Wednesday, February 28, 2007

China's New Water & Pollution Measures

Proving that there is no greater impetus for environmental protection than human need, China announced a raft of aggressive new measures to help reverse the ecological damage occurring alongside the nation's unprecedented economic growth.

New policies include an extensive water-saving plan to cut the nation’s water use per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent within five years, a new climate change plan aimed chiefly at mitigating future water supply shortages, and a policy to make provincial officials directly responsible for environmental harm.

Food security, global warming related water shortages and rising pollution levels were all cited as key concerns in bringing forward the new measures.

Now if we could get North Americans to similarly see the connection between environment and human health we'd really be on to something.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

London's Leadership

In a week of big announcements and bold plans to tackle climate change, the city of London has thrown its hat into the ring. Today, Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled a detailed plan to slash carbon emissions by 60% within 20 years and place the city at the forefront of the battle against climate change.

In introducing the plan, Livingstone said "All of us have a responsibility, actions taken at an individual level can have consequences that are unacceptable for society as a whole. Buying a gas-guzzling 4x4 vehicle is an 'individual choice' but it creates carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and harm everyone. It should be no more socially acceptable than to claim the right to dump rubbish in the street."

Specifics of the plan address domestic and commercial space, transportation and energy supply.

Domestic

  • Up to 50% subsidies on insulation - free for homes on benefits - to target the 1.4m houses without proper insulation
  • A "concierge service" costing £50 to £200 including an audit of a household and full management of the conversion to a greener lifestyle
  • Green homes scheme to build on work of groups like the Energy Saving Trust


Commercial
  • Promotion of projects to encourage energy efficiency and minimise waste; recognition of firms doing the most

Transport
  • "Green consultants" to encourage cycling and use of public transport
  • Promotion of fuel-efficient cars


Energy supply

  • Encouragement of combined heat and power schemes for schools, hospitals and housing developments. London wants to generate a quarter of its electricity this way by 2025

The announcement represents a part of a larger movement among municipalities in the UK, as close to 200 local governments have now signed the Nottingham Declaration - a pledge to take action against global warming.

BC Energy Plan Released

Two weeks ago, the Government of BC announced a bold new vision that would reduce the province's greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020. Today, the BC Government released its updated Energy Plan, which will guide provincial energy policy and provide much of the details for how the that aggressive goal will be met.

Topping the list of announcements is an ambitious target to acquire 50 per cent of BC Hydro’s incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020. The government's press release also promises bold new strategies in 4 key policy areas:

1. Environmental Leadership:

  • All new electricity projects developed in B.C. will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Existing thermal generation power plants will reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.
  • Zero greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation.
  • Clean or renewable electricity generation will continue to account for at least 90 per cent of total generation, placing the province’s standard among the top jurisdictions in the world.
  • Eliminate all routine flaring at oil and gas producing wells and production facilities by 2016 with an interim goal to reduce flaring by half (50 per cent) by 2011.
  • The best coalbed gas practices in North America. Companies will not be allowed to surface discharge produced water, and any re-injected produced water must be injected well below any domestic water aquifer.

2. Energy Conservation and Efficiency:

  • An ambitious target to acquire 50 per cent of BC Hydro’s incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020.
  • New energy efficiency standards will be determined and implemented for buildings by 2010.

3. Energy Security:

  • Government has committed the province will be electricity self-sufficient by 2016.
  • To encourage small B.C. Clean or high efficiency cogeneration, BC Hydro is establishing a standing offer program with a set purchase price for power projects up to 10 megawatts.
  • Public ownership of BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corporation.
  • BC Hydro and the Province will enter into initial discussions with First Nations, the Province of Alberta and communities to discuss Site C.

4. Investing in Innovation:

  • The new $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund will encourage the development of clean energy and energy efficient technologies in the electricity, alternative energy, transportation and oil and gas sectors.
  • The new BC Bioenergy Strategy will take advantage of B.C.’s abundant sources of renewable energy, such as beetle-killed timber, wood wastes and agricultural residues.
More details to come as I take the next couple days to read through the Energy Plan as a whole. Eager readers can sift through the pdf file themselves at this link.

