Saturday, February 21, 2009

Goodman, Stewart, Maddow, Colbert, Olberman

The contribution to this country and to the world by Amy Goodman, Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Colbert and Olberman is profound.


* They must be relentlessly watched, studied, learned from, followed, and gone beyond!
* We owe them a HUGE debt of gratitude, AND SUPPORT..
* We owe it to humanity to learn from them, to spread the word.
* We owe it t0 ourselves to live with the wisdom and She/He/roism they embody.

Huge, Huge Patriots.

In China, Clinton Focuses on Climate Change
NYT: Declaring "we hope you won't make the same mistakes we made," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the United States in an ambitious effort to curb greenhouse gases, as she toured an energy-efficient power plant in Beijing on Saturday. "When we were industrializing and growing, we didn't know any better; neither did Europe," Mrs. Clinton said. "Now we're smart enough to figure out how to have the right kind of growth."

*** Wake Up Call: Activists Visit 'The Army Experience'

On Monday, February 16th about 50 activists decided to take a trip to the Franklin Mills Mall right outside Philadelphia, PA to get their look at a new "store". "The Army Experience" (AEC), as it is called, built by the taxpayers to the tune of $12 million, attracts local kids to play video games, most of which are high tech simulations of combat situations.

The group was made up of members from all over the area. World Can't Wait from New York City and Philadelphia; Delaware Valley Veterans of America; Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW); Veterans for Peace from the Philadelphia area; CodePink Women for Peace; Granny Peace Brigade; and, the Brandywine Peace Center converged on the mall at about 10:30 AM, greeted by a heavier than usual security force.

*** "National Clean Energy Project" forum to be held Monday, Feb 23, in Washington, D.C.
PRNEWSWIRE: The highly select group of participants include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman, oil executive T. Boone Pickens and environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr.

*** Obama nixes plan to tax motorists on mileage
AP: President Barack Obama on Friday rejected his transportation secretary's suggestion that the administration consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive instead of how much gasoline they buy. "It is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters

Car Companies "Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic?"
FAST COMPANY: Pasadena's Art Center College of Design is in the middle of a three-day summit on sustainable mobility and the future of the automotive industry, bringing designers together with political leaders like Rep. Edward Markey and LA's mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and green luminaries like Amory Lovins.

After a panel discussion, Nesbitt, along with representatives of Toyota and hybrid startup Bright Automotive, were asked a very rude question.

"Are you guys rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?"

Bill Reinert of Toyota Motors bristled at the charge. "I don't think that any of the three of us up here see business as usual. We might see things going in different directions than you do, but we don't see business as usual. The fact that we talk about how difficult it is to bring this stuff to market and to educate the consumer doesn't mean we think it shouldn't be done."

**** Study predicts oil demand will peak well before supplies run out
BUSINESSGREEN: Experts argue oil industry should be worried about a very different type of "peak oil" - peak demand.Management consultancy Arthur D Little has turned peak oil fears on their head with a report suggesting that the global economy will have begun to abandon oil well before supplies peak.The Beginning of the End for Oil?, written by Peter Hughes a former executive at natural gas giant BG Group, address the prospect of falling demand for oil, rather than fears over dwindling supplies. It suggests that a mixture of drivers is forcing a broad policy change that will continue to reduce consumption. Fears over climate change, security of supply, and price volatility, will form a holy trinity to drive policy redirection, he said.

*** A Greenswell of Support for A Carbon Tax to Address Climate Change
US CLIMATE TASK FORCE: The climate policy debate has been making headlines this week. News outlets have been buzzing with increased support for a carbon tax by high-profile leaders in the climate change community. While this policy's growing profile hasn't been warmly received yet on Capitol Hill, more officials and the public are embracing it.

Take, for instance, the remarks made last week by Energy Secretary Chu that indicated his support of a carbon tax in lieu of cap-and-trade. Even though his comments struck a chord with voters — sparking a regular greenswell of support — Beltway pundits have labeled Chu's statement a political "gaffe." In yesterday's ClimateWire, political analyst Thomas Mann explained:

What he said originally meets the classic definition of a gaffe: a politically awkward truth widely acknowledged by experts but one not yet allowable in the political arena … Cap and trade has the virtue of obscuring the costs of carbon reduction in a way that a carbon tax does not.

Quick References: Cap and Trade vs. Carbon Tax [Note: SL sees no clear choice yet on this issue.]

