Category Archives: global warming/environment

Renewable energy: still a joke to Bush, Congress

Andrew Revkin:

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory were heartened when $34 million of new money was included in their latest science budget last year. But Arthur J. Nozik, 71, a chemical physicist there, notes that this is roughly the cost of one F-18 jetfighter. In the end, only $8 million was authorized by Congress in 2007.

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Guns or butter? Bombs or healthcare? participatory democracy or plutocracy/fascism?

Washington Post talks about Clinton and Obama tying the economy to the war in Iraq.

That is getting close to what this election is about. This election is fundamentally about the survival of this nation as a good place to live and as a positive force in the world.

There are two directions we can go. The first is the Bush/McCain way. We can allow entrenched multinational corporations to run our country in the best interest of their short term profits. This will involve using our tax dollars to maintain our control of the world and its resources by military might, and we will press on with fossil based fuels that we will try to steal from others. This will require enormous military expenditures, and a virtual fascist state. The world will be our enemy, and we will be perpetually at war. This will entail loss of our freedoms and civil rights, domestic spying, racial and religious intolerance, and turning away from transparency, and from intellectual and scientific pursuits. History and reality will be defined by the ruling class.

Our citizens will do without healthcare coverage, and major illnesses will result in bankrupcy for all but the wealthy.  Our country will eventually go bankrupt, our currency will be worthless, and social security will vanish. We will do nothing to mitigate global warming.

Our citizens are already fed up with the corruption and sleazy politics, and our young people are turned off by, and to, the democratic process. Election of John McCain will further entrench those attitudes.

The other way is to elect someone who represents and gives hope to young people, who will go to the polls, who will demand some say in their future, who will demand that their tax dollars buy something useful, like universal healthcare. This way sees the rest of the world as a partner, not a slave or a colony. This way sees change as necessary, and will put money into generating new solutions, rather than holding on to the fossil fuels of the past and present. This approach will revitalize our economy. This is the way (we hope) Barack Obama can lead us. Some fear that he has not had enough experience. What presidents in the past have had “enough” experience? Lincoln? FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? Kennedy? Reagan? By the time you get a candidate with “enough” experience, they are in their sixties, and unable to inspire and lead those to whom the country really belongs.

Barack Obama has a record as an intelligent and responsible leader, and is an inspiring person. He connects with the young; he can bring them into the process. He is the hope of this country and, I dare say, the world. It took me a while to figure out what Obama’s message was about…it seemed like empty rhetoric…but now I get it.  This is about mobilizing our people, and taking back our country.  It’s leadership. Hillary Clinton is not the person who can do this. She represents the aspirations of millions of women, but she just can’t inspire large numbers of people to enter the system. Perhaps that is sad. Already she has become a less admirable figure, because of the lies and slurs she has employed in the campaign.  She cannot bring more people into the process and she cannot win against John McCain, even if she were to defeat Obama for the nomination by sleazy tactics.

It seems ironic that Texas would be the state that can decide the issue. A year ago, who would have expect that an African American could win a primary there? No one who has ever lived there, I can tell you that. But let’s see if it happens. It would be a powerful statement.

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Film review: Persepolis

This is a feature-length black and white animation in French, with subtitles. It is the story of a girl growing up in post-Shah Iran. The film is surprisingly moving at times, and generally informative, but it is rather long and, let’s face it, a little boring. It has won a number of awards, and rightly so, but don’t expect miracles.

I am constantly annoyed by the portrayal of Iranian history as starting at the time the Shah was overthrown. The overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Iran by Britain and the US, and the installation of the Shah, set the stage for the revolution and repression that has followed. It’s all about the oil, today as it was back in the 50’s. Don’t let the oily president and vice president of the US fool you.

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Royal Dutch Shell: Oil production can’t keep up, by 2015

London Times:

World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

The oil multinational is predicting that conventional supplies will not keep pace with soaring population growth and the rapid pace of economic development.

Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, said in an e-mail to the company’s staff this week that output of conventional oil and gas was close to peaking. He wrote: “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”

The boss of the world’s second-largest oil company forecast that, regardless of government policy initiatives and investment in renewables, the world would need more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands.

“Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue,” he wrote.

Mr van der Veer is expected to discuss Shell’s energy outlook today at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In his e-mail, which was reported on RoyalDutchShellplc.com, an independent website that monitors the company, Shell’s chief set out two scenarios for the world’s energy future.

The first scenario, “Scramble”, envisages a mad dash by nations to secure resources. With policymakers viewing energy as “a zero-sum game,” use of domestic coal and biofuels accelerates.

It is a world, said the Shell chief, where “policymakers pay little attention to energy consumption – until supplies run short.”

The alternative scenario, “Blue-prints”, envisages a world of political cooperation between governments on efficiency standards and taxes, a convergence of policies on emissions trading and local initiatives to improve environmental performance of buildings.

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Bush promises clean coal plant, then kills it

ThinkProgress 

During Monday’s State of the Union address, Bush said, “Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.”

Yet just 24 hours after his SOTU declaration, Bush’s Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman indicated the White House was pulling the plug on the ambitious FutureGen project, a clean coal plant that was touted as “the cleanest fossil fuel fired power plant in the world.”

In a meeting with lawmakers from Illinois — where FutureGen was set to be installed — Bodman “all but drove a stake in” the $1.5 billion project:

[Rep. Timothy] Johnson [R-IL] said Bodman told the group that he planned to disband FutureGen and go “in another direction.” At one point, Johnson and Bodman snapped at each other. At another, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat, told Bodman that “the first action taken by the president after the State of the Union was a series of broken promises.”

“In 25 years on Capitol Hill, I have never witnessed such a cruel deception,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, hinting at the administration’s political considerations for the project’s demise. “When the city of Mattoon, Illinois, was chosen over possible locations in Texas, the secretary of energy set out to kill FutureGen.”

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New study supports previous work: Antarctica is melting

link

A comprehensive study of Antarctica’s ice confirms that the polar cap is shrinking. In 2006 alone, Antarctica lost nearly 200 billion tonnes of ice, researchers say — the equivalent of a global sea level rise of more than half a millimetre. That’s 75% more than losses in 1996, they add.

The study follows on a 2006 report that also concluded the rate of ice loss from glaciers melting and sliding away is greater than the gain from snow (see “Antarctica is shrinking”). That report concluded that from 2002 to 2005, Antarctica lost an average of 152 cubic kilometres (139 billion tonnes) a year.

“It reinforces the finding that the Antarctic is losing mass — which is still not a well-accepted result,” says Eric Rignot, an ice sheet expert at the University of California at Irvine and head of the team that reports the new result today in Nature Geoscience 1. “Doing it with an independent technique is very important,” he adds. Both groups used satellite data, but based on different techniques.

Andrew Shepherd, who studies global ice sheet dynamics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, says Rignot’s findings are in good agreement with his2 and other recent studies. He says the net losses in ice mass are very similar to losses he has calculated for Greenland (see “Glacial pace picks up”).

Isabella Velicogna, now a colleague of Rignot’s at Irvine, led the 2006 work that also showed Antarctic ice loss. Her study was based on gravity measurements and had more data points, but over a shorter time period. She says her and Rignot’s results are in good agreement. “We’re both seeing a trend that is significant.”

The IPCC report (which is proving to be too conservative) did not suggest that Antarctic melting was imminent. But it’s happening.  Rignot:

“Each time I look at some new data, I am astonished.”

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Yes, it is getting warmer

The deny-ers have a new tactic; contending that warming has stopped. No.

1998 was a very warm year, yes, and that was “above the curve”. Then temperatures dropped more to the trend line. And they are continuing to trend upwards. The red line shows the yearly average surface temperatures. The other lines show the long term trends for various periods, ie 5 years, ten years, etc. Climate is a long term trend.

Click to enlarge.

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2007 Smokey Awards

Background of the Smokies can be found here.

Previous winners and explanations of the awards are listed here.

Certainly this was a great year for Over the Line performances. Though we are anxious to recognize emerging stars, it was simply impossible to avoid naming two repeat winners. Choosing the winners was so difficult that an entirely new award had to be created. Even with that, OTLS! has had to ignore stellar work by the likes of Alberto Gonzales, Rudy Giuliani, Joe Klein, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

The 2007 Winners:
The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Business Achiever “Smokey”, again goes to: Keith Olbermann, for his continuing successful efforts to show America that the Emperor has no clothes, and for his continuing campaign to expose the mendacity of the Fox News Channel.

Variety Clubs International Achiever of the Year “Smokey”, to Dick Cheney, for his deceptive war-mongering campaign against Iran.

The Arthur Digby Sellers* lifetime achievement “Smokey”: To Karl Rove, a now-retired official of some branch of the government of the United States; in a career of evil-doing, lawlessness, corruption, sliming, mendacity, manipulation and darkness, Karl Rove was at the very center of a concerted effort to transform the United States of America into what amounts to a fascist state.

The Little Lebowski Urban Achiever “Smokey” for blogging: To Glenn Greenwald, for his consistent excellence in reporting both the lawlessness of the Bush administration and the sad state of American political journalism.

The Mrs. Jamtoss 5th Period** “Big Red Circled D“: again goes to George W. Bush, president of the United States and Leader of the Free World; this year, he receives the award for his obstruction of efforts to ameliorate future catastrophic global warming.

and, a new Smokey Award for this year: The Nihilist Award; for the person who demonstrated most convincingly that he believes in nothing. The 2007 winner is Alan Dershowitz, who advocated torture, his rationale being that it worked for the Nazis.

Congratulations to these great Over-the-liners; they have set the bar at a very high/low level. Next year’s winners are gonna be hard pressed to surpass these accomplishments.

The Smokey statuettes will be shipped COD to the winners, if they will provide their social security numbers and proof of insurability to Over the Line, Smokey! The Mrs. Jamtoss 5th Period “circled big red D” award will be placed in a ziploc bag, then locked in a briefcase, until the opening ceremonies of the George W. Bush Presidential Libeary Liebury, Lyebary place, when it will be presented to Mr. Bush, with the query, “Is this your homework?”

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Creationists apply for accreditation to grant degrees in science education in Texas

hmmm…..I guess they don’t teach about astronomy, biology, zoology, botany, genetics, paleontology, geology…or telling the truth…..

link

Science teachers are not allowed to teach creationism alongside evolution in Texas public schools, the courts have ruled. But that’s exactly what the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research wants them to do.

The institute is seeking state approval to grant an online master’s degree in science education to prepare teachers to “understand the universe within the integrating framework of Biblical creationism,” according to the school’s mission statement.

Last week, an advisory council made up of university educators voted to recommend the program for approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, sparking an outcry among science advocates who have fended off attempts by religious groups to insert creationism into Texas classrooms.

“It’s just the latest trick,” said James Bower, a neurobiologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has publicly debated creationists. “They have no interest in teaching science. They are hostile to science and fundamentally have a religious objective.”

Critics of evolution — the theory that life forms morphed slowly over time into their present forms — have ignited heated debates over the teaching of science in K-12 public schools.

The Institute for Creation Research, which recently moved to Dallas from Santee, Calif., says it teaches its graduate students “more typical secular perspectives” alongside creationism.

But students and faculty must profess faith in a literal translation of Biblical creation — that God created the world in six days and made humans and animals in their current life forms; that the Earth is only thousands of years old; and the fossil record is the result of a global flood described in the Bible, according to the Web site.

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2007 global temperatures on pace to be 2nd warmest in history.

Link

2005 is the warmest year in recorded history. Through November, NASA reports that 2007 is looking like it will be the second warmest. This at a time when solar activity is at a minimum. According to NASA, we would be even warmer but for the El Nina phenomenon.

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