5 Western States Join to Fight Global Warming

The governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington have banded together in a new effort to fight global warming. Citing a lack of federal leadership as a major factor, the five states promise to create a regional target for reducing greenhouse gases within six months, a mechanism for meeting that target within 18 months, and create a five-state registry for tracking and managing greenhouse gas emissions.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said a so-called cap-and-trade program, which lets companies that can't meet their emission reduction targets buy credits from those that reduce carbon dioxide, would provide "a powerful framework for developing a national cap-and-trade program. ... This agreement shows the power of states to lead our nation addressing climate change."


Called the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, the agreement builds on earlier efforts by several states. It may also come to include additional agreements with other governments, particularly the province of British Columbia. During the February 13th speech, the BC government pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 33% by 2020 and forge partnerships with western states to tackle climate change. Governor Schwarzenegger is scheduled to meet BC Premier Gordon Campbell on the issue later this spring.

Tennessee Drudge-A-Muck Over Gore Mansion

I really didn't want to respond to this story, but given all the Google hits I'm getting from associated searches, I opted to throw a voice of reason into the debate.

In what was clearly a pre-planned smear campaign against Al Gore - timed to launch on the heels of An Inconvenient Truth's Oscar win - the right wing think tank the Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported that Al Gore's home consumes 20 times the power as the national average - an assertion that was lasciviously lapped up by Drudge.

Whether or not the figures disclosed by the TCPR are true or not scarcely matters as they are entirely beside the point. In seeking a solution for global warming, the goal is to attain 'carbon neutrality'. For those who failed grade school math (i.e. the people at Drudge) what this means is that you take responsibility for offsetting any greenhouse gases that you produce. If you produce 1 tonne of carbon, you need to do something to ensure 1 tonne is removed from the atmosphere in some other way. Allowing offsetting in this way makes sure that everyone has the ability to reducing their carbon footprint in the most cost effective way. This is precisely what Al Gore does.

Responding to Drudge’s attack, Vice President Gore’s office told ThinkProgress:

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.


Similar efforts have been attempted before. For the a previous high profile smear against Gore see my post - Al Gore Cracks the Conservatives Lies - the false accusations there are bound to crop up again now.

On a more fundamental level, the issue points to a core difficulty westerners have with any good act. Somewhere in our cultural history we drew a very strange line in the sand that in essence says, "You are free from any allegations of wrong doing or immorality, unless you endorse improving a wrong, or the state of the world at large. In that case, you need to be a saint or else you're a hypocrite."

This is diseased mindset that is grows from a culture of unaccountable capitalism that knows no morality and perceives sees any good act as a threat to its survival. There are no perfect people, only best intentions and actions, and Al Gore represents both because he does walk the walk - he lives a carbon neutral life.

More to the point, in the issue of global warming, the time is long past for absurd personal attacks as most of the western world is now moving towards solving this problem. It's time for the far right of the political spectrum to start joining in those solutions.

90 Global Corporations Can't Be Wrong...

...this time anyway.

The leaders of 90 major international corporations and organizations including Citigroup, General Electric, Rolls Royce, and Volvo have issued a joint statement that calls on the world's governments to put a price on carbon emissions, set new targets to reduce them, and enact bold policies to increase energy efficiency.

"Cost-efficient technologies exist today, and others could be developed and deployed, to improve energy efficiency and to help reduce emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in major sectors of the global economy," the statement said. "Research indicates that heading off the very dangerous risks associated with doubling pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2, while an immense challenge, can be achieved at a reasonable cost.

Also adding their voice of support was insurance giant Allianz SE, whose spokesperson said, "we expect it (global warming) to remain a top-tier issue for the insurance industry for many decades to come," and Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum producer insurance company.

"Of course, addressing climate change involves risks and costs. But much greater is the risk of failing to act," said Alain Belda, chairman and CEO of Alcoa, the world's leading producer of aluminum. "I am convinced that we can build a global plan of action on climate change in ways that create more economic opportunities than risks."

In denying global warming, or refusing to do anything about it, the right wing is facing a growingly formidable opposition that now includes financial leaders, the insurance sector, major metal producers, chemical manufacturers, members of the automobile industry, top economists, the combined consensus of the world's scientific community, the environmental community, and certainly not least, the will of the world's citizens.

The fact that larger action against global warming has not taken place already is a testament to one thing - the overwhelming power of the petroleum industry. They and the political leaders they fund remain the world's biggest enemy in solving this problem.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Two Oscars for An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth took home the Oscar for Best Documentary at last night's 79th Annual Academy Awards. The award was received by director Davis Geenheim and producers Lawrence Bender, Laurie David and Scott Burns - but the winners immediately handed the gold statuette to Al Gore, whose vision and drive has propelled the film and the issue of global warming into the forefront of public consciousness.

Onstage, Guggenheim handed the Oscar to Gore, who said, "People all over the world - we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue. We have everything that we need to get started with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource. Let’s renew it."

In total, the film received two Academy Awards with Melissa Ethridge receiving the Best Original Song award for "I Need To Wake Up," the movie's theme song.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Suzuki's Vote for the Environment Tour

David Suzuki is spearheading an ongoing "If You Were Prime Minister" tour that calls on citizens to get involved in the political debate and pledge to "Vote for the Environment" during the next election. This 50-city tour is the biggest of his career, and is aimed at galvanizing public action in the face of rapidly increasing concern for the natural world.

Suzuki promises to take the best environmental solutions to Ottawa, but he's also asking people to send their thoughts directly to Parliament by filling out the "Vote for the Environment" petition. Follow the link to email your thoughts, ideas and concerns directly to the leaders of the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc with one click.

The campaign also features a YouTube group where people can submit their own video clip to the campaign. Below is Rick Mercer's.

The Environment - A Religion of Fact

Having failed in their religious zeal to exorcise global warming from the political and public landscape, the right wing press is now engaging in the ultimate hypocrisy - accusing an environmental community grounded in solid science of being a new religion.

In Canada, this deft and concerted move of spin began in February 12th's cover story from The National Post - Is Environmentalism the New Religion? That the Post is a newspaper whose spin and political bent flows through the lens and judgement of the Christian religion is an irony that is entirely lost on the both the authors and editor of the article. However, their message has had legs, with the following recent print columns following suit:

Eco-pilgrims gather to 'heed the Goracle' - "They came in their hundreds to hear him speak, and even those left standing outside the crowded hall would not be deterred from lingering in the proximity of the Baptist prophet from Tennessee."

Margaret Wente - "Mr. Gore no longer needs the media to spread the word. His documentary has persuaded millions that global warming is the greatest moral challenge in the world today. And now, thousands of disciples, trained at his climate boot camp and armed with their own Power Point presentations, are fanning out to spread the word."

The Washington Times - "Global warming has become the catechism of a new-age religion, with Mr. Gore as its topmost prelate, entitled to cassock, miter, incense and hot holy water. Anyone who dissents risks a session on the rack, as we have lately seen in calls for punishing 'deniers'."

Deniers of global warming are likely screaming in glee at the quotes above, as a sense of vindication and affirmation sweep over their science battered souls. But nothing in the quotes or articles above speaks to the facts of the issue, and like anyone losing an argument all of them resort to attacking the messenger once they find that the message itself is unassailable.

And through this subtle yet deliberate smear, a pattern and disturbing stripe is revealed in our main stream media. That it is the morally justifiable province of the press to mislead the public for its own ends - ends that go past the denial of environmental concern to include defending the corporate bottom line over the health of citizens, withholding fundamental rights from consenting adults, and endorsing the murder of citizens in foreign countries in the name of fear, oil and profit.

If Al Gore does represent a new religion, then it is one founded on rationality over hysteria, on hope for humanity, on care for the planet, and concern for those who will come after us. That is a moral compass worth following and one that can create a better world for us all.

More to the point Gore's message - unlike the religious zeal of the National Post - is grounded in fact. That single point gives him credibility that the Post can't hope for, and it is the most tangible reason why millions are willing to listen to his message.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Celebrities and Environment Groups Join to Save Boreal

A coalition of celebrities and environmental groups is launching a campaign to transform Ontario's boreal forest into a model of sustainable forestry and a global warming solutions. David Suzuki, Robert Bateman, Farley Mowat, Yann Martel, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Harmer have joined with Greenpeace, Forest Ethics, Sierra Legal and NRDC to push Premier Dalton McGuinty into:

1. Creating certainty for industry and benefits for local communities by planning for conservation and development in the boreal forest, and deferring forestry and mining development until that plan is complete;

2. Protecting a significant amount of caribou habitat within boreal forest areas that were allocated to mills that have closed;

3. Committing to keep the billions of tonnes of carbon in the intact boreal forest;

4. Supporting the certification of Ontario's forest practices by the Forest Stewardship Council and instituting a policy to ensure the Ontario government purchase only certified wood products and paper; and

5. Helping to market Ontario's forest products in global markets as sustainably harvested.


The campaign was launched with a formal letter to the Premier and an op-ed co-authored by Bateman, Suzuki and Mowat, which ran in Thursday's Globe & Mail. The campaign is being pitched as a win-win-win solution that provides critical habitat to endangered species like the woodland caribou, makes Ontario a leader in sustainable forestry, and provides a global warming solution. The boreal is one of the largest untouched tracts of forest remaining on the globe, and its unique nature allows it to store 50% more carbon then the best managed industrial forests.