CLIMATE 411: I posted earlier this month about quick reference sheets we're putting together to cover points that we often discuss with with Hill staff and reporters. We just added some new ones, and I wanted to highlight a couple for you:

Again, I hope you also find these summaries useful, and we appreciate suggestions for additions and updates.

South Africa’s path on the steep and rocky road to Copenhagen
ENGINEERING NEWS: The stage has been set for what could be dramatic climate-change nego- tiations at the fifteenth United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. However, whether the key actors will show moral courage and rectitude, or whether they will allow the talks to descend into tragedy, or even a farce, is still far from certain.

Coal-Fired Power Plants Will Need Better Carbon Capture and Storage Technology

SCI AM: As the development of new coal-fired power plants is slowing amid growing opposition, utility executives say development of carbon capture-and-storage technologies will play a major role in the industry's long-term viability.

"We have to be able to advance that technology for future coal plants to be built," said Nick Akins, the executive vice president for generation at utility giant American Electric Power Co. Inc., which relies heavily on coal. "We have to answer the carbon capture and storage equation to keep coal in the picture."

EPA Sues Louisiana Coal-Fired Power Plant to Install Required Pollution Controls, Seeks Civil Damages
TREEHUGGER: Yesterday Brian asked whether the new EPA will be tougher on coal and, seemingly on clockwork, the EPA answered: Announcing that it would be filing a lawsuit against Louisiana Generating, a subsidiary of NRG Energy for violations of the Clean Air Act. While not the greater move to regulate carbon emissions that many are hoping will come out of the EPA on Lisa Jackson's watch, but nevertheless it's a step in the right direction. Here are the details of the suit:

AES dumps coal-fired plant plans; environmental groups respond. [Atleast SOMEONE is working for humanity.]
SEQUOYAH TIMES: AES, which operates a coal-fired power plant at Shady Point south of Sallisaw on U.S. Highway 59, has withdrawn its application for an air permit application from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and apparently discarded plans to build a bigger plant.

The expansion of the new coal-fired generation plant was opposed by several environmental groups, including the Sequoyah County Clean Air Coalition.

New regulations could cost coal plant $2.8B

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A new study by opponents of a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Arkansas say new federal regulations could make it cost another $2.8 billion over 40 years.

TVA: Coal Ash Spill to Cost Up to $800 Million to Clean

DN! The Tennessee Valley Authority says it may cost over $800 million to clean up last year's massive coal ash spill at a Tennessee coal plant. 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge spilled from a containment pond, flooding homes and nearby water sources.

Anti-coal activists get a boost from Tennessee ash spill and other mishaps. ["A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." Obama]
GRIST: The past two months have been a public relations nightmare for the coal industry. First there was the Tennessee spill shortly before Christmas. On New Year's Day, a coal train derailed in Otero County, Colo. On Jan. 9, a leak at a second TVA waste pond at the unfortunately named Widows Creek Power Plant in northeastern Alabama spilled some 10,000 gallons of gypsum slurry, the same day that a coal train operated by National Coal Corporation overturned, dumping 1,100 tons of coal along the New River in Scott County, Tenn. TVA took another hit on Jan. 13 when a U.S. district court judge in North Carolina ruled that four of its coal plants in Alabama and Tennessee are a public health nuisance and need to be cleaned up.

On the political front, the news has been just as bad, thanks in large part to the new Obama administration.

Friday, February 20, 2009

****Obama [has a DANGEROUSLY] rising tide of dangers around him.
CONSORTIUMNEWS: Only one month into his presidency, Barack Obama is finding himself confronting not only George W. Bush's left-behind crises but an array of influential enemies in the military, financial circles, the political world and the media – determined to thwart Obama's agenda for "change." Though Obama has maintained his trademark equanimity in the face of this resistance, he appears to be sensing the rising tide of dangers around him.

N.Y.U. Students Continue Occupation to Press Demands
NYT: students who had barricaded themselves in a third-floor cafeteria on Wednesday night vowed on Thursday to continue their occupation until they were able to present a list of demands to school administrators.

A surge of new protesters pushed their way past security guards and into the cafeteria about 9 p.m., according to students who were contacted on their cellphones. VIDEO:

California budget plan would weaken air pollution rules,0,4233532.story
LA TIMES: A major provision would delay the retrofitting of heavy diesel equipment, which would save the construction industry millions but also hurt efforts to reduce harmful emissions.

EARTH TIMES: Clean Fix for Canada’s Tar Sands - NUCLEAR HEAT!!! OOOHHHH NNNOOOOO.,722955.shtml
Inherently safe and proliferation-resistant, the HPM utilizes the energy of low-enriched uranium fuel in a technology unlike any other currently in use or in development. Approximately 4,000 units of the same design will be produced, sealed and shipped from company manufacturing sites. The company expects to begin delivery of the units in 2014.

NYT: Obama Makes Overtures to Canada’s Leader
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, the director of the Canada program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, called the dialogue "a logical first step," adding, "What we heard him say is that addressing global warming is a top priority."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WP: U.S. Has Dual Task On Climate Change
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's decision to make her first overseas trip to China, where she arrives today, highlights the daunting tasks the new administration faces as the world scrambles to forge a new climate-change treaty this year: trying to persuade emerging economies to make deep cuts in greenhouse-gas releases that they have long resisted while coaxing Congress to adopt first-ever limits on the United States' own emissions.

NYT: Who Should Regulate Greenhouse Gases? [wonky, but worth the effort]

Under orders from the Supreme Court, which the Bush administration ignored, President Obama's new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to determine whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health. If the agency decides to regulate carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the effect on transportation, manufacturing costs and power generation would be profound. Such a decision would also set off one of the most extensive regulatory rule makings in history.

Should the E.P.A. be the lead agency in regulating greenhouse gases? Is there a better way to carry out climate change initiatives?


MCCLEANS: So, what did that all mean for a Canada-U.S. climate change strategy?
This afternoon's Harper-Obama press conference left us with more questions than answers. In four years, will we share a carbon market? Will Canada retain its intensity targets while the U.S. commits to absolute reductions in greenhouse gases? Will we have cap and trade? It's all still anybody's guess. What we do know is, we're likely going to get a new electric grid. Who saw that coming?

**** DN!: Canadian Activists Urge Obama to Reject Environmentally Destructive Oil Extraction from Alberta’s Tar Sands

DN!!!!!! NO!!! TO TAR SANDS 1\2
President Barack Obama is heading to Canada today for his first foreign trip as president. A coalition of environmental groups are urging Obama to cut back on America's dependence on oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Greenpeace says the tar sands generate three to five times as much greenhouse gas pollution as the production of conventional oil.

NYT FRANK RICH: Misunderstimating the RepuGicans has all but killed us. [WATCH THIS]

8MIN:   Misunderstimating the RepuGicans has all but killed us.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice - there is not twice. We're out of time.

CAPITOLCLIMATECONNETION.ORG: March 2 DC Action- Get Involved Get Involved! endshere

Want to stay in the loop about what's happening with the Capitol Climate Action? Can you help mobilize your community or campus for this important event? Will you join us in Washington DC and help make history? And if not, want to be informed of other ways you can get involved? RSVP now and get plugged in:

TREEHUGGER: Susan Sarandon too adds her voice to those urging action against coal burning...

Why Bill McKibben is Willing to Get Arrested to Stop the Burning ...
Susan Sarandon (VIDE0:  too adds her voice to those urging action against coal burning... Writer, environmentalist and scholar in residence at Middlebury College, Bill McKibben's name pops up fairly frequently on TreeHugger (he even gets his own tag !). Well, in. ... Well, in a new piece for Yale Environment 360 McKibben explains why he will be heading to Washington DC on March 2 to join demonstrations to close the nation's capitol's coal-fired power plant. Check it out: ...
TreeHugger -

**** YALE360: Why I’ll Get Arrested March 2 To Stop the Burning of Coal. Bill McKibben
It may seem odd timing that many of us are heading to the nation's capital early next month for a major act of civil disobedience at a coal-fired power plant, the first big protest of its kind against global warming in this country... If you think about it a little longer, though, you realize this is just the moment to up the ante. For one thing, it would have done no good in the past: you think Dick Cheney was going to pay attention? ... More importantly, we need a powerful and active movement not to force the administration and the Democrats in Congress to do something they don't want to, but to give them the political space they need to act on their convictions. Barack Obama was a community organizer — he understands that major change only comes when it's demanded, when there's some force noisy enough to drown out the eternal hum of business as usual, of vested interest, of inertia.

