religious or not , understand climate change is a threat and view it as a moral or religious problem.

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Category: Africa, author, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Friday, den 9. December 2011

Our guest blogger is Tom Kenworthy, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. So much for the oil and gas industry claim that the practice of hydraulic fracturing has never polluted a drinking water well. On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency officially threw that claim in the waste pit. It announced that an investigation of water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming had linked the chemicals found in a ground water aquifer that was a source of drinking water in private wells to the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of nearby natural gas wells. The agency said in a news release : EPA’s analysis of samples taken from the Agency’s deep monitoring wells in the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels. Fracking is a widely used industry practice to stimulate production of oil and gas from deep wells. It involves the pumping at high pressure of large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals to fracture underground rock formations and release oil and gas. The oil and gas industry – along with some prominent federal officials – have long claimed that because fracking occurs so far below groundwater aquifers that migration of the chemicals used in fracking into drinking water supplies was not possible and had never occurred. Last May, for example, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson testified on Capitol Hill that she was not aware “of any proven case where the fracking process itself affected water.” Now it looks like she’s going to have to revise and extend those remarks. And it looks like the industry is facing some tough times ahead as it seeks to keep up a rush of shale gas development in fields stretching from New York to Texas. For more information about the need for greater scrutiny on fracking, see Kenworthy’s report on “ Bringing Fracking to the Surface “

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Category: author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Monday, den 5. December 2011

Bruce Sterling, the science-fiction author and futurist whose book Distraction foreshadowed the Occupy Wall Street movement, spoke about the “melancholy and tiresome reality” of climate change at the 2011 Art + Environment Conference in Reno, Nevada this October. Sterling described the catastrophic drought and wildfires that have consumed his home state of Texas. He went on to explain how we now live in the Anthropocene , a term first coined in 2000 by Paul Cruetzen to describe a new geologic era in which the predominant factor on the Earth’s surface is human activity. Sterling’s 30-minute talk is a must-watch tour-de-force of sober acceptance of the world we have created, and what the future holds: A few quotations from Sterling’s speech: Climate change has lost all its sci-fi tinge in my lifetime and is now a melancholy and tiresome reality . There hasn’t been a year when I haven’t written about climate change. It’s one of the most obvious things to predict . It’s just kind of a blunt reality that the fossil-fuel enterprise has done a regulatory capture of the entire planet , and we’re involved in a war for oil, and it’s the curse of oil, and it’s a war for a curse that’s endless and happening. You know, it gets boring running around being a Cassandra. Starting Earth Day in 1970 was a pretty late start considering the multicentury scope of this problem. I will pass the rest of my lifetime in the shadow of climate change. It’s not about warning people in 2011, or trying to avert or defuse a misfortune. The wolf is beyond the door. The wolf is in the living room . This is the anthropocenic condition. This is how we live. This is force majeure. It’s here. It’s very obvious. There are no national forests. You cannot protect a forest with a nation. There are forests that protect nations . The global climate crisis is the climate crisis and it’s global because the globe is an externality . “Don’t pollute you, don’t pollute me, pollute that fellow behind me.” Just throw that into the atmosphere because the atmosphere is somebody else’s problem. The thing that encourages me or sort of offers daylight is there’s no pro-climate crisis party . There’s no government that actually likes the idea of wrecking the climate. It doesn’t really benefit anybody. It really is an externality. It’s just something that’s entropic. He closed with a stirring defense of the role of art, to confront the hard truths of the human condition in ways that other enterprises cannot do. (HT Boing Boing )

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Category: author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Wednesday, den 30. November 2011

An “ oily muck ” from the Suncor Energy tar sands refinery in Commerce City, Colorado has contaminated a creek that leads to the South Platte River, a major source of fresh water for Colorado residents. Contractors for the Canadian oil company are working to trap the seep with booms and suck up the poisoned water, Denver’s ABC news channel reports. “We’re responding in what we believe is a responsible way to treat the environment ,” said John Gallagher, vice president of refining for Suncor. The EPA has fined the refinery $364,000 for pollution violations during the past five years, including $130,500 last month. (HT: NWF )

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Category: Africa, author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Tuesday, den 29. November 2011

This afternoon, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), will mark up H.R.1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, protecting Americans from a non-existent threat. This bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new regulations on toxic agricultural dust , even though the EPA is not intending to issue new regulations on toxic agricultural dust . Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Rep. John Carter (R-TX) have all falsely claimed the EPA is planning new toxic dust regulations. When asked, their spokesmen admitted they were speaking “hypothetically.”

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