climate change

Fri, 2015-01-16 04:00Carol Linnitt
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DeSmogCAST 8: Oilsands Tailings Ponds, UK Drilling Imperative and Skeptics vs. Deniers

DeSmogCAST

In today's January 15, 2015 episode DeSmogCAST host Farron Cousins joins DeSmoggers Carol Linnitt, Kyla Mandel, and Mike Gaworecki to discuss Canada's efforts to prevent a NAFTA-led investigation into the management of Alberta's oilsands tailings ponds.

We also discuss a clause in the UK's new Infrastructure Bill that mandates efforts to “maximize economic recovery of UK petroleum” and what that means for the nation's climate policy.

Lastly we discuss recent developments in the denier/skeptics debate and a recent open letter to media, calling on journalists to reserve the favourable term 'skeptic' for those engaged in truly scientific critical investigation.

Thu, 2015-01-15 00:39Kyla Mandel
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Duty to Maximise Oil and Gas a ‘Dangerous Addition’ to the Infrastructure Bill

The UK’s climate change ambition will be undermined if the duty to maximise oil and gas extraction is included in the Infrastructure Bill, argue environmental NGO, Friends of the Earth and non-profit environmental law organisation, ClientEarth.

Clause 36 will introduce a new legal obligation on current and future governments regarding “maximising economic recovery of UK petroleum”. This puts the bill in direct conflict with Britain’s target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

Clause 36 is not consistent with the spirit of the Climate Change Act and the UK in the context of global action on meeting climate change targets and should be deleted,” Friends of the Earth said in evidence to the Public Committee for the Infrastructure Bill.

Wed, 2015-01-14 00:01Brendan Montague
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Rio Earth Summit: From Red Scare to Green Scare

Once heralded as a clear turning point, government participation at the Rio Earth Summit’s would soon be seen as more symbolic than effective. The DeSmog UK epic history series continues.

The Rio Earth Summit in July 1992 was celebrated by environmentalists as the clearest sign that the world's leaders would support limits to carbon emissions and literally save the world from the imminent catastrophe of climate change.

George Bush Snr, the Republican president, oil millionaire and former CIA director, signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that summer with the promise that he would ensure the document would become “concrete action to protect the planet”.

Tue, 2015-01-13 10:26Carol Linnitt
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DeSmogCAST 7: Obama's Keystone Veto, U.S. Oil Exports and the World's Unburnable Carbon

In this episode of DeSmogCAST our team discusses Obama's recent promise to veto legislation put forward by a Republican-led Congress to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the fate of Keystone remains uncertain, the Obama Administration made changes in the final days of 2014 that now allows for the export of U.S. crude oil. As Justin Mikulka reports, the change doesn't lie in a newly passed bill but rather in a language game used to mask the difference between crude oil and condensate

Finally we take a look at a new study recently published in Nature that analyzes the globe's total carbon reserves and pinpoints those that must remain unburned if we are to stay within the 2 degrees Celsius warming limit recommended by scientists and policy makers. That study highlights the Canadian oilsands and almost all coal reserves in the U.S. as carbon deposits that must remain in the ground in a carbon-constrained future.

Tue, 2015-01-13 06:00Mike Gaworecki
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Calls For Media To Accurately Label Climate Deniers Growing Louder

The public debate over how to address climate change has been hindered in no small part by the media’s refusal to properly identify climate deniers, according to an open letter penned by fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry titled “Deniers are not Skeptics.”

Now, campaign group Forecast the Facts is making an open appeal to the media to accurately label climate deniers, enabling supporters of the CSI effort to co-sign the letter, which so far has garnered over 20,000 signatures.

The open letter, released last month, was signed by nearly 50 scientists and skeptics, including physicist Mark Boslough, science writer Ann Druyan, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, who say that public understanding of global warming science has been “confused” because of the misuse of the term “skeptic.”

“As scientific skeptics, we are well aware of political efforts to undermine climate science by those who deny reality but do not engage in scientific research or consider evidence that their deeply held opinions are wrong,” they wrote. “The most appropriate word to describe the behavior of those individuals is ‘denial.’ Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry.”

Wed, 2015-01-07 15:39Guest
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George Will’s Incorrect Claim on Historical Climate Change

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus.

Syndicated columnist George Will's latest piece, “Climate change's instructive past” is more carefully written than previous columns (see Media Matters Misinformer of the Year), but it still requires correction. Contrary to his claim, past changes in our climate should be understood as a warning, but shouldn’t be seen as evidence that current climatic change is naturally occurring, as he suggests.

