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Tue, 2013-08-06 16:01Kevin Grandia
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Are Kellogg's Snacks a Threat to Global Climate?

John Bryant, CEO of snack food giant Kellogg's, found himself in hot water last week on a quarterly earnings call when one investor took the company to task for its part in destroying vital Indonesian peatlands that store vast amounts of climate-polluting carbon, and rainforests home to the last 400 remaining wild Sumatran tigers in the world.

Tony the Tiger is probably pretty embarrassed at the moment.

At issue is a recent partnership struck between Kellogg's and an Indonesian company called Wilmar, who is the largest supplier of palm oil in the world. Wilmar is rated the least sustainable publicly traded company in the world by Newsweek, lagging behind companies like Monsanto, Coal India, Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil.

In order to plant the palm trees that produce the palm oil, Wilmar destroys thousands of hectares of virgin Indonesian rainforest and peatlands every year. The last remaining 400 Sumatran tigers call these rainforests home and the peatlands are very important when it comes to climate change, as they store more carbon than the world emits in 9 years.

Kellogg's recently struck a partnership with Wilmar to buy their palm oil to use in the cheap snack foods it sells.

It's mass rainforest destruction in the name of Pringles.

Fri, 2013-08-02 13:26Kevin Grandia
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United Airlines Wins "Gold" for Environment Work While Fighting Climate Action

Sigh. Airline giant United was named “Eco-Aviation Airline of the Year” today by the industry trade publication Air Transport World. This comes at the same time that United is being called out by industry watchdogs for its major role in lobbying against new regulations to begin curbing the massive amounts of climate pollution the airline industry is responsible for. 

Last year, United Airlines, along with the airline industry lobby group, Airlines for America, led the way on a massive lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to try to kill a plan that would see US airline companies participate in the European Union's climate law for all their flights to and from Europe. Basically, the law would have reduced pollution on all flights to and from the EU, at an estimated cost of only $3 per passenger on trans-Atlantic flights.

Mon, 2013-07-22 14:54Kevin Grandia
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Harper's Audit-the-Enemy Strategy Fulfills Nixon's Dream

Harper's Enemy List part of Nixon style strategy

Last week it was revealed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office created an “enemy list” to include in briefing books for newly appointed Cabinet members. 

Pundits were quick to point out that US President Richard Nixon also had such a list of enemies that his office maintained.

However, the enemy list was only a small part of a much larger strategy that Nixon dreamed up and, as history shows, he was never able to fully execute his plan. Unfortunately for the many Canadians on Harper's list, the Prime Minister and his office are now fulfilling Nixon's dream. 

Nixon's list was dubbed the “opponents list” by his political staffers and was part of a larger strategy they called the “Political Enemies Project.” This disturbing strategy came to light during the Senate Committee hearings looking into the Watergate scandal that eventually forced President Nixon to resign in disgrace in August, 1974.

Tue, 2013-07-16 09:30Kevin Grandia
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Climate Denial on Display: Greedy Lying Bastards for Rent and On Demand

When I was first asked to help with the launch of the movie Greedy Lying Bastards, I really wasn't too sure of the title.

Would people be turned off by the aggressive tone of calling people like David and Charles Koch and other individuals behind the attack on the science of climate change “bastards” “liars” and “greedy”?

Are the people featured in the film, like Fred Singer, who pretend to be experts on everything from the links between cigarettes and cancer, near-earth asteroid disasters and climate change, actually bastards? Are they greedy liars?

Is it a fair claim?

So I looked up the formal definitions of the words to see if they fit. 

Mon, 2013-07-08 13:32Kevin Grandia
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Shameful: Keystone XL Proponent Using Deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec Oil Train Tragedy To Promote Pipeline

Five people are confirmed dead and 40 people remain missing in the small hamlet of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where a train with 73 carloads full of Bakken shale oil derailed explosively, incinerating 30 buildings on Saturday.

Local resident Henri-Paul Audette told the Huffington Post that his brother's apartment was next to the railroad tracks, very close to the spot where the train derailed.

“I haven't heard from him since the accident,” he said. “I had thought … that I would see him.”

This is by all accounts, a major tragedy, lives have been lost, loved ones remain missing and a small town has been nearly wiped off the map. There are still a lot of unknowns about this disaster, but that has not stopped supporters of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from using the horrific events in Lac-Megantic to promote the pipeline.

In a commentary piece published in the Globe and Mail on Sunday, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a “senior fellow” at the Exxon- and Koch-funded Manhattan Institute writes, 

“After Saturday’s tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que., it is time to speed up the approval of new pipeline construction in North America. Pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas, and we need more of them, without delay.”

No kidding, Furchgott-Roth wants no more delay in the Keystone XL pipeline, since she has been advocating on behalf of the oil industry in one form or another for more than 25 years, with stints as an economist at the American Petroleum Institute and the oil industry-backed American Enterprise Institute. 

Working for oil company front groups is one thing, but using the tragedy still unfolding in Quebec to argue for more oil pipelines is a whole new level of low.

Wed, 2013-06-26 09:43Kevin Grandia
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Is Obama's Faith in Carbon Capture a Technicolor Dream?

obama climate change 2013

President Obama's climate action announcement yesterday relies heavily on carbon capture and storage technology eventually paying off as a commercially viable option. But carbon capture and storage (or CCS) continues to be more of a dream than reality. And a very expensive dream at that.

According to a database maintained at MIT's Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies program, there are currently six large scale CCS projects underway in the United States. Five of the six projects are still in the planning phase, with one project listed as under construction. The current projected price tag of these six projects is a whopping $16.7 billion.

That's a lot to gamble on a risky technology that continues to struggle to prove it's even possible to deploy on a global scale. And $16.7 billion is only the opening bet. A full scale deployment of CCS technology across the entire US would likely be in the hundreds of billions. Estimates run as high as $1.5 trillion a year to deploy and operate enough carbon capture and storage worldwide to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the fossil fuels we consume.

President Obama announced his administration would make $8 billion available in loan guarantees for the development of enhanced fossil energy projects, which includes CCS technology. 

In a follow-up announcement today, the Interior department and the US Geological Survey released “the first-ever detailed national geologic carbon sequestration assessment.”

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