Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The Newsroom" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>I watch too much TV drama, so I can say this with a degree of certainty: It's rare that climate change comes up. (Television news programs also contain "tepid" coverage, in general, <a href="" target="_blank">according to watchdog group Media Matters</a>). That's why it was so weird/exciting for this climate reporter when global warming received its very own subplot on Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama <em>The Newsroom</em> over the last two episodes.</p> <p>First, a little context: Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) is the show's once daffy news producer whose role this season seems exclusively designed to reverse earlier <a href="" target="_blank">charges of sexism against Sorkin</a>. She's now good at her job! During a convoluted scene on a train from Boston to New York, Maggie overhears and records a top EPA official talking shit on the phone about President Obama to another journalist, off-the-record. Even though that agreement of confidentiality doesn't extend to the other Amtrak passengers, she eventually tells the official she won't use his juicy Obama-dissing quotes. So impressed by her ethics, the official, Richard Westbrook (Paul Lieberstein), rewards her with a scoop: <em>an embargoed EPA report</em>. WHOA! WHAT A SCOOOOOP! (For the uninitiated, while a heads-up about a study is great to get a jump on your competition, reports are circulated and embargoed all the time). Anyway... Maggie also gets an exclusive interview with the official, the deputy assistant administrator of the EPA (WHAT A GET!) and in the most recent episode, she produces a segment for host Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) about the report's dire warnings.</p> <p>The scene is odd for a number of reasons.<em> The Newsroom </em>packages its drama based on last year's events, and at that time, the news that the world was approaching 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had been publicly anticipated for weeks. So, not a scoop in any way, or anything that anyone following the science didn't already know.</p> <p>But putting that aside, let's take a look at Sorkin's&nbsp;"facts", as presented in the episode. How do they measure up? Let's go line-by-line through the scene above.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact1-630px.jpg"></div> <p>In the weird parallel universe of <em>The</em> <em>Newsroom</em>, I'm not sure&nbsp;<em>when</em> these "latest measurements" were meant to have been taken. But he's right. <a href="" target="_blank">We covered this at the time</a>: The world passed that 400 ppm threshold&nbsp;for the first meaningful way in May 2013, when the&nbsp;daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide was higher than at any time in human history, according to&nbsp;the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The measurements are indeed taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii; you can follow what's known as the "Keeling Curve"&mdash;a measurement of atmospheric concentration of CO2&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">on Twitter</a>, naturally, thanks to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact2.jpg"></div> <p>Depends what you're defining as catastrophic failure, I suppose.&nbsp; Say you were born last year, when I assume this episode was meant to be set. If we follow along current emissions trends, the planet will be 3.96&deg;F-8.64&deg;F (2.2&deg;C&ndash;4.8&deg;C) hotter than preindustrial times by your retirement. (You can type your birth year <a href="" target="_blank">into this cool interactive</a>, driven by data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to check how hot it will be when you're old). That's above temperatures recommended to be in the supposedly "safe" zone by the IPCC, and could definitely result in a variety of "catastrophes" and "failures". As deaths increase due to things like extreme weather, droughts and wildfires, this statement seems true enough when applied to individual episodes of calamity, which will surely increase. (The number of annual deaths in the UK due to heat, <a href="" target="_blank">for example</a>, is predicted to rise by 257 per cent by 2050.) The EPA official is right, in one sense. But it's also arguable that deaths are <em>already</em> and <em>will continue</em> to be linked to climate change events. The line in the script infers the failure of the planet as a whole, which I think is artful flourish to illustrate just how glum this fellow is feeling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact3-630px.jpg"></div> <p>Yup. That's what the science says. The last time the atmosphere clocked 400 ppm it was 3 million years ