The Oceans v. EPA

Out of sight, out of mind,” is a pithy saying that aptly sums up the attitude most industrialized countries have toward ocean acidification. While there has been much (justified) hand-wringing about the terrestrial impacts of climate change, policymakers have largely ignored the threats posed by acidic seas – which are considerable.

For one, ocean acidification could wipe out a significant fraction of the world’s coral reefs – perhaps even all of them – by mid-century if we don’t curb our emissions. In late 2007, 17 marine biologists co-authored a review article in Science in which they warned that, under a worst-case emissions scenario (450 – 500 ppm and a temperature increase larger than 5.4°C), all reefs could disappear, taking up to half of all marine life with them.

The Fantasy of "Green Bitumen"

The petro state of Alberta has outdone itself again. The Canadian province best known as home of the tar sands recently named former Syncrude executive Eric Newell to head up a multi-million provincial climate change fund. With no apparent irony, the province apparently felt that someone from the industry with the fastest growing emissions in Canada would be the best choice for this high profile job.

Newell now becomes president of the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp, a provincial government scheme where companies that release more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year are supposed to reduce their intensities by 12% or pay $15 per tonne above their target.

The OMB-EPA Kerfuffle That Wasn't

Is the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) deliberately trying to sabotage the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions? Is Peter Orszag, the agency’s brainy and genial director, secretly in cahoots with Republican opponents of President Obama’s climate policies?

Not quite – though that may have been your first impression upon reading the raft of articles published yesterday that breathlessly reported that an OMB memo had strongly criticized the EPA’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases.

Carbon Tax Wins: Cheap Politics Loses in B.C. Election

The only government in North America to implement a carbon tax to fight climate change has been re-elected handily in British Columbia.

Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell introduced a carbon tax in February 2008 and launched it officially in July, regardless that the introduction date coincided with the highest oil prices in history. The Premier, surprisingly, held his ground, The left-leaning (and traditionally environmentally conscious) New Democratic Party on the other hand opted to attack the tax, characterizing it as an unfair effort to pick the pockets of the poor. She campaigned on a promise to “axe the tax.”

On Tuesday, British Columbians said, loudly, that they couldn’t believe her. The carbon tax stands; Carole James falls.

The Stephen Harper War on Climate Science

The government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper just appointed two “climate skeptics” with connections to the oil industry to important federal scientific bodies. The scientific community is appalled.

Mark Mullins, Executive Director of the right wing Fraser Institute has just been installed on the board of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which funds university research projects including studies on climate change.

The Fraser Institute has a long history of unethical tactics around the so-called climate debate. Desmog blog readers will remember their ham handed attempts to discredit the largest peer-review exercise in scientific history, including a video targeted at youth. They have so-far received $120,000 from ExxonMobil.

Mullins (trained as an economist) makes no bones about his understanding of climate science: “the climate-change issue is somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.” You can listen to his entire wacky podcast here.

Besides his complete lack of scientific expertise, his obvious political bias and of course potential conflict with his current employer, Mullins does have one significant qualification important to the Harper government: his was a former policy advisor for Harper’s former party, the Canadian Alliance.

The other jaw-dropping intervention in the Canadian scientific community was the appointment of Harper’s “best friend” and climate denier John Weissenberger to the board of Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds large research projects.

This is the second time that Harper picked a plum for his old buddy. In 2007, he appalled political observers by quietly appointing Weissenberger to be chief of staff to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

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