DesmogBlog Breaks DSCOVR Story in Nature

DesmogBlog was contacted this month by Nature – the most prestigious science journal in the world  – about our latest posting on the Deep Space Climate Observatory

It seems their editors were interested in the news we broke that the Air Force was considering launching this $100 million mothballed spacecraft – minus the Earth observing instruments.

Last week they published an 800 word article based on information we provided to them about this bizarre story.

Alas, our extensive research on the DSCOVR mission was not mentioned in the Nature article, but such is the lot of a blogger.

More importantly, the exposure provided by this piece in one of the premier journals in the world will hopefully light a fire under NASA to not to kill this vital mission.

Climate Change: It's Worse than You Think

Even if you aren’t a dyed in the wool environmentalist, it’s hard not to feel at least somewhat giddy at the prospects of what an Obama presidency could do for climate change.

During the electoral campaign, Obama repeatedly said that he would consider climate change and energy two of his administration’s top priorities. When pressed on the urgency of the economic crisis and the yawning federal deficit, he refused to buckle – arguing that the climate crisis was too critical an issue to kick down the road again.

In the wake of his memorable speech at the Global Climate Summit, only a hardened cynic would dismiss his climate advocacy as an opportunistic campaign ploy.

And, with the recent elevation of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (replacing long-serving Rep. John Dingell, the notoriously pro-Detroit, regulation-leery Democrat), there’s reason to believe President-elect Obama’s first term could see significant progress on this front.

Putting Global Warming Laggards on Trial

Ballsy.

That is perhaps best word to describe a class action lawsuit filed this week in the International Criminal Court in The Hague in Holland against national governments refusing to act on reducing carbon emissions.

The suit was filed by climate activist Danny Bloom who is asking for “US$1 billion dollars in damages on behalf of future generations of human beings on Earth - if there are any”

No Joke

Could Falling Oil Prices Stall Oil Sands?

Finally, some good news: The global economic slowdown might curb runaway carbon emissions in Northern Alberta’s oil sands—at least temporarily.

Oil dipped below $50 a barrel this week for the first time since May 2005, and according to a report in Thursday’s New York Times,

“some analysts predict oil could fall to $30 to 40 a barrel as the world economy worsens.”

That $30 is a magic number for many energy economists, who for years have argued that Alberta’s oil sands projects are only viable when petroleum is trading above it.

Taken together, the mining and processing megaprojects represent Canada’s leading source of the heat-trapping carbon emissions that cause global warming. According to Pembina Institute estimates, by year end the operations will have released around 46 million metric tonnes of equivalent carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere.

But there are already signs that the machinery may be slowing.

The Vancouver Sun notes that the ongoing market slide has placed a de facto “moratorium” on development in the oil sands.

Revving the Climate Policy Engine

All the pieces seem to be falling into place this week.

Even as renewable energy stocks continued to plummet along with the rest of the market—the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Index, which seeks to represent the industry, has declined 37 percent this year—we’re finally seeing some striking signals that at last things will be different when it comes to climate and energy policy.

As recently as last week, my colleague Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote here that while we’re on the verge of a sea change, it was still unclear precisely how the incoming Obama administration would move on global warming.

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