A complete list of the celebrities and environmental groups involved can be seen at the campaign's website - savetheboreal.ca

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tories Embarassed (Again) as Opposition Passes Pro Kyoto Bill

As was the case during an earlier reading in October, the federal Conservatives were embarrassed by opposition parties who successfully banded together to pass a bill forcing the government to meet its international Kyoto commitments. The Liberals, Bloc and NDP all voted in favour of the private member bill, passing it through Parliament by a vote of 161 - 113 Wednesday evening.

The bill, which was introduced 10 months ago by Liberal backbencher Pablo Rodriguez, gives the government 60 days to table a detailed plan outlining how Canada will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill is expected to easily pass through the Liberal dominated Senate and come into full legal force. Once this occurs, the Conservatives could face a potential challenge in the courts or a non-confidence vote in Parliament if they fail to act on it.

Whether or not the Conservatives face these consequences will largely depend on the opposition's desire for an election. However, even if the Conservative minority government is allowed to stand, the bill should at the very least push the Tories towards more aggressive measures to tackle global warming. If they fail to do this much, then the they will run an ever increasing risk of becoming politically irrelevant, as the provinces and the opposition continue to move forward in favour of greater action on climate change.

Either way, the environment and earth conscious Canadians will be the winners thanks to today's events in Ottawa.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blair to Bypass Bush on Climate Change

When he quits power this summer, British PM Tony Blair plans to continue the fight against global warming by bypassing US President Bush and going directly to State governments to bring them onside with European actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Blair has already shown his ability to do exactly this by reaching agreements with California Governor Schwarzenegger earlier last year. Meanwhile, northeastern states are moving forward with their own climate change plans in the face of absent leadership from Washington.

A Record Year for Wind Power

The Global Wind Energy Council has announced that the world's total installed wind capacity reached a new record of 74,223 megawatts in 2006 - a 32% increase over 2005, which was in turn 42% higher than 2004.

Germany continues to lead all countries with 20,621 megawatts, followed by Spain, the US, India and Denmark.

Conservatives Face Defeat on Kyoto

A controversial bill calling for the federal government to honour its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol is about to enter its final reading.

The bill was put forward by the Liberals last year and has the support of all opposition parties, who together have successfully moved the bill forward through its first two reading.

Both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP have pledged to support the Liberal bill, which is designed to force the minority government to meet Canada's Kyoto Protocol obligations.

Despite the Conservatives decrying the bill as a toothless tiger, the bill holds strong implications for government


If it passes its final reading, as its expected to do, the Conservatives would face a publicly embarrassing defeat and may be forced to accept the greenhouse gas limits set forward in the international agreement - something they have been consistently opposed to since coming to power.

The third reading and final reading of the bill takes place tonight.

Suzuki, Schwarzenegger Praise BC's Climate Plan

Gordon Campbell's climate change plan is gaining praise throughout North America, with renowned environmentalist David Suzuki, as well as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lending strong words of support for the Premier's announcements.

“I am pleased that British Columbia has joined the fight against climate change," said Schwarzenegger, "Global warming impacts everyone, and states and nations must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I look forward to meeting with Premier Campbell and working with British Columbia on this critical issue."

The two leaders are set to meet this spring in what is to be the start of a new West Coast green plan to be forged with California, Alaska, Washington and Oregon. According to Campbell's speech, that group would work towards common environmental regulations to control emissions from oceanic resources, container ships and enable the construction of a 'hydrogen highway' from Vancouver to San Diego.

Suzuki's stance was somewhat more staid than Schwarzenegger's. The lifelong scientist and conservationist noted that "the devil would be in the details". A valid point, but don't forget that the Provincial policy on global warming was thrust into a full scale re-write just a couple short months ago.

