Archive for Politics
www.latimes.com 25th January 2013
Texas has lodged a complaint against the neighbouring state of New Mexico with the US Supreme Court this month. Texas claims New Mexico “has been diverting water it is obligated to send downstream under the 75-year-old Rio Grande Compact.” The compact was created in 1938 between Texas, New Mexico and Colorado and established a “formula” for allocating the Colorado river’s water to the various states. Two giant reservoirs, the Elephant Butte and Caballo, were built in New Mexico as a result yet Texas now claims that as many as 2500 wells have been installed below the Elephant Butte diverting water from the river to the underground aquifer. This, says Pat Gordon, Texas’ representative on the Rio Grande Compact Commission, has reduced water for the irrigation network. New Mexico denies the allegations claiming those drawing water from the river actually have water-rights that predate the compact. A prominent water law specialist Charles DuMars seemed to back New Mexico in the dispute when he stated that the compact “only requires that New Mexico deliver a set amount of water into Elephant Butte Reservoir…as to what happens to the river between there and Texas, New Mexico’s water law probably applies, not the compact.”
www.nytimes.com 21st January 2013
In perhaps a surprising move, President Barack Obama put climate change at the forefront of his inaugural speech. Eight whole sentences were devoted to the subject, more than any other. The focus on climate change comes after a comprehensive failure to introduce any legislation on the issue in his first term. This time around, the president plans to use his executive power to avoid opposition by Republicans in the House of Representatives. Climate change was also brought up in election-night speech where he related it directly to the rise of extreme weather. A number of steps will be taken to help the US tackle the issue of greenhouse gases. The main step will be the power given to the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down on emissions from coal power-stations. Another is to increase energy-efficient standards in buildings and home-appliances. A third is to increase the development of public transport. Despite a failure to secure any legislation in his last term, emissions in the US still dipped 10% between 2008 and 2012, a result of the economic slow-down and moves towards energy efficiency by government and industry.
www.e360.yale.edu 11th July 2012
Quoted from source:
“The European Union has introduced strict new auto emissions standards that officials say would cut carbon dioxide emissions by a third by 2020. The new standard, which must be approved by all member states and the European Parliament, would require that new passenger cars emit no more than 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven, compared with 130 grams today, and 147 grams per kilometer for vans. Connie Hedegaard, the European commission’s climate chief, said the new standards would help European automakers compete with foreign manufacturers and cut fuel costs for consumers. According to EU estimates, the average driver would save about €340 in fuel during the first year, and between €2,900 and €3,800 during the lifetime of the vehicle. In addition, the EU predicts it would save about 160 million tons of imported oil. Greenpeace officials, however, called the plan too weak, saying that, among other loopholes, it allows manufacturers to continue producing heavy-emitting vehicles in return for building zero-emitting electric cars, regardless of how many electric vehicles are sold.”
www.bbc.co.uk 22nd June 2012
Quoted from source:
‘On the final day of the UN sustainable development summit in Rio, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged governments to eliminate hunger from the world. The secretary-general said in a world of plenty, no-one should go hungry. The final phase of the summit has seen pledges from countries and companies on issues such as clean energy. But a number of veteran politicians have joined environment groups in saying the summit declaration was “a failure of leadership”. And UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described the outcome as “insipid”. The meeting, marking 20 years since the iconic Earth Summit in the same city and 40 since the very first global environment gathering in Stockholm, was aimed at stimulating moves towards the “green economy”. But the declaration that was concluded by government negotiators on Tuesday and that ministers have not sought to re-open, puts the green economy as just one possible pathway to sustainable development. Mary Robinson, formerly both Irish president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it was not enough. ”This is a ‘once in a generation’ moment when the world needs vision, commitment and, above all, leadership,” she said.’
Treehugger has just posted a series of photographs from the Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection, ca. 1940-1950, from the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh. See a selection of the photographs below. They demonstrate how it is not just modern-day cities such as Beijing, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro that experience severe air pollution. Many cities that have relatively clear skies today such as Chicago, London, and Berlin also used to have dangerous smogs but these were tackled with curbs on emissions and stricter controls on air quality. Let us hope the industrialising nations manage to implement their own restrictions soon. These beautiful yet terrifying images are taken from war-time Chicago. The air quality is much the same as that LMV saw in the Beijing of today.
