Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 03:58 • Justin Mikulka
oil train conference

On November 12th, I boarded a train headed to Pittsburgh, PA to attend the first national independent gathering focused on the topic of oil trains. The trip would take me through Philadelphia where an Amtrak train crashed in May resulting in eight fatalities and over 200 injuries. 

There is general consensus that the accident would have been avoided if positive train control technology had been in place. In 2008, Congress mandated that positive train control be installed by the end of 2015. However, the railroads failed to do this and were recently given a three to five year extension by Congress after the rail companies threatened to shut down rail service if the mandate were enforced.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 - 00:01 • Kyla Mandel

The time has finally arrived. We're on the Eurostar heading to Paris for the COP21 climate conference kick-off.

On Monday, the world is meeting in Paris to (hopefully) agree a deal that will curb our carbon emissions and avert catastrophic climate change.

The stakes are high. Over the course of just two weeks, we’ll see leaders doing backroom negotiations, and countries from every corner of our planet will be working hard to have their voice heard. Meanwhile, others – be it green NGOs or climate deniers – will be doing their best to influence the decisions.

This is why DeSmog UK has put together a quick guide highlighting some on-the-ground events we're hoping to cover. You won’t want to miss it.

Friday, November 27, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest

This is a guest post by Tim Donaghy of Greenpeace USA.

Royal Dutch Shell may have recently scrapped its plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, but the oil industry has not given up its designs on the Arctic Ocean’s fossil fuels. In September, Houston-based company Hilcorp submitted a plan to develop and produce oil from the Liberty prospect in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska. If the Obama administration approves Hilcorp’s plan it will mark a dubious milestone: the first oil produced entirely from federal waters in the Arctic Ocean. The President has made several important decisions in recent months to slow or halt Arctic oil exploration, but he can still do more. President Obama has the power to keep Arctic oil in the ground for good, and approving Hilcorp’s plan would be a step in the wrong direction.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 07:58 • Farron Cousins

Lamar Smith, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched a one-man crusade to discredit climate scientists whom he believes are only working to advance President Obama’s climate initiatives.

In October, Smith began fighting with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over a study it published showing that climate change had not paused or slowed down — a finding that irks climate science deniers who attempt to argue the opposite, incorrect view.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest

This is an excerpt cross-posted with permission from the National Center for Science Education.

A recent survey by the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment found that only 16% Americans believe there is no solid evidence for global warming. Though good news for the public at large, there are still questions about how global warming is being addressed with students, the next generation of science-savvy citizens, particularly in the classroom and with the texts used there.

Though there have been studies on what students know about climate change, my colleague Diego Román and I wondered how science textbooks were presenting the topic. Are the textbooks presenting climate change as real and certain, matching the scientific consensus? Or are the textbooks presenting climate change as controversial, matching historic (if not current) public opinion? To answer this question, we closely examined four California middle school textbooks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 09:25 • Emma Gilchrist
Ottawa climate protest
Ottawa climate protest

Nine and a half years. That’s how long Stephen Harper was prime minister of Canada — a long haul for environmentalists, who were all but shut out of Ottawa and often antagonized by the federal government.

Now that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have taken the helm, advocates have high hopes for a course correction on the environment and energy files. But after nearly a decade of working under hostile conditions, environmentalists need to make a course correction of their own if they want to effectively influence public policy, experts say.   

If I was running a large ENGO and my file was climate, it’s a new day,” said Allan Northcott, vice-president of Max Bell Foundation, which runs the Public Policy Training Institute to train non-profit leaders in how to effectively advocate for policy changes.

The opportunity is different, so it’s going to require a different plan, a different strategy.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 00:01 • Kyla Mandel

The Brussels ‘revolving door’ has allowed Big Energy to remain close to European climate and energy decision makers ahead of December’s Paris COP21 climate talks, a new report shows.

The report, by transparency campaigning and research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), highlights the easy and frequent flow of EU public servants and elected representatives into corporate jobs linked  to the fossil fuel industry, or those who represent them, and vice versa.

Major industry players such as Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil, and energy lobby consultancy FleishmanHillard are linked to the latest revolving door cases this year.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 16:01 • Brendan DeMelle

A new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) shows that the climate denial echo chamber organizations funded by ExxonMobil and Koch family foundations produced misinformation that effectively polluted mainstream media coverage of climate science and polarized the climate policy debate. 

The abstract and full text of the study can be found here: Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change.

The analysis of 20 years' worth of data by Yale University researcher Dr. Justin Farrell shows beyond a doubt that ExxonMobil and the Kochs are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout our mainstream media and public discourse.

The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust,” Dr. Farrell told the Washington Post which was first to cover the news of the study's release. “This counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at creating ideological polarization through politicized tactics, and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with scientific findings of their own,” Dr. Farrell said.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 10:54 • James Wilt
Alberta Climate Change Announcment
Alberta Climate Change Announcment

The days of infinite growth in Alberta’s oilsands are over with the Alberta government’s blockbuster climate change announcement on Sunday, which attracted broad support from industry and civil society.

This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part.”

Notley and Environment & Parks Minister Shannon Phillips released a 97-page climate change policy plan, which includes five key pillars.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 08:58 • Farron Cousins

As the world gears up for the climate negotiations kicking off in Paris next week, Republicans in the United States are doing everything in their power to make sure that no climate deal takes place without their approval (which will never happen.)

But there are a few Republicans in leadership positions in Washington that have had enough of being labeled the “anti-science” party, and they are hoping to turn the GOP onto the idea that climate change is very real.

Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, and Mark Kirk have created a new committee that will meet periodically to talk about environment and energy issues. The group, called the Senate Energy and Environment Working Group, is the first national effort by Senate Republicans to address the threats of climate change and to address our continued dependence on fossil fuels.