The problem with this claim is that human-made emissions have increased exponentially since Will’s historical examples.  Science has clearly shown how current human-made climate change is very different from earlier slower natural changes, something Will failed to factor.

More accurately, historical climate change provides insight into problems we can expect in the future as greenhouse gases are increasingly amplifying variations in our climate. Historical trends should, instead, serve as a stark warning of what we can expect from the emission-driven warming we’re experiencing now.

Tue, 2015-01-06 04:00Mike Gaworecki
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California Governor Proposes Most Ambitious Renewable Energy Target In U.S.

California Governor Jerry Brown used the occasion of his fourth inaugural address to propose an ambitious new clean energy target for the state: 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“We are at a crossroads,” Brown said in announcing the proposal, according to Climate Progress. “The challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative.”

Already the leader in installed solar capacity and third when it comes to wind power, the Golden State had previously adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard mandate to procure 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, a goal it was easily on pace to meet.

Environmentalists were quick to applaud Governor Brown’s 50% by 2030 proposal, which would give California the most ambitious renewable energy target of any US state, eclipsing Hawaii’s 40% by 2030 target.

But given the current growth rate of California’s renewable sector, even 50% by 2030 might not end up being that ambitious, according to Abigail Dillen, Vice President of Climate and Energy for Earthjustice.

Fri, 2014-12-26 18:31Mike De Souza
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Canadian Government: This Reporter's Question About ALEC 'Undeserving of Response'

ALEC light brigading

This article is re-published with permission from mikedesouza.com

As some of you may know, I’ll be starting a new role in January 2015 as an investigative resources correspondent for Reuters.

Getting access to records about government decisions and policies has long played a key role in the work of many journalists around the world. It will also be a key element for me in the weeks, months and years to come.

So to end off 2014, here are a few examples of some of my recent experiences with government efforts to either release or hide information.

Canada’s information watchdog has noted that the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes access to information as a quasi-constitutional right of all Canadians.

Obtaining access to information is an extension of freedom of expression since it allows the population to be informed and speak about government policies and decisions on how these governments spend public money.

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:26Mike Gaworecki
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What Americans Don’t Know About Climate Change Could Be Really Bad For Their Health

When it comes to the health impacts of global warming, Americans are woefully uninformed.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, only about one in four can even name a health problem associated with global warming that their fellow Americans might be suffering from.

Only 14% of Americans are aware of one of the most obvious health impacts of all the global warming pollution that has been dumped into our atmosphere: respiratory problems like asthma and other lung diseases. A mere 6% make the connection between illness, injury, and death resulting from extreme weather events and climate change.

Less than 5% of Americans could name any of the other consequences to human health from global warming.

Perhaps that’s no surprise, given that the survey also found 70% of Americans have given “little or no thought” to how global warming could affect human health in the first place.

Tue, 2014-12-16 05:00Mike Gaworecki
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Newspapers Complicit In Selling Phony “War On Coal”

U.S. newspapers are helping conservatives push their misleading “war on coal” narrative, according to a new report.

There are a number of reasons why the tide has turned against the coal industry around the globe. Mining and burning coal for energy poses huge risks for human health and the environment, for instance, mainly due to the vast amounts of air and water pollution created throughout coal’s lifecycle.

Then of course there’s the fact that coal is the single largest source of global warming pollution—while coal-fired power represents only 39% of all electricity generated in the U.S, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is responsible for 75% of carbon emissions.

And of course the health of coal miners and the safety of mining operations is a cause for concern, as well. The indictment of coal baron Don Blankenship is proof enough of that—a U.S. attorney recently pressed conspiracy charges against Blankenship for violating federal mine safety and health standards and impeding federal mine safety officials, among other offenses committed before and after the explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010 that took the lives of 29 workers.

If you need more proof, there was a study conducted this year that found a severe form of black lung is affecting miners in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia at levels not seen in four decades.

But it’s not just the dangers of the job that are driving coal miners out of work: greater automation in coal mining operations and the rise of cheap, abundant natural gas thanks to fracking have also taken a heavy toll on the coal industry.

Yet a Media Matters analysis of the 233 articles published in major U.S. newspapers this year that mentioned the phrase “war on coal” found that more than half ignored all of these underlying causes of the coal industry’s decline.

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