ENVIROBLOG: Food production worldwide may fall 25 percent by 2050. At the same time, the prices will rise up to 30 -50 percent

Enviroblog: UNEP report highlights food crisis Archives
By Jovana Ruzicic
A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program(UNEP) predicts that food production worldwide may fall 25 percent by 2050. At the same time, the prices will rise up to 30 -50 percent, and the population will increase by millions. The loss is due to climate change, land degradation, water scarcity and degradation, among other things. The global economic downturn is not helping either, as well as our general mentality of not working with the nature but against it. ...
Enviroblog -

!!!! GRIST: Obama's strongest message on climate yet
"Science magazine is reporting, "Strong indications are that President-elect Barack Obama has picked physicist John Holdren to be the president's science adviser."

I have known Holdren for over a decade and have discussed energy/climate issues with him many times. He probably has more combined expertise on both climate science and clean energy technology than any other person who could plausibly have been named science adviser. You can see a video of an excellent talk he gave here (along with talks by Chu and me). For a more recent BBC interview, see "The Climate Quote of the Week...."

!!! NYT: E.P.A. Expected to Regulate Carbon Dioxide

"If the environmental agency determines that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, it would set off one of the most extensive regulatory rule makings in history. Ms. Jackson knows that she would be stepping into a minefield of Congressional and industry opposition and said that she was trying to devise a program that allayed these worries.

"We are poised to be specific on what we regulate and on what schedule," Ms. Jackson said. "We don't want people to spin that into a doomsday scenario." "

!!! GUARDIAN / JIM HANNSEN: Obama's [DEADLY] tar sand trap (AND OURS; about which YOU will do what?)

 "So an underlying fact has become crystal clear. The horrendously carbon-intensive unconventional fossil fuels, tar shale in the US and tar sands in Canada, cannot be developed. The carbon emissions from tar shale and tar sands would initiate a continual unfolding of climate disasters over the course of this century. We would be miserable stewards of creation. We would rob our own children and grandchildren.

Now is a critical moment in the history of our planet. The US and Canadian governments must agree that the unconventional fossil fuels, tar sands and tar shale, will not be developed. They will thus send a message that their statements recognising "a planet in peril" are not empty rhetoric. They will provide hope to young people and nature. We can preserve our heritage with its remarkable diversity of life."


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HUFF POST / NRDC: President Obama: Don't Give Canadian Tar Sands a Free Climate Pass
"How We Can Make a Difference Here at Home We also have work to do on our side of the border. I just came back from the World Economic Forum in Davos where climate change was a major topic, but so was energy supply. Representatives from the oil industry justified tars sands by saying, "We have to keep up with demand, so we have to increase supply."

As much as 75% of Canadian tar sands oil comes to the United States. We need to do our share to slash that demand. We should call on American workers to make more fuel efficient cars, expand our public transit systems, and design and build smart growth communities that reduce our need to drive..."

GRIST: Life after coal: It's sooner than you think

Investors will figure out that coal is growing scarce and too expensive.

It's great that the New York Times is asking "Is America Ready to Quit Coal?" but the real question may be "Will we have any choice?"

On February 12, Clean Energy Action released a report on Powder River Basin coal supplies, based in part on a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report. The Powder River Basin matters because Western coal has been the only source of new coal production in the U.S. for the last two decades. Appalachian and interior coal production has been declining, despite mostly increasing prices and uniformly increasing prices since 2003. Northern Appalachian coal production peaked in the middle of the last century, while interior coal production peaked at the start of this decade. When production declines in the face of rising prices, constraints other than economics must be coming into play. Future increases in production in these regions seems unlikely....

SEATTLE TIMES: Invest more wisely in defense spending
"The irony is that the U.S. has spent a fortune to have its military weakened. Defense spending increased by nearly 40 percent since 2000. Add on top of that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on emergency supplementals to fight the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the yearly defense budget has almost doubled in the last decade...."

YALE: A Source of Energy Hiding in Plain Sight
"Countless dollars in energy from limited fossil fuels are wasted – a result of aging and inefficient factories, homes not being insulated and vehicles manufactured without any regard for conservation"

NRDC: Does the U.S. need tar sands oil? Our analysis shows we don't
"What our analysis shows is that clean energy and energy efficiency can truly be a substitute, not simply one of multiple energy sources (or "all of the above" as its known in policy circles) needed to fuel our future. We can kick the tar sands habit and produce the energy we need.  What could be better news as the President heads up to Canada?"