www.bbc.co.uk 8th April 2012
Denmark has long held ambitions to move away from fossil fuels, ever since the price fluctuations of the 1970s caused widespread economic difficulties in the country. Now a bold initiative, which has cross-party support, has been laid out that would see Denmark have a third of its energy needs from renewable energy by the end of this decade. By 2050, this could rise to 100%. The bold decision has been made for mostly economic reasons, which may explain the broad popularity of the idea throughout the political spectrum. Even the right of centre, pro-business politicians support it. Ms Lykke Friis, a front-bench spokeswoman for the opposition Liberal party, said, “No matter what we do, we will have an increase in the price of energy, simply because people in India and China want to have a car, want to travel. That is why we came out with a clear ambition to be independent of fossil fuels: so we are not vulnerable to great fluctuations in energy price.” Energy production will focus on wind power but will also make the use of solar energy and the burning of biomass. There are certain hurdles that need to be overcome (such as the storage of energy for when there is no sun-shine or wind) but for now Denmark has set out the most ambitious and progressive energy plan in modern history.
As the world’s leaders and scientists meet in Durban this weekend to discuss the end of the Kyoto Protocol and climate change, several nations seem intent on disrupting negotiations. Key among them is the USA who, along with China, Japan, Canada and Russia, has refused point-blank to agree to any new targets on CO2 reductions at the summit. The USA under George Bush rejected the current Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012 and aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 5% compared to 1990 levels, back in 2001 citing the unfairness that the Protocol did not include developing countries such as India and China. Now, with the presidential elections looming, the Obama administration is refusing to agree to a new set of limitations. The stance has led to angry criticisms from many attending the Durban summit including small island nations who are likely to be the worst affected by changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, who played a key role in the original Kyoto negotiations, spoke out against the approach. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Let’s have a reassessment of it by 2015. But if you don’t finish in time for the ending of Kyoto Two, which is next year, 2012, then, you know, it will actually wither on the vine and that’s what Canada and America wants – and one or two other rich countries. It’s a conspiracy against the poor. It’s appalling. I’m ashamed of such countries not recognising their responsibilities.”
Although the USA and co have been labelled as the villains at the UN sponsored conference, there is evidence that a shift in the UK government’s strategy towards climate change is afoot. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hinted at this change when he said: ”We are not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills, aluminium smelters and paper manufacturers.” His words run against the government’s previous assertions that it intends to be the ‘greenest government ever’. In response, the President of the coalition’s partners, the Liberal Democrat party, Tim Farron, claimed Mr Osborne was taking on climate-sceptic attitude ”to placate 50 or 60 climate deniers on the [Tory] back benches, people who read the Daily Mail and people called Jeremy Clarkson”. It all seems that with the global economy in a downturn, environmental issues are being sidelined.
www.telegraph.co.uk 22nd November 2011
Conservative peer Lord Leach of Fairford has dismissed Sir David Attenborough’s views on climate change as not “worth listening to”. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph’s Tim Walker at the launch of his wife’s book in Holland Park, Lord Fairford said: “he’s very endearing but I don’t think there’s any truth to what he says — he has no idea about it. The fact is you can be jolly nice to monkeys but it isn’t the same as knowing what you’re talking about on climate change.” Lord Leach is a noted climate-sceptic and supports the BBC’s decision to drop an episode of Sir David’s new wildlife series Frozen Planet that focusses on climate change so that the programmes can be better sold abroad. The episode is now an ‘optional extra’, which foreign TV stations can ignore. Lord Leach has had success in gaining public support for his views. He was the chairman for the recent No to AV campaign that saw two-thirds of the British population vote against voting reform.
President Barack Obama made his priorities clear recently when he rejected proposals from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten the national standard from smog. The decision angered environmental and public health groups who called it: ‘bald surrender to business pressure, an act of political pandering and, most galling, a cold-blooded betrayal of a loyal constituency.’ The move is being seen as the first important environmental decision made in President Obama’s campaign season. Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, was told that she could revisit the Clean Air Act standards in 2013, if the Democrats were re-elected. Republicans and industry lobbyists praised the move but there have been other decisions that have not gone their way. Previously, the Obama administration stated that it was going to delay a key decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline until after the 2012 elections. Fears are afoot that the Democrats are abandoning their environmental promises after the Democrats also announced a significant expansion of oil drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Commentators have stated that these moves highlight the White House’s growing awareness of the cost of ‘environmental regulation in a battered economy’.
After years of political debate, the Australian Senate has finally passed The Clean Energy Act, a law which will see the 500 worst polluting companies taxed at a rate of A$23 per tonne of carbon emitted ($23.80; £14.80). The law was heavily opposed by several opposition parties causing the margin of victory to be extremely small. The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had to rely on the support of the Green Party to push through the legislation with 36 Senate votes in favour and 32 against. Opponents of the bill believe it will raise the cost of living and cause job losses but the government hope it will galvanise innovation in the renewable energy sector thereby kicking Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels. Currently Australia accounts for 1.5% of the world’s emissions and is the developed world’s highest per capita polluter. The Clean Energy Act is far stricter than similar laws in the EU where fines range between $8.70 and $12.60 per carbon tonne. Ms Gillard told a news conference, “Today we have made history. After all those years of debate and division, our nation has got the job done.”
e360.yale.edu 2nd November 2011
Quoted from source:
‘One of the Obama administration’s signature environmental proposals — requiring tough new fuel efficiency standards for cars — is under attack from a powerful lobby of car dealers. President Obama had forged an agreement with major U.S. automakers requiring that automobiles would get an average of 54 miles-per-gallon by 2025, nearly double the current efficiency standards. After taking billions in government bailout money, carmakers like General Motors and Chrysler were under intense pressure to agree to the new standards, which are currently being formulated. Now, however, thousands of U.S. automobile dealers are supporting Republican legislation that would upend that agreement and soften the fuel efficiency standards. The bill, introduced into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being involved in fuel efficiency decisions, leaving the matter up to the Department of Transportation, which has traditionally supported a more gradual jump in efficiency standards. The car dealers say the agreement between Obama and the automakers bullies consumers and dealers into accepting overly strict mileage standards that will significantly increase the costs of cars.’
Two scientists involved in the so-called ‘Polarbeargate’ scandal have been asked to take lie-detector tests by the US Department of the Interior (DOI). In 2004 Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett wrote a paper on dead polar bears floating in the Arctic, apparently drowned, and in doing so helped highlight the plight of the species in relation to melting Arctic ice. However, this year allegations within the DOI emerged claiming that acts of ‘scientific misconduct’ may have been committed in relation to the report prompting the DOI’s Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation. After several interviews, the DOI suspended Mr Monnett, who works for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, causing accusations of politics interfering with science and a witch-hunt. Although Mr Monnett has since returned to work, the focus has now shifted to his fellow author Mr Gleason, who was asked if he would take a polygraph. He replied that he would only if the agent interviewing him would take one also. ”There appears to be kind of a desperate, almost fierce nature to pursue this until they find something,” said Mr Gleason’s lawyer, Jeff Ruch, of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Mr Ruch has filed a complaint with the DOI saying his client should be investigated by a review board of scientists, and not the Office of Inspector General.
e360.yale.edu 5th October 2011
‘The European Union says crude oil extracted from Alberta’s tar sands should be ranked as a dirtier fuel source than oil tapped from conventional oil wells, a move that could effectively ban the import of the controversial oil. The European Commission endorsed a measure that would essentially rate fossil fuels based on the CO2 emited during extraction, refining, and combustion. The EU has proposed that tar sands oil be ascribed a greenhouse gas value of 107 grams per megajoule of fuel, compared with 87.5 grams for ordinary crude oil. “With this measure, we are sending a clear signal to fossil fuel suppliers,” said Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate change commissioner. “As fossil fuels will be a reality in the foreseeable future, it’s important to give them the right value.” Such a ratings system may eventually be applied to natural gas extracted from shale oil formations. The exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands has generated increasing protest from environmental groups. In addition to destroying large swaths of forest, the extraction and processing of the sludgy bituminous material typically requires more energy and water than conventional production. Canadian officials and petroleum industry leaders vowed to fight the measure, calling it a “stigmatization” of a fuel source found only in Alberta and Saskatchewan.’
www.guardian.co.uk 16th August 2011
Quoted from source:
‘More than 2,000 protesters gathered outside Australia‘s Parliament House on Tuesday to demonstrate against government plans to make the country’s biggest air polluters pay a tax on the carbon gas they produce. The prime minister, Julia Gillard, is poised to pass the unpopular tax with the support of independent legislators and the Greens party. Protesters complained that Gillard had promised not to introduce a carbon tax when her centre-left Labor party was narrowly re-elected last year. Some called for a new election. Gillard plans to impose a A$23(£14) tax on every metric tonne of carbon gas produced starting 1 July next year. The opposition called on the prime minister to apologise to parliament for winning the election on a falsehood that her government would not tax carbon emissions. But Gillard said the carbon tax deal she struck with the independents and Greens was the best option for Australia’s future. “I take the responsibility for having made that decision. I understand that has caused disappointment among many,” she told parliament. “But you get elected to this position to make the tough decisions that are important for the nation’s future.” The protest coincided with parliament’s first session after a five-week break.’
e360.yale.edu 19th July 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The shipping industry has become the first global business sector to agree to mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions. At a meeting of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, member countries agreed to set CO2 emissions standards on new ships beginning in 2019, with the goal of improving energy efficiency by 30 percent by 2024. The member countries also agreed to more modest efficiency improvements and emissions reductions in the world’s 60,000 existing ships. Of the world’s top 10 shipping nations, only China voted against the agreement. Brazil, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Chile also opposed the accord, and it remains to be seen if these countries will adhere to the majority decision. The agreement allows developing nations to apply for a waiver from the rules until 2019, and the Clean Shipping Coalition warned that the agreement could result in most new ships registering with countries that get a waiver. Overall, however, environmental advocates said the agreement was a positive step that could reduce CO2 emissions from shipping by 50 million tons by 2020. Shipping accounts for about 3 percent of human CO2 emissions.’
By Ben Caldecott, www.guardian.co.uk 12th July 2011
“The global financial system faces a deep, opaque and systemic risk that threatens to destroy our economic well-being, including our pensions. But forget collateralised debt obligations and subprime mortgages, the implications of an economy-wide over-exposure to fossil fuel investments could be even more severe and wide ranging than those of the recent financial crisis.
More money is flowing into clean technologies than ever before – a record £150bn of investment last year – but money is also still pouring into coal, oil, gas, mining and other high-carbon sectors at a pace that severely undermines our efforts to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges. Take last month’s listing of mining and commodities giant Glencore, for example, which valued the company at £37bn, the largest ever capital raising by an international company in London. Or Shell’s £62bn investment drive over the next four years, which is focused on increasing oil and gas production to 3.7m barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2014, an increase of 12% from 2010.
Judging from these and many other recent high-carbon endorsements, “let the good times roll” appears to be the tune to which the high-carbon incumbents across the world are dancing. The implications of locking in high-carbon investments are huge and long term.”
Read the full article on the Guardian’s website.
www.telegraph.co.uk 30th June 2011
Plans to raise the speed limit on UK motorways from 70 mph to 80 mph have been criticised by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). According to the Committee, led by Lord Adair Turner, the increase would increase the amount of CO2 emitted by motorway traffic as well as cost the economy £150 million because of growing taxes on pollution levels. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, is contemplating the speed increase as it may be in the interest of businesses to do so. The CCC however claim it is eco-driving that will save the money. Limits on driving speeds could save 5 million tonnes of carbon annually amounting to about £1 billion of savings over 10 years (carbon is currently valued at £30 a tonne). Eco-driving has currently not taken off though as only 10,000 drivers were trained for it in 2010, compared to the 350,000 needed annually to reach carbon reduction targets. The UK is already behind on its EU promise to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by the year 2025. In 2010, emissions rose by 3% when they should be declining by that amount every year.
www.bbc.co.uk 14th June 2011
A new report titled ‘The State of Europe’s Forests 2011′ has put emphasis on the important role European woodland can play in mitigating the effects of climate change. Announced at the Forest Europe conference in Oslo, the report is expected to help EU ministers create legally binding forestry policy. In statistics, the forests of Europe account for 25% of the world’s total and absorbs about 10% of Europe’s carbon emissions. The area of European forest covers 1 billion hectares, or 45% of Europe’s total area. 80% of this is in the Russian Federation. Forests account for 1% of Europe’s GDP, which equates to 4 million jobs. Surprisingly, the forest area is increasing by about 800,000 hectares a year although there are several potential hurdles in this bit of good news. Forest fires, insect infestations, disease, and nitrogen deposition from pollution all threaten European woodland. The conference’s opening address was made by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway who stated: ”capacity building, good governance and increased international co-operation are necessary in order to secure sustainable forest management. Forests that are sustainably managed are becoming an important part of the solution for global climate change.”
www.smh.com.au 31st May 2011
Cate Blanchett, the Australian born actress in such films as Lord of the Rings and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, has put her name to a series of adverts for the “say yes” to a carbon tax campaign. Despite receiving several political attacks due to her decision, Ms Blanchett said, ”everyone will benefit if we protect the environment. There is a societal cost of increased pollution and that’s what I’m passionate about as a mother. That’s where it gets me in the gut. I can’t look my children in the face if I’m not trying to do something in my small way and to urge other people.” The main criticism for her role in the advert, where she appears alongside her husband actor Michael Caton, is that she is a rich person advocating a tax that would affect “everyday Australians”. The advert was sponsored by the a coalition of groups including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, GetUp!, and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Ms Blanchett was not paid for her work. The leader of the opposition Liberal Party of Australia, Tony Abbott, who opposes the Carbon Tax, accused the actress of being an out-of-touch celebrity. ”You do not give special weight to celebrities,” he said. ”You do not give special weight to people who live half the year in Hollywood where there is no carbon tax.”
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th June 2011
The latest spell of warm weather across the UK has been the declared the driest spring in 100 years, according to the UK’s Environment Agency, causing parts of Eastern England to be given ‘drought’ status. This means farmers may have to stop taking water from local waterways and businesses such as food processors and breweries reduce water use and share resources. Despite this, the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has said that a hosepipe ban is not yet needed as reservoirs remain quite full. She did suggest people take showers instead of baths though to save water. Only one water company, Severn Trent in the Midlands, has openly said that a hosepipe ban is likely this summer. Although East Anglia is the worst affected part of the country, areas of the South West, South East, the Midlands, and Wales are designated as having ‘near-drought’ conditions. The WWF have expressed concerns that water companies make take too much water from waterways threatening such species as otters, water voles, and salmon. A spokesman said, “our water supplies have been taken for granted for far too long and now we’re facing a drought that could devastate our wildlife, rivers and crops. Ministers must act to ensure we change the way we use our water instead of wasting it through badly designed buildings and appliances, poor planning and inadequate investment.” Most cereal crops such as Barley and Wheat in East Anglia and the South East have already been lost due to dry conditions but fruits such as strawberries and cherries are having bumper yields.
www.nytimes.com 6th June 2011
Canadian oil sands hold an incredibly large amount of oil. Sands in the province of Alberta alone hold an estimated 171.3 billion barrels of oil so it is not hard to see why its extraction is progressing at a rapid rate. However, a proposed pipeline between Canada and the US has stumbled across some difficulties as the State Department, the US government body that needs to give permission for the pipeline, reaches an end of its environmental review. The process has lasted since November 2008. A decision is expected by the end of this year. Environmental groups widely criticise the exploitation of oil sands due to the amount of energy and water used in the extraction process and the destruction of the Boreal forest atop the sands. With $7 billion behind the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction though, as well as US government concerns about oil import instability due to the Arab Spring, environmental concerns may be sidelined for a secure source of oil. Russell K. Girling, president of TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, has said that oil sand development will go ahead whatever the American government decide. Other alternatives include transporting by rail or by using other existing pipelines such the Trans Mountain pipeline to Canada’s Pacific Coast. The Chinese have also expressed interest. The Canadian government is not likely to fall out of love with so-called ‘dirty oil’ (see the film of the same name in our documentaries section) anytime soon. Canadians re-elected a conservative government who have been staunch supporters of oil sand development.
www.guardian.co.uk 1st May 2011
A row has broken out between the British government and energy firms operating in the UK’s coastal waters. The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in March a 12% tax increase in off-shore drilling profits from companies exploiting fossil fuel resources around the UK. In response, Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, declared that its Morecambe Bay natural gas field in the Irish Sea, currently closed for maintenance, may not reopen as it would be cheaper for them to import gas from the continent. The Morecambe field accounts for 6% of the UK’s natural gas. However, the company says that with the tax increase, North Morecambe will be subject to a 62% tax rate and South Morecambe 81% and if therefore wasn’t economical for them to reopen the field. This is despite British Gas posting record profits of £742 million in February of this year, a 24% increase from 2010. The Treasury issued a quick response to Centrica’s announcement by stating the company will still receive substantial profits from using the field but that the tax rise was necessary to keep fuel prices low for UK citizens. The industry has reacted furiously to George Osborne’s decision to impose a £2 billion windfall tax on companies exploiting the North Sea. BP and Shell alone have claimed that they will lose £600 million each. Centrica is particularly involved in the row as ‘chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, has recently been appointed a non-executive director at the Department for Transport as part of the drive to import private-sector efficiency to Whitehall.’
www.guardian.co.uk 7th April 2011
The European commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, confirmed on Tuesday plans to link the world’s largest carbon trading scheme in the EU with the second largest in California (due to open next year). Ms Hedegaard met with California’s governor Jerry Brown and Mary Nicholls, who chairs the Californian Air Resources Board, in the state capital Sacramento to discuss the plan. The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) was designed to link with other schemes but it has, as yet, failed to find a compatible one. The first possible linking would have been with the USA’s cap and trade scheme but it failed to pass into law. The EU ETS dwarves California’s predicted value with transactions amounting to £62 billion in 2010. The Californian scheme is predicted to hit £6 billion by 2016. Critics in Brussels have expressed concerns about compatibility between systems but in truth the European model is far from perfect. Problems include over-allocation of allowances allowing energy companies to secure huge profits and ‘allegedly fraudulent “missing trader” transactions worth €5bn’.
www.bbc.co.uk 6th April 2011
One of the less contentious forms of geo-engineering, or the deliberate changing of the earth’s climate to reduce climate change, would see clouds sprayed with seawater to make them whiter thereby reflecting more of the sun’s energy. However, new research by the European Geosciences Union has found that depending on the size of the water droplets, the action could have a warming effect, rather than a cooling one. The theory was thought up in the 1990s by John Latham, now of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, USA. It has since been championed by numerous academics as one of the less environmentally detrimental forms of geo-engineering to combat global warming (see here for other proposed methods). One version of the idea would see wind-powered ships sail the oceans were reflective stratocumulus clouds are scarce. They would then spray a constant spray of seawater into the atmosphere where tiny salt crystals would act as nuclei around which water would vaporise and create clouds. However, Kari Alterskjaer of the European Geosciences Union has claimed that the wrong-sized water droplets would actually decrease cloud cover. There is a fine balance between too large, which would just fall back down from the sky, and too small, which would influence particles already in the sky. Geo-engineering is one of the more dramatic ways researchers are studying to limit the effects of global warming.
www.latimes.com 4th April 2011
A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley who embarked on a study to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming are finding that their results are actually supporting the existence of the phenomenon. Led by Professor Richard Muller, a long-term sceptic of climate studies, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was intended to challenge perceived over-exaggeration on the extent of global warming. But to the surprise of the project’s supporters, and researchers, Prof. Muller announced to a congressional hearing that the commonly used temperature trends underlying climate science are ”excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” The news will certainly annoy the project’s biggest private backers, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Charles and David Koch are oil billionaires and the most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs of burning fossil fuels. The statement by Prof. Muller is likely to exasperate the current political battle in the US over whether the Environmental Protection Agency should have the power to curb planet-heating emissions from industry and transport. The professor has cautioned that his statement is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements his project is going through.
e360.yale.edu 1st April 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Five major U.S. companies, including shipping giants FedEx and United Parcel Service, have committed to partner with the Obama administration in support of a national effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption. As charter members of the so-called National Clean Fleets Partnership, the companies — along with AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon — have pledged to reduce their combined petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons annually through an increased commitment to renewable energy and electric vehicles. The announcement comes days after President Obama called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025. The five participating companies operate some of the largest vehicle fleets in the nation, with a total of more than 275,000 trucks and vans. As part of the commitment, the companies have pledged to deploy 20,000 vehicles that use fossil fuel alternatives, including electric power and biofuels.’
www.guardian.co.uk 14th February 2011
In his 2012 Budget Report, US President Barak Obama has proposed opening up funding for clean energy by reducing subsidies for fossil fuels. The report would see the Department of Energy receiving a budget of $29.5 billion for the fiscal year, which is a mark up of 4.2% from the proposed 2011 budget. Of this, around $8 billion would go towards renewable energy such as wind and solar. To help make up this amount, Obama has asked Congress to take away $3.6 billion in oil and gas subsidies in addition to cut government funding for oil and gas research and hydrogen fuel programmes. Predictably, most of the Republican party, who now have the majority in the House of Representatives, oppose the budget claiming that the cuts would cost jobs in a time of economic uncertainty. The party has also vocalised its intention to reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s programme to regulate greenhouse has emissions claiming that ‘Congress should be the one to decide whether to fight Climate Change, not the administration.’ Obama’s budget already slashes $1.3 billion of the EPA by reducing funds aimed at the Great Lakes Restoration and a clean diesel programme. According to analysts, the most likely condition in the budget to make it into law is extra funding for electric cars, as this could be paired with an opposing bill to increase money for natural gas fuelled cars.