It would be both irresponsible and impossible to establish all the fine points in that short time. For now, we would do well to accept these initial announcements for what they are - a bold and visionary first step that provides a clear new direction for the Province of BC and provides a road map for bringing greenhouse gas emissions under control.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Campbell Promises Global Warming Action

The Kyoto Treaty, which is now in place, just came into force two years ago this Friday. Little has been done to seriously address this problem which is literally threatening life on Earth as we know it. Since 1997, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to grow here in British Columbia and across Canada. Voluntary regimes have not worked. In 2007, British Columbia will take concerted provincial action to halt and reverse the growth in greenhouse gases.

The government will act now and will act deliberately.


Those were the words of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell during the government's annual throne speech today. In it he outlined a climate change plan for BC that is both visionary and bold, bettering the standards mandated by California while setting explicit targets for government, automobiles and the energy industry. The list of actions is extensive and their scope broad, offering the potential to make BC a national leader in tackling global warming.

Specific actions in the plan include:

- a call to reduce BC's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020. This will place British Columbia's greenhouse gas emissions at 10 per cent under 1990 levels by 2020 with interim targets set for 2012 and 2016 and the establishment of long term targets to 2050.

- a carbon neutral BC government by 2010.

- electricity self-sufficiency for BC by 2016.

- net zero emissions for all new and existing electricity production by 2016.

- reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry to 2000 levels by 2016, including a requirement for zero flaring at producing wells and production facilities.

- at least 90 per cent of the provinces electricity to come from clean, renewable sources.

- an immediate requirement for 100 per cent carbon sequestration in any coal-fired project.

- biomass power generation fueled by trees infested by the mountain pine beetle.

- the elimination of beehive burners in the province.

- mandatory methane capture in landfills, which currently represents nine per cent of B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions.

- establishment of the world's first fleet of 20 fuel cell buses.

- new emission standards for cars phased from 2009 to 2016 including a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide.

- beginning this month, all new cars leased or purchased by the provincial government will be hybrid vehicles.


Campbell also promises a market based approach to develop a carbon trading network with the federal government and other Pacific partners, and plans to work with California to address the climate change impacts from ocean resources and to establish common environmental standards for all Pacific ports.

Critics will likely take aim at one key point. Campbell did not say that his aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets would be legislated into force - something that California did last year. However, for all the criticism the BC Liberals have received for various policies in the past, what they have done is consistently followed through on the explicit promises they make to voters.

The fact today's speech was made in such concrete terms bodes very well for BC's new place as a leader in addressing global warming in Canada.


Monday, February 12, 2007

PM Gives Provinces $1.5 Billion For Clean Air

Prime Minister Harper announced a $1.5 billion dollar trust fund today to be distributed to the provinces and territories for the reduction of pollution and greenhouse gases.

Details on where the money will be directed were sparse, except in the case of Quebec. That province has already implemented a carbon tax, pledged to meet Kyoto targets, and was seeking $328 million from Ottawa to help fund those plans. Harper announced that Quebec's share of the trust would be $350 million.

How the individual provinces translate this money into action remains to be seen; however, we may get a first look tomorrow during the throne speech by BC Premier Gordon Campbell. Campbell is expected to announce a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions with set targets at that time.

Their is speculation that the plan may mirror that implemented by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year, which called for a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. There is also speculation that Campbell may abandon the proposed introduction of coal fired power generation in the province - a move that would be a strong signal of serious action and a good political move. A recent poll showed that 69% of British Columbians opposed coal fired power.

Check back soon for a breakdown of BC's new climate change policy after tomorrow's throne speech.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Good News Friday in Three Parts

The environmental community is a few weeks overdue for some good news. Here are three news items to make you smile heading into the weekend.

1. From the Financial Times, the largest charity concert in history is being planned for July 7th. The theme? Global Warming. The Host? You guessed it, Al Gore.

The event is targeting an audience of 2 billion viewers through a series of coordinated film, music and television events in seven cities including London, Washington DC, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Kyoto. The formal announcement is expected by Mr. Gore today in London. Thanks to Lighter Footstep for the link.

2. Al Gore also checked in with Richard Branson today. Together they launched a $25 million contest with the money awarded to the person who comes up with the best way of removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

A panel of judges will oversee the prize, including James Lovelock and Nasa scientist James Hansen. Needless to say, Sir Richard will be footing the multi-million dollar bill.