BLOOMBERG: Canada’s Tar-Sands Oil Can Be ‘Clean,’ Obama Says !!!VERY BAD NEWS!!!! And now YOU will do what?  Conservationists on both sides of the border have called on Obama to reject any bid to exempt tar-sands oil from proposed climate-protection rules.

!!!! NYT: An $80 Billion Start (Important overview of the Stimulus Detail)  "Wrapped inside the economic stimulus package is about $80 billion in spending, loan guarantees and tax incentives aimed at promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, higher-mileage cars and coal that is truly clean. As a stand-alone measure, these investments would amount to the biggest energy bill in history."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FINANCIAL POST: Take climate change off the agenda
"A consideration of the evidence is not too much to ask, particularly in these uncertain economic times. If our leaders continue to refuse to face facts we must hold them accountable — people no longer buy into the global warming state of fear. Economic realities and scientific observations have pushed global warming off the agenda, and so should Harper and Obama..."

HUF POST: Top 5 Myths About Coal...spent over $125 delay global-warming-pollution reductions...
1. It's Clean 
2. It's Safe  3. It's Cheap  4. It's Good for the Economy  5. It Can Help Stop Global Warming.  "

"If we need immediate action on climate change, clearly CCS is not going to be part of that mix. And frankly, despite its rhetoric that "we can be part of the solution," the coal industry is doing everything it can to be part of the problem.

The Center for American Progress reported, "The coal mining and electric utility industries spent over $125 million combined in the first nine months of 2008 to lobby Congress to delay global-warming-pollution reductions until clean coal technology is ready...."

!!! SEATTLE INTELIGENCER: The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet's greatest threats. 

"The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet's greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two to three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon reduction tools on the planet -- Canada's Boreal Forest.This forest plays a key role in the global carbon equation by serving as a major storehouse for terrestrial carbon -- indeed, it is believed to store more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem on Earth. When this pristine forest is strip-mined for tar sands development, much of its stored carbon is lost. Canada's Boreal Forest is also the reservoir for a large fraction of North America's clean, fresh water, home to about 5 billion migratory birds, and some of the largest remaining populations of caribou, moose, bear and wolves on the planet..." 

!!! MOTHERJONES: Power Q&A: Amory Lovins

The energy-efficiency guru who cofounded the Rocky Mountain Institute advocates feebates, negawatts, and letting the little guys play.
"The U.S. lags badly; only 4 percent of our power comes from micropower—cogeneration, wind, sun, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and waste fuel. The reason the U.S. lags so badly is that we have obsolete rules that favor big over small, supply over efficiency, and incumbents over new market entrants...."

!!! WASH POST: Alternative Energy Still Facing Headwinds. TRANSMISSION LINES!

Despite Obama's Support, Projects Tripped Up by Financing, Logistics

"The national electricity grid is "the biggest, most complex machine on Earth," said Amory B. Lovins, chief executive of the Rocky Mountain Institute. It is also antiquated and largely unable to connect with places where renewable power supplies are plentiful...Yet the $2 billion in the stimulus package devoted to transmission lines is a tiny part of what's needed. "I see it as seed money," said Jon Wellinghoff, acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "We need $100 billion to $200 billion worth of investment, and I believe we'll see that money coming from the private sector," he said, though current credit conditions make that difficult.There are other hurdles besides financing, including multiple steps of permitting, as well as logistics and opposition to the transmission lines that would crisscross slabs of unspoiled landscape...

StartL: Friends, don't panic!!!!! I got behind 2 days.

Future daily updates will not likely be so voluminous.
[NOTICE!!! No longer will I send out mass, blind emails regularly.
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For each, each day you would receive
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BEYOND GREEN: If all 50 states were as energy efficient as the top ten... "more than 60 percent of coal-fired generation could be ...shut down."
  Weaver's Way Co-op - Beyond Green Blog
By tlaskawy
They determined that if all 50 states were as energy efficient as the top ten most efficient states then "more than 60 percent of coal-fired generation could be displaced" - as in shut down. That's 360 coal-fired power plants right ...
Beyond Green -

IPCC: Climate change will be more devastating than predicted, top scientist warns

"We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge upsurge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal." Stanford's Professor Chris Field, [head] of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Ashley Judd urges end to mountaintop coal mining 

Associated Press

Actress Ashley Judd added her voice Tuesday to calls to stop a destructive mining practice that blasts away mountaintops to unearth coal.

The Kentucky native was among some 500 demonstrators who gathered Tuesday outside the state Capitol for a rally against so-called mountaintop removal coal mining.

PAUL KRUGMAN/NYT/PULITZER: Apocalypse now... this could be America. (Hey, let's ignore him TOO.)

February 17, 2009, 12:36 pm

Apocalypse now

Everyone should be paying attention to the political/fiscal catastrophe now unfolding in California. Years of neglect, followed by economic disaster — and with all reasonable responses blocked by a fanatical, irrational minority.

This could be America next.

My Friends: If the shoe does not fit, PLEASE DON'T WEAR IT!!!! :-) Yes some of my comments are VERY CAUSTIC!!!! SL

Yes some of my comments are VERY CAUSTIC!!!!


But, if they do NOT apply to you, YOU WOULD BE THE FIRST TO UNDERSTAND AND FORGIVE ME, because then, you too are living in the horror that all but a minuscule few of our brothers and sisters are dying in morbid apathy and inaction - from which WE ARE ALL DYING.

JIM HANSEN!!!: The Sword of Damocles

The Sword of Damocles

Over a year ago I wrote to Prime Minister Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other world leaders. The reason is this – coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.

Our global climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear, and there is a potential for explosive changes with effects that would be irreversible – if we do not rapidly slow fossil fuel emissions over the next few decades....  <<<<<<<<

TAKEPART: Obama’s "Personals" Ad: Say No to Tar Sands Oil (clever!)

Barack Obama is a pretty busy guy these days, so to grab his attention the Canadian environmental group Forest Ethics took out a personal ad to the president in newspapers across the U.S. and Canada.  The hilarious ad is designed to woo Obama into helping end the climate changing emissions of the Canadian Tar Sands:

Patriotic, busy, Chicago-Hawaiian man, must like basketball and know how to do the fist bump. I saw you on TV. You said 'Yes, we can' and talked about a clean energy future. Meet me in Canada and we'll sweep aside the world's dirtiest oil, the Tar Sands, and make sweet climate-change solutions together.

Obama's visit to Canada on Thursday will only last about 6 hours, so they'll really need to get the message across quickly, and considering Canada's Tar Sands project emits three times as many greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil production...

FINANCIAL TIMES: Global warming closing in on 'critical threshold." (Hey, you'll be dead before it becomes HELL for your kids. :-) )

By Clive Cookson in Chicago

Published: February 16 2009 02:00 | Last updated: February 16 2009 02:00

The world is warming far more quickly than scientists forecast just two years ago when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its last reports, according to a series of assessments presented over the weekend...

CLIMATE ARK: RELEASE: President Obama Urged to Say No to Canada's Tar Sands (Sooo, YOU are going do what?)

Canadian government wants special treatment for the world's dirtiest oil. In first international trip, President Obama must stand strong on clean energy and sufficient climate policies.

By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry,

Filthy tar sands will ensure a global climate disaster (Seattle, WA) -- On February 19, President Barack Obama travels to Canada on his first international trip as President, where he will face pressure from the Government of Canada to support production of Alberta's filthy tar sands oil [search]. An international network of environmental groups has launched the "Obama2Canada" campaign[1] urging President Obama to stand strong on his new energy economy agenda and reject entreaties from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to shelter the dirtiest oil on earth from global warming regulation...

MN ST.PAUL STAR TRIB: Draw a line on tar sands

Joris Voorhoeve: Draw a line on tar sands

"Canada hopes to be freed of environmental obligations so it can develop a very dirty method of oil extraction. This would be a horrible precedent."

FP survey: Foreign Policy Professors worried about CLIMATE CHANGE. (Oh, what do they know, right? Just keep on doin' nothin'. You can always LIE to your kids about your inaction.)

Inside the Ivory Tower

By Daniel Maliniak, Amy Oakes, Susan Peterson, Michael J. Tierney
Page 1 of 2
March/April 2009
Our third exclusive survey of international relations professors reveals they're worried about climate change, Russia's rise, and their own irrelevance.

WORLD WILDLIFE F: Clinton’s Asia Trip Reflects New Era of Climate Leadership... (What if Obama Admin Fails, AND YOU'VE STAYED ON THE SIDELINES? What will you say?)

 World Wildlife Fund

WWF: Clinton's Asia Trip Reflects New Era of Climate Leadership by U.S., Lays Groundwork for Global Accord

Secretary of State, Climate Change Envoy to Discuss Urgency of Climate Crisis with Asian Leaders

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Obama Administration's first diplomatic mission abroad, in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is traveling to four Asian countries to discuss international cooperation on climate change, is a clear signal that Washington has entered a new era of leadership on the climate crisis, said World Wildlife Fund officials.

NYT: E.P.A. To Revisit Approval Process for Coal-Fired Plants

National Briefing | Washington

Published: February 17, 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency inched closer to the possible regulation of emissions of heat-trapping gases from coal-fired power plants. Lisa Jackson, the new administrator of the agency, granted a petition by the Sierra Club to reconsider a controversial memorandum related to coal plant emissions that was issued in December by her predecessor, Stephen L. Johnson. Mr. Johnson's memorandum, which remains in effect, prevents the federal approval process for power plants from taking into consideration the emission of carbon dioxide. Although the agency explicitly declined to suspend the memorandum, environmentalists embraced the granting of the petition as another step in their efforts to stop the construction of coal-fired power plants. The agency now plans to seek public comment on issues in the original memorandum and related matters.

ENS: Obama Shifts U.S. Policy to Back Global Mercury Control Treaty
NAIROBI, Kenya, February 16, 2009 (ENS) - The Obama administration has reversed the former U.S. position on limiting mercury pollution worldwide. Before astonished environment ministers attending the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council opening session in Nairobi today, the U.S. delegation endorsed negotiations for a new global treaty to control mercury pollution, to begin this year.

The Bush administration had opposed legally binding measures to control mercury, despite broad support among a majority of countries in the UNEP Governing Council.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the mercury policy framework is the result of seven years of intense discussions spearheaded by UNEP represents the first, coordinated global effort to tackle mercury pollution.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner share a smile on their way to the opening session of the UNEP Governing Council today in Nairobi. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

"It covers reducing demand in products and processes - such as high intensity discharge vehicle lamps and the chlor-alkali industry - to cutting mercury in international trade," Steiner said. "Other elements include reducing emissions to the atmosphere, environmentally-sound storage of stockpiled mercury and the cleaning-up of contaminated sites."

The nervous systems of humans and wildlife are very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, lungs, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that mercuric chloride and methylmercury are possible human carcinogens.

Among the 120 other countries that have expressed support for a legally binding agreement on mercury are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Environmental groups from the United States and around the world applauded the U.S. policy change.

"The Obama administration has clearly shown a new day has dawned for U.S. leadership and engagement with the rest of the world," said Michael Bender, director of the U.S.-based Mercury Policy Project, and a coordinator of the international Zero Mercury Working Group. "And the momentum created by the U.S. appears to be galvanizing other governments around the world to step up to address the global mercury crisis."

Mercury poisoning affects about five million American women. One study in the United States has found that about one in 12 women have mercury levels above the level considered safe by the U.S. EPA.

"Skeptics doubted that the U.S. position on mercury could change so quickly, but the Obama administration made it happen in record time," said Susan Egan Keane of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "They've shown that Obama is serious about a new approach of cooperation and collaboration, rather than obstruction and unilateral action, on the international stage."

The Harrison power plant in West Virginia burns bituminous coal, emitting mercury into the air.

Mercury is a persistent, bioaccumulative, transboundary pollutant that contaminates air, soil, water and fish. Of the 6,000 metric tonnes of mercury entering the environment annually, some 2,000 tonnes comes from coal-fired power stations and coal fires in homes, says Steiner. Once in the atmosphere or released down river systems, the toxin can travel for thousands of miles.

There are also growing worries that, as climate change melts the Arctic, mercury trapped in the ice and sediments is being re-released back into the oceans and into the food chain.

"Because of this potential for global contamination, mercury pollution requires a coordinated international response, including a legally-binding treaty on mercury," said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, project coordinator of the Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau. This coalition includes 143 member organizations in 31 European countries.

Eating advisories relating to fish consumption remain in place in many European countries warning those at risk including pregnant mothers and babies not to consume fish at the top of the food chain that concentrate mercury from all the smaller fish they have eaten.

In Sweden, for example around 50,000 lakes have pike with mercury levels exceeding international health limits. Women of child-bearing years are advised not to eat pike, perch, burbot and eel at all, and the rest of the population only once a week.

The UNEP mercury policy framework has the support of 53 countries in Africa.

Rico Euripidou of groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa believes that "a comprehensive solution to address mercury will directly benefit Africa through the control of unregulated and uncontrolled flows of mercury onto the continent."

Worldwide there are approximately 50 mercury cell chlor alkali plants in operation, six in the United States. This is Olin Corporation's plant in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo courtesy Oceana)

Scientists and the NGO Sharkproject are also now flagging yet another cause for concern - the increased consumption of shark meat in some parts of the world. By some estimates shark meat contains up to 40 times more mercury than recommended food safety limits and perhaps a great deal more, said Steiner.

Mercury levels in Arctic ringed seals and beluga whales have increased by up to four times over the last 25 years in some areas of Canada and Greenland with implications for communities where marine mammals are eaten.

Steiner says the good news is that both Europe and the United States have in recent months backed export bans on mercury with the European Union setting a date of 2011.

The U.S. delegation's proposal on mercury requests the UNEP Executive Director to conduct, concurrent with the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, a study to inventory facilities in sectors including coal-fired power plants, cement production, and non-ferrous metals mining and production in major mercury-emitting countries.

"For all sectors, but especially coal-combustion, the study should include analysis of the levels of existing emissions controls, and the potential to achieve further mercury emission reductions," the U.S. proposal states.

"The study should also assess the costs and effectiveness of alternative control strategies, considering mercury-specific controls, and reductions that can be achieved as a co-benefit from conventional pollution control measures as well as the relationship with actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the U.S. proposes.

The U.S. requests that the report be prepared to inform the work of the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, and that the Executive Director report the findings of the study at the 2010 UNEP Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

MSNBC: EPA to review Bush rule on warming emissions

Environmental groups expect curbs on coal-fired power plants

Image: Coal-fired power plant
Coal-fired power plants like this one in York Haven, Pa., emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas tied to global warming.
Carolyn Kaster / AP file

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updated 12:46 p.m. ET, Tues., Feb. 17, 2009

The Obama administration on Tuesday agreed to review whether it should regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, portending a major reversal of the Bush administration's policy on global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency granted a petition from environmental groups seeking to overturn a Bush-era EPA memo that prohibited controls of those emissions.

"I am granting this petition because we must learn more about how this memo affects all relevant stakeholders impacted by its provisions," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

Sierra Club lawyer David Bookbinder welcomed the move, saying it "stops the Bush administration's final, last-minute effort to saddle President Obama with its do-nothing policy on global warming."

"With coal-fired power plants emitting more than 30 percent of our global warming pollution, regulating their carbon dioxide is essential to making real progress in the fight against global warming," he said in a statement.

The petition was filed by the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. The groups had sued to overturn the Bush-era rule in court, but said the litigation would now be put on hold as a result of the EPA decision.

Ex-chief chastised
In a letter to the petitioners Tuesday, Jackson noted that on Dec. 18 outgoing EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson issued the rule despite a finding by the EPA's own Environmental Appeals Board that "EPA had not adequately explained why the program did not apply to carbon dioxide."

Bookbinder said he expects the EPA to eventually regulate carbon dioxide from coal plants, in part because the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 said the authority to do so existed.

"Today's announcement should cast significant further doubt on the approximately 100 coal-fired power plants that the industry is trying to rush through the permitting process without any limits on carbon dioxide," Bookbinder said.

Fears of 'costly' result
Industry representatives did not immediately react to today's decision, but they had earlier praised Johnson's December rule restricting emissions controls.

If the EPA had determined the Clean Air Act could be used to place limits on carbon dioxide, many other sources beyond power plants would have been impacted, Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an association of power companies, said at the time.

"A contrary result might have caused office and apartment buildings, schools and hospitals, and over 20 different industrial sectors to be subject to costly and inflexible permitting requirements," Segal said.

Reversing Bush
The Obama administration has moved quickly to reverse or reconsider Bush-era environmental policies.

On Feb. 6, the EPA said it would consider more stringent mercury controls at power plants and agreed to reconsider whether to grant California and other states the authority to cut C02 emissions by new cars and light trucks — a request the Bush administration had denied.

Also this month, the Interior Department withdrew oil and natural gas drilling leases near two national parks in Utah. And it shelved a draft plan to open much of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling.