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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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Category: Africa, author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Politics, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, Washington | Comments Off
Saturday, den 26. November 2011

This remarkable video from the International Space Station captures the fierce fragility of everything we do and are: Pulling back even farther, Carl Sagan’s musings on the “pale blue dot,” and the “responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known.” Please give thanks to each other.

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Tuesday, den 22. November 2011

Since a cargo ship leaked 350 tons of oil in New Zealand — marking the nation’s “most significant environmental maritime disaster” — more than 2,000 seabirds have died. In some good news , the New Zealand wildlife facility has now freed 49 of the 343 rescued penguins. People first responded to the disaster by knitting tiny sweaters that would keep the penguins warm and protected, and we can expect more penguins, sans the sweaters, to be freed shortly.

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Category: author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, The Nation, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Tuesday, den 22. November 2011

“We need growth that is sustainable,” President Barack Obama said last week 20 minutes into his address to the Australian government. “This includes the clean energy that creates green jobs and combats climate change, which cannot be denied . We see it in the stronger fires, the devastating floods, the Pacific islands confronting rising seas ,” Obama continued, talking about climate change in a way he has rarely done in his own country. “And as countries with large carbon footprints, the United States and Australia have a special responsibility to lead .”

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Category: author, Barack Obama, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Politics, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Saturday, den 19. November 2011

Ohio’s transparency-allergic treasurer and U.S. senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) is finally stepping out on stage by offering a certain type of policy positions: wildly unpopular . Mandel endorsed Gov. John Kasich’s (R) anti-labor law early this summer, insisting that Senate Bill 5 — a bill that was resoundingly defeated by police and firefighters — “is about respecting police and firefighters.” Now, Mandel is demanding that Ohio officials open up a national forest in Ohio to fracking — a policy 70 percent of Ohioans oppose . And he wants it done immediately. Ohio’s Wayne National Forest is host to oil and gas wells, but none as deep and dangerous as those created by fracking, a method of deep natural gas drilling. The plan to lease 3,302 acres during a Dec. 7 public auction “ inspired new fears ” in Athens, OH about the possible pollution of the area water supply. These concerned prompted Wayne National Forest supervisor Anne Carey to withdraw the auction and begin an evaluation process that could take up to six months. Mandel slammed Carey for her concern, insisting that places like Mahoning Valley (which is about 150 miles away from the park) “ will greatly benefit from fracking “: “The Mahoning Valley is one of the areas that will greatly benefit from fracking,” said Mandel, who called The Vindicator on Thursday to discuss the issue as well as criticize a decision by a national forest supervisor in the Athens area for postponing a plan to lease more than 3,000 acres for oil and gas drilling. Mandel said the gas-and-oil business is booming and “a delay in drilling is a delay in job creation for the state of Ohio.” The business can “rejuvenate parts of Ohio,” including the Valley , he said. Once again, Mandel’s idea of “benefit” is questionable. Fracking has a long history of groundwater pollution, leaving entire towns with highly-contaminated water supplies. Indeed, some contaminated wells have been found to contain extremely high levels leukemia-causing benzene while others left people filling dizzy and caused horses and pets to lose their hair. Ohio itself doesn’t have the greatest record with natural gas. One Cleveland home actually blew up after fracking forced gas into its water well. Just this week, a natural gas pipeline just south of the national park in Ohio exploded this week, “causing fires that destroyed three houses and a barn .” It’s the second to occur this year. Perhaps this is why Ohioans are dead set against the idea. Or perhaps this is just Mandel’s idea of rejuvenation.

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Category: author, Clean Air Act, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, The Nation, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, Yglesias | Comments Off
Monday, den 25. July 2011

EnergyNOW! — the clean-energy news outlet funded by natural gas company Chesapeake Energy’s American Clean Skies Foundation — proved its editorial independence with a hard-hitting look at the impact of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in Pennsylvania. A 30-minute investigative report by Tyler Suiters contrasts the economic boon of fracking to the environmental costs of polluted drinking water, health problems, and toxic accidents:

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Monday, den 25. July 2011

Scott Borgerson The heat trapped by hundreds of billions of tons of greenhouse pollution from fossil fuels is destabilizing the Arctic ice cap. With extreme warmth at the North Pole, about 20°F above historical norms, the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean is plummeting to record lows . This transformation of the Arctic is not only destroying the polar ecosystem and societies, but putting the stability of the global climate system at risk. In response, Scott Borgerson, a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations , is encouraging the United States to rush in and burn up the vast reserves of carbon that have spent millennia under frozen seas and tundra. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed with hedge fund investor Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, Borgerson says the response to the “melting sea ice and thawing tundra” of the Arctic is to compete with other nations to drill the “ world’s largest oil, natural gas and mineral resources ” there: While most investors are focused on the economic potential of lower latitudes, the Arctic is—due to increased access from climate change—quietly undergoing a radical transformation that is attracting the attention of savvy investors. But the U.S. is asleep at the wheel, leaving some of the world’s largest oil, natural gas and mineral resources to be developed by others. Long literally and figuratively frozen to outside investors, the Arctic now has melting sea ice and thawing tundra that are yielding huge resource opportunities . The authors say “the U.S. must manage the process so it is environmentally sustainable.” The premise that there is an “environmentally sustainable” way of accelerating greenhouse pollution borders on insanity. The North Slope reserves Borgerson mentions in his op-ed would alone emit about 16 billion tons of carbon dioxide if drilled and burned, the equivalent of three years of total US cabon pollution, or half the world’s total annual carbon emissions. This would speed the world headlong toward the trillion-ton limit of irreversible and catastrophic warming. As the Arctic ice collapses, global weather patterns are changing in unpredictable ways. The jet stream is being pushed “further south and bringing arctic cold to much of Eurasia and Japan” and “increased precipitation and colder temperatures in the winter” in North America. Oceanic circulation is being disrupted, with the collapse of the Gulf Stream a future possibility. The vast Siberian tundra is thawing, allowing for the potential release of hundreds of billions of tons of methane and carbon dioxide from the long-frozen peat bogs. This is no long-term threat — as the authors of the op-ed note, there are signs the permafrost is already becoming a “permamelt.” Yet “no climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.” Planetary civilization is speeding toward the cliff of catastrophic climate change. Drilling for fossil fuels in a melting Arctic is as sensible as disabling the brakes and slamming down the gas pedal when the cliff is in sight.

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