3. Finally, British scientists are proposing a new method of carbon storage to help reduce Europe's greenhouse gas emissions.

Their cold storage technique would involve storing carbon in crystal and liquid form in cool, high pressure ocean sediments, and have already identified several potential test sites in Europe.

Link via Hugg.

The Greenest Thing About Baird Is His Tie

Environment Minister John Baird appeared in the House of Commons Thursday to reject the idea of using a carbon tax or the international carbon trading market to reduce Canada's spiraling greenhouse gas emissions. He was, however, wearing a green tie.

Sporting what has become his familiar green tie, Baird appeared Thursday before the House of Commons committee studying the government's proposed clean air act.

Instead, Baird promises to regulate greenhouse gases in all industry by 2010.

This is where I get confused. Since when did the Conservative Party become the NDP of the environment issue? The idea of a conservative philosophy is supposed to be less government, not more. It's supposed to empower individuals and the market economy, not create bureaucracy and red tape. Why then are the Tories backing a global warming approach that invites the greatest possible level of government interference in the free market?

There are two answers. Either they are trying to woo the support of the NDP in order to maintain power in their rapidly crumbling minority, or they figure that regulations are the best way to continue to do nothing - because regulations are easily created and rarely enforced, as has recently been shown here and here.

If the Tories were serious about tackling climate change they would get behind a market driven approach that caps emissions and empowers industry to find the best solutions to meet those caps in the open market. Seeing as they are not doing this, we're left with one of two options 1) either the Conservatives are not green, or 2) the Conservatives are not conservative.

You pick.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Al Gore Speaks at University of Sheffield Today

Al Gore will speak at the University of Sheffield today, as a part of his keynote address to the Cooling the Planet Conference. The event forms the centre point of a week long initiative at the University called Sheffield Is My Planet Week - launched to help bring together members of the general public and the voluntary, public and private sectors and provide information to make South Yorkshire green and encourage energy efficiency.

Visit the Sheffield Is My Planet website for a complete list of events.

A Quick & Dirty Summary of Dirty Bush's Budget

President Bush has sent his latest budget package to Congress. It is a plan that continues to drastically cut funding for the environment while offering half a billion dollars for new nuclear research and development, another half billion for the massive proposed nuclear waste disposal site in Yucca, Nevada, the doubling of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and the leasing of oil and gas rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Environmental programs facing the funding axe include:

- a 40 percent cut, a $98 million reduction, to the Weatherization Assistance Program, which conserves energy by helping low-wage workers and retirees on fixed incomes to insulate their homes.

- $44 million cut from clean water funding.

- a 60% cut to Land and Water Conservation Fund which offers matching grants to States and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.

- a reduction of the endangered species recovery program by 7.5 percent for a $5.5 million cut.

- elimination of the Landowner Incentive and Private Stewardship Grants programs, which help private landowners conserve at-risk wildlife - a $29 million cut.

- $400 million cut from rail travel (Amtrak)

- $4 million cut from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences

- proposals are also tabled to sell up to 950 million acres of federal lands to raise $334 million over 10 years. The money is needed to fund schools in rural areas, which the US can't otherwise afford while spending $195 million a day on the war in Iraq.

All in, Bush's budget cuts appropriated funding for natural resources and the environment by nearly $1.5 billion. The sole winner in the environment was the National Park System, which saw a budget increase of $258 million in preparation for the park system's 100th birthday in 2016.

It's time for the Democrats to earn their pay cheques.

Conflict of Interest at U. of Virginia

Laurie David has posted a pointed letter over at the Huffington Post blog asking the University of Virginia about an apparent conflict of interest involving one of their instructors. Apparently, media outlets are reporting that Dr. Patrick Michaels has accepted $150,000 from coal interests and coal-burning electric utility companies for his advocacy against global warming.

But in the name of fair and balanced reporting, I wanted to offer the following comment posted in reply to her note. It is by far the most succinct, powerful and well informed argument against taking immediate action on global warming that I have heard to date.

WHY GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT A THREAT
by Luke Snowman, professional debunker

Based on my extensive research and on the weighty opinions of Mssrs. Limbaugh, Hannity, and Inhofe, I can here and now state with absolute certainty that global warming poses absolutely no threat to the world.

Why? Simple.

