fossil fuels

Burning Fossil Fuels is Responsible for Most Sea-Level Rise Since 1970

By Aimée Slangen, Utrecht University and John Church, CSIRO

Global average sea level has risen by about 17 cm between 1900 and 2005. This is a much faster rate than in the previous 3,000 years.

The sea level changes for several reasons, including rising temperatures as fossil fuel burning increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a warming climate, the seas are expected to rise at faster rates, increasing the risk of flooding along our coasts. But until now we didn’t know what fraction of the rise was the result of human activities.

In research published in Nature Climate Change, we show for the first time that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of sea level rise since the late 20th century.

As the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere continues to increase, we need to understand how sea level responds. This knowledge can be used to help predict future sea level changes.

Calls For Permanent Closure of Aliso Canyon NatGas Storage Facility As Californians Face Blackouts

Last week, California regulators and Southern California Gas Company, which operates the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, issued a report warning that a continued shutdown of the facility, the site of the worst methane leak in state history, would lead to blackouts throughout the summer.

The regulators and the company have proposed restarting gas injections into the Aliso Canyon facility in the coming weeks, but Porter Ranch area residents — 1,800 of whom had to be evacuated due to health impacts of the methane leak — are challenging the report’s findings and calling for permanent closure of Aliso Canyon, one of the largest gas storage facilities in the US.

Aliso Canyon has been shut down since January. The leak started in October of last year. Two and a half months later, Governor Jerry Brown finally declared a state of emergency, but it would take SoCalGas, as the company is known, another month and a half to finally stop the leak.

Activists To Stage Mass Civil Disobedience In Nation’s Capital This Week

This week, thousands of Americans sick and tired of big money in politics and unfair voting laws are descending on the nation’s capital, ready to go to jail, if necessary, for their cause.

Some just arrived from a ten-day, 140-mile march that began in Philadelphia on April 2. Many others joined on Monday morning in Washington, D.C., kicking off a week of rallies and sit-ins at the Capitol building and its grounds while demanding that Congress take action to curb big money in politics and institute free and fair elections. Over 3,500 people have confirmed that they’re ready to risk arrest.

The Democracy Spring network of over 100 groups is demanding that Congress pass four bills to restore protections against voting discrimination, expand voting accessibility, overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and match small political contributions with public funds. The activists also want Congress to hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Oil Giants Spend $114m to Obstruct Climate Policy, But That’s Just the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

Despite the recent Paris Agreement on global warming, the fossil fuel industry is still systematically trying to stall progress, and using shareholder funds to do so,” warns a new report by London non-profit organisation InfluenceMap.

According to InfluenceMap’s research, last year international oil giants ExxonMobil and Shell, along with three powerful industry trade associations, spent US$114 million (£80.8m) in an effort to obstruct climate legislation.

These millions were spent on a range of activities including PR, social media, advertising, and lobbying, in order to influence American and European policy makers and manipulate public discourse on climate change.

Big Oil Hosts Conference to Promote Deepwater Drilling Despite High Costs and Paris Climate Deal

Oil and gas industry giants gathered this week in Pau, an historic city in southwest France, to discuss the future of deepwater drilling.

Over the course of the three-day MCE Deepwater Development (MCEDD) conference hosted by Total and sponsored by Shell, hundreds of industry professionals focused on how to cut costs during a time of record-low oil prices.

As Total described in a letter announcing the annual conference: “Our common objective is to reduce costs significantly in order for deepwater to remain competitive.”  

Naomi Oreskes: A New Form of Climate Denialism is at Work in Canada

No one has a better handle on the effect climate deniers have on the socio-political stage than science historian and author Naomi Oreskes.
 
Her book Merchants of Doubt charts the path of many of the world’s most notorious deniers, skeptics, shills, PR men and experts-for-hire. Plus, as a trained historian and professor of earth and environmental sciences at Harvard, Oreskes has the ability to take a 10,000-foot view when it comes to climate politics and the turning tide of public opinion.
 
Oreskes recently visited Vancouver to discuss climate change and climate denial in Canada at a talk organized by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  
 
For Oreskes, understanding how climate denial is active in places like Canada involves acknowledging the expansiveness of climate change as an issue, one that cuts across boundaries between government, society and market power.
 
We asked Oreskes what she makes of Canada’s current political situation — a situation in which our  prime minister announces impressive climate targets on the world stage but then quietly approves B.C.’s first LNG export terminal on a Friday afternoon.
 
“Of course there is a long road ahead,” Oreskes said. “[Climate change] is a very big issue that reaches into economics, politics and culture.”

Where Do The Remaining Presidential Candidates Stand On Climate Issues?

We are now officially through half of the United States Presidential election primary and caucus season, and there are currently 5 contenders left in the Republican and Democratic parties vying for their party’s respective nomination. Delegate math shows that Governor John Kasich has no chance to become the Republican nominee, so we’re left with four real candidates to examine.
 
The differences between the candidates of the two major parties could not be greater. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates who proudly embrace science and agree that action on climate issues is sorely needed. On the Republican side, both of the remaining candidates reject the scientific consensus and instead argue that climate change is nothing more than a series of unfortunate weather events.
 
It is important to remember that acceptance of climate science is not necessarily limited to one political party. Recent polls show that majorities of voters within both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as Independent voters) accept that climate change is real and that human activity is a contributing factor. The discrepancy between the desires of voters and the views of the candidates can best be seen in the contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which will be described in detail later.
 
As for the candidates remaining in the race, only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump lacks a record to verify his statements on climate change. But judging on his statements alone, he will not be a friend to the environment if he secures the nomination and subsequently wins the White House.

More Money Invested in Renewable Energy in 2015 Than New Fossil Fuel Power Projects

A record US$367 billion was invested in renewable energy in 2015, according to a new report out today by the Clean Energy Canada initiative of the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University.

Renewables investment increased by seven percent since 2014, with China, the US, and Japan representing more than half of the total investment last year, shows the report.

The report also finds that for the first time, more money was invested in clean energy than in new power from fossil fuel ($253bn).

New Report Identifies The Fossil Fuels We Must Keep In The Ground To Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

California Offshore Oil Fracking Permits Halted While Federal Government Performs Environmental Review

The U.S. federal government will stop approving offshore oil fracking operations off California’s coast while it studies how damaging the practice is to the health of wildlife and the environment.

In separate deals with Santa Barbara, CA-based Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to assess the risks posed by well-stimulation techniques such as fracking and acidization when used on oil platforms off California’s coast.

Documents obtained by EDC following a 2013 Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the controversial well stimulation techniques were used on offshore platforms, while federal regulators had no idea where or how frequently the practices were employed.

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