climate change

What’s In The Recycled Oil Field Wastewater Sprayed On California Crops?

“You can't find what you don't look for,” UC Berkeley researcher Seth B.C. Shonkoff recently told the LA Times, referring to the chemicals that state regulators don’t know to test for in the recycled wastewater the California oil industry sells for use on crops here in the top agricultural producing state in the US.

Chevron produces more than 10 times as much water as it does oil at its Kern River oil field in California’s Central Valley, for instance — 760,000 barrels of water a day versus 70,000 barrels of oil. Half of that water is treated and sold to the Cawelo Water District in Bakersfield, which mixes it with fresh water and sells it exclusively to farmers.

Nobody knows if that water contains chemicals from fracking or other extreme oil extraction techniques, because the companies aren't required to test for them before selling the water. Nobody knows what those chemicals are, anyway, because companies aren't required to make that information public.

Charles Koch Admits Climate Change is Happening, Then Denies the Problem

As the nation warily watches every Republican presidential candidate kiss the ring of billionaire donor Charles Koch for a shot at his network's $300,000,000 pool of presidential cash, Charles Koch did something unusual. Last week's USA Today interview with Charles Koch noted his shifting opinion on what he calls climate change “hysteria:”

For the record, Koch says this of climate change: “You can plausibly say that CO2 has contributed” to the planet's warming, but he sees “no evidence” to support “this theory that it's going to be catastrophic.”

Wait…Charles Koch just accepted that the planet is warming? Hold your applause.

Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar

Anthony “Tony” Podesta began lobbying in late 2013 on behalf of a company co-owned by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum aiming to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the global market. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, former top climate change adviser to President Barack Obama and current top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid for president

In October 2012, Podesta Group began lobbying on behalf of the proposed ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum Golden Pass LNG facility in Sabine Pass, Texas, according to lobbying disclosure forms. The forms indicate that Tony Podesta himself, not just his staff, lobbied on behalf of the terminal beginning in quarter four of 2013.

Voters More Likely To Accept Climate Change Warnings When The Room is Warm – Behaviour Scientist

The way people vote can depend on much more than just the issues being debated scientists have found.

Several studies have shown that subtle psychological cues can be just as effective at influencing voter decisions as what political parties promise in speeches and manifestos.

Nick Chater, professor of behaviour science at Warwick Business School, recently revealed on BBC Radio 4 programme The Human Zoo, just how easily voters can be swayed by things as simple as a dead plant in the room, the weather outside or a politician’s appearance.

I spoke with Chater (pictured below) about how a voter’s understanding of climate change can be influenced and the implications this holds during an election.

Inoculating Against Climate Science Denial

This is a guest post by John Cook, The University of Queensland.

Science denial has real, societal consequences. Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS led to more than 330,000 premature deaths in South Africa. Denial of the link between smoking and cancer has caused millions of premature deaths. Thanks to vaccination denial, preventable diseases are making a comeback.

Denial is not something we can ignore or, well, deny. So what does scientific research say is the most effective response? Common wisdom says that communicating more science should be the solution. But a growing body of evidence indicates that this approach can actually backfire, reinforcing people’s prior beliefs.

More Than 10,000 Enroll In Free University Course To Debunk Climate Science Denial

More than 10,000 people from 150 countries have signed up for a free online university course that aims to explain the science of climate science denial and give the public the best tools to fight misinformation.

The course, from the University of Queensland in Australia, has recruited some of the world’s leading climate scientists, along with psychologists, science historians and even world famous natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough, who all gave interviews for Denial101x.  Course instructors include scientists and contributors to the Skeptical Science website.

John Cook, course developer, instructor and Climate Communication Fellow at the university’s Global Change Institute, told DeSmogBlog the seven-week course would explain everything from the fundamentals of climate change science, to the techniques used by climate science deniers and the psychologies of denial.

He hopes the course will help to “close the consensus gap” – the chasm between the 97 per cent of expert scientists who accept that humans are causing climate change and members of the public, politicians and media commentators who still reject the science. 

Sceptic Lilley Swamped With Letters Demanding Climate Action

Climate ‘lukewarmist’ Peter Lilley has been inundated with heartfelt pleas from his constituents – including schoolchildren – requesting action on climate change and renewable energy, a DeSmog UK investigation reveals.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Conservative MP and senior non-executive board member of Tethys Petroleum has received at 46 letters since Nov 2012 related to energy, the environment and climate change. 

There is only one instance among the 46 letters where a constituent echoes Lilley’s sceptic views on climate change and renewable energy.

How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?

When California Governor Jerry Brown issued mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history, he notably excluded the agriculture and oil industries from the conservation efforts, a decision that was heavily criticized.

The oil industry, for its part, insists it is a responsible user of water. The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, for instance, wrote that “Oil companies are doing their part to conserve, recycle and reduce the water they use to produce oil and refine petroleum products.”

Some perspective is certainly needed here: the amount of water used to produce oil in California is, in fact, dwarfed by the amount used for agriculture. But the thing is, the state can’t make any fully informed decisions about whether or not to include oil development in water cuts because no one knows exactly how much water the California oil industry is using in the first place. That all changes on April 30, however.

Last September, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1281, which requires companies to make quarterly reports to state regulators at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) detailing the source and volume of water — whether fresh, treated, or recycled — used during oil development processes, including extreme oil extraction methods like fracking, acidization and steam injection. The first set of data required to be reported to DOGGR under SB 1281 is due at the end of the month.

Required reporting on water usage is an important first step in devising an effective water conservation plan for drought-wracked California, Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, tells DeSmogBlog.

“Without good data, we can’t have good policy,” Gleick says. “And it’s long overdue that the oil industry be transparent about water use and water quality. So I’m looking forward to more transparency.”

Mary Robinson, UN Envoy: Climate Agenda Makes 2015 the ‘Most Important Year Since 1945’

Mary Robinson, the United Nations envoy on climate change, warns that the transition away from fossil fuels must happen immediately to achieve climate justice.

I am struck by the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt, and her commission, who drew up the Declaration of Human Rights – a declaration adopted by every country in the world – never imagined that human-induced climate change might force whole countries to go out of existence.

We’re not on course for a safe world for millions of people and, even more seriously, for their children and grandchildren. We urgently need to change course and catalyse a transformation in the way we develop, the way we live, the way we do business.

Our current system is flawed and unsustainable and if it continues the world is on course for catastrophic climate change and vast inequality.

Maryland To Become Latest State To Adopt Community Solar Legislation

Following the lead of ten other states that have already adopted similar legislation, Maryland lawmakers this week passed two bills that aim to create community solar projects and increase access to clean energy in the state.

The bills, which still must be signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, would launch a three-year pilot project to allow the state to assess the benefits of community solar and establish best practices.

Though the sun falls everywhere, access to solar energy is not universal. According to non-profit group Vote Solar, more than 75 percent of US homes and businesses can’t install a solar system on their property, because their roof isn’t suitable or they rent their home or office, among other barriers.

Community solar allows multiple people to pool their resources and invest in or subscribe to a shared solar energy system.

“Community solar will enable all Marylanders to generate renewable solar energy,” Maryland Delegate Luke Clippinger, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and sponsor of one of the bills, says in an Earthjustice press release. “Solar is no longer a potential future prospect for energy generation here in Maryland, it is the here and now.”

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