Nature always achieves a balance. Assuming that rising global temperatures are and will continue to lead to rising sea levels, nature will find a way to restore balance.

Here's how: As sea levels rise, the excess water will drip off the edges of the Earth. This dripping water will then cool the sun as it passes underneath the Earth at night.

Problem solved.

Any questions?

Sincerely,

Lukewarm the Snowman

Thanks to Togo of Grand Smials for the find.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fraser Institute Fires Off a Damp Squib

Yesterday, the Exxon funded Fraser Institute released a farcical rebuttal to the UN climate report. For anyone who is still following the issue, or for general fans of oil funded reports like this one, RealClimate has an excellent analysis of the document.

An unofficial, "Independent Summary for Policymakers" of the IPCC Fourth Assessment report has been delivered by the Fraser Institute. It's a long, imposing-looking document, resembling, come to think of it, the formatting of the real Summary for Policymakers document that was released on Friday...The Fraser Institute has assembled an awesome team of 10 authors.

According to the press release, the (Fraser Institute) London kickoff event will be graced by the presence of "noted environmentalist" David Bellamy. It's true he's "noted," but what he's noted for is his blatant fabrication of numbers purporting to show that the world's glaciers are advancing rather retreating, as reported here.

By contrast the official IPCC report drew on the expertise of 2,500 scientific reviewers and 800 authors.

There you have it. Another "market based solution" to an inconvenient truth brought to you by The Fraser Institute. Always available......for the right price.


AEI Denies Bribing Scientists

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is denying that it was prepared to pay global warming skeptics to publish reports that case doubt on the UN climate change report released Friday.

However, Greenpeace obtained a copy of a letter sent out by the AEI making the pitch to a climate scientist in Texas. In the July 5th letter, scholars for the organization wrote:

"As with any large-scale `consensus' process, the IPCC is susceptible to self-selection bias in its personnel, resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent, and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work of the complete... reports."

In addition to the perverse framing above, the letter offered $10,000 for an essay of 7,500 to 10,000 words, in addition to "honoraria" and travel expenses for participation in a series of conferences.

The negative responses from the scientists contacted by the AEI ultimately led them to abandon the project.


Monday, February 05, 2007

$10,000 for Anti-Climate Change Articles

As most now know, the world's foremost body addressing global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released their 4th report this past Friday. The document is the most comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change ever produced and included the input of 600 authors from 40 countries, over 620 expert reviewers, government reviewers, and representatives from 113 governments.

Even more forcefully than in their 2001 report, the findings emphasize that human activity is to blame for massive increases in greenhouse gases and that the earth is facing catastrophic risks from global warming. Specific projections include:

  • Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
  • Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
  • Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of century
  • Increase in heatwaves very likely
  • Increase in tropical storm intensity likely


But despite the overwhelming consensus on the threats we face, and our own blame for them, opponents are still massing resources to try to falsely diminish this scientific work. In addition to the Fraser Institute's upcoming response report, the Guardian and others are reporting that the Exxon funded American Enterprise Institute offered to pay scientists and economists $10,000 a shot for articles that contradict or criticize the IPCC's report. When you've posted the biggest profit in the history of the world, whats a few thousand dollars?

Get ready. More will surely be on the way.

The policy makers summary of the IPCC report can be accessed here.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Fraser Institute Climate Report Leaked

This Friday, the most comprehensive scientific examination of global warming every performed will be released to the public when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unveils their 4th report - a project that took 6 years and includes the input of 2,500 of the world's leading scientists.

But when you are an oil industry funded think tank you don't need to be that thorough. You can just write your criticism in advance.

That is exactly what the Fraser Institute has done. Desmogblog obtained a leaked copy of their "independent summary" of the upcoming IPCC report - a 53 page document critiquing the findings of the IPCC panel despite the fact that the final report has not been released. Organizations like the Fraser Instute would be in an uproar if the IPCC published a summary of document they hadn't read, but right wing wonk tanks care even less about being hypocrites than they do about sound science.

In a more tempered statement Dr. Andrew Weaver, the lead author of the upcoming IPCC report has the Fraser Institute effort "highly ideological".

One doesn't have to guess at the sort of ideology the Fraser Institute brings to their effort. Having received $120,000 in funding from Exxon-Mobil in recent years, the Fraser Institute report offers the best possible analysis of climate change.......from the perspective of their funders.

The full Fraser Institute report can be read here.