Blue Marble - February 2007

Bush Administration Sees New Climate Change Report, Says, "Whatever"

| Fri Feb. 2, 2007 1:31 PM PST

From the AP, via Yahoo! News:

White House rejects mandatory CO2 caps
Despite a strongly worded global warming report from the world's top climate scientists, the Bush administration expressed continued opposition Friday to mandatory reductions in heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases.

Sigh. Why expect anything else? By the way, one of the reasons the Bushies have put forward for why we don't need CO2 caps is that they are already doing enough.

"This administration's aggressive, yet practical strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is delivering real results," added Stephen Johnson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Uh huh. Check out this massive Mother Jones report called "George W. Bush's Ungreening of America" to know why that's a load of crock. Also check out the archives at the bottom of our new Environment and Health page for everything you need to know.

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Democratic Congress Brings Possible Relief for the Oceans

| Fri Feb. 2, 2007 12:56 PM PST

The Joint Oceans Commission, created three years ago after two high-profile reports recommended sweeping changes in the ways the nation's coastal waters are managed, just came out with its most recent report card on the Bush administration's oceans policies. This year the average grade was a C-, a slight improvement over last year's D+ but a far cry from the comprehensive policy changes that are needed to thwart the ocean's imminent collapse.

The reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation's primary law regulating fisheries, was a good start, and House Democrats are now pressing on with more ocean-friendly bills. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) just reintroduced OCEANS-21, a comprehensive ocean management reform bill that has been stagnating in the Republican-controlled Congress since 2004. The legislation would unify ocean management under a national oceans policy, develop regional ecosystem plans, boost conservation funding, and significantly strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the primary federal oversight agency which has long been starved for resources.

It's about time.

-- Ana Mileva

Oil Lobby Offerring $10,000 to Anyone Who Will Debunk New Global Warming Report

| Fri Feb. 2, 2007 11:27 AM PST

This shouldn't comes as a surprise. We reported in 2005 that ExxonMobil was a primary funder of the global warming deniers, and when there is a new report out of this magnitude, effectively burying any doubt that humans cause global warming and that catastrophic effects will result from inaction.... you knew something like this would happen.

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.
The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft last year and invited to comment.
The AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees.
The letters, sent to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere, attack the UN's panel as "resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work" and ask for essays that "thoughtfully explore the limitations of climate model outputs."
Climate scientists described the move yesterday as an attempt to cast doubt over the "overwhelming scientific evidence" on global warming. "It's a desperate attempt by an organisation who wants to distort science for their own political aims," said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

You can read the whole article at the UK Guardian. It's probably worth pointing out that Mother Jones doesn't receive money from anyone in order to fight against all this nonsense, and only wishes it could pay scientists and writers $10,000 to publish with us.

Oceans Will Keep Rising For 1,000 Years (And That's the Good Scenario)

| Thu Feb. 1, 2007 10:02 PM PST

"250+ scientific experts; 800+ contributing authors; 450+ lead authors; 130 countries; 6 years; 4 volumes; 1 report."

That's how the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is pimping the release of "Climate Change 2007," the fourth assessment report from the most authoritative climate change group. All this week, 500 scientists have been working in Paris, making the final edits to the report being released today. You can click here to find the report itself, but it seems that most of the key findings have leaked out.

Highlights, if they can be called that, include the finding that an increase in hurricane and tropical cyclone strength since 1970 "more likely than not" can be attributed to man-made global warming. The panel's last report, in 2001, said that there was not enough evidence then to support that claim.

According to Reuters, "It is very likely that (human) greenhouse gases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century," according to a final draft. "Very likely" means a probability of at least 90 percent -- up from a judgment of "likely", or a 66 percent probability, in the previous 2001 report. The Paris study, looking at the science of global warming, will also project a "best estimate" that temperatures will rise by 3 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2100 over pre-industrial levels, the biggest change in a century for thousands of years."

And the millenium of seas rising? That's assuming we can stabilize greenhouse gas emissions this century, which based on the level of obfuscation and inactivity of the world's leading greenhouse gas belcher, is no sure thing.

Valdez Spill, Undiminished, Turns Exxon a Profit

| Thu Feb. 1, 2007 2:03 PM PST


Exxon reports that it earned $39.5 billion in 2006, giving the company the most profitable year ever for a US corporation. This mammoth figure has overshadowed other Exxon related news released today. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study has found that lingering crude oil from the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 has barely budged. NOAA research chemist Jeffrey Short explained, "We expected the natural decay rate was 25% a year. But very little of the oil actually disappeared. What's left is going to be there a long time." Researchers now estimate that the oil is weathering at a rate of only 3% to 4% a year.

Continuing its campaign of disinformation about all things environmental, Exxon spokesman Mark Boudreaux refuted the findings' importance in an e-mail to USA Today: "There have been nearly 350 conference presentations or publications in peer-reviewed journals. Based on that body of scientific evidence, it is clear that there have been no effects on the environment that remain ecologically significant."

How has Exxon remained so profitable, especially when it was responsible for the nation's largest oil spill? It doesn't hurt that the company managed to turn clean-up costs and legal fines it accrued in the aftermath of the disaster into tax write-offs. Additionally, by stretching its payments on a punitive damages settlement over 10 years, Exxon was able to collect millions in interest on money it had yet to pay.

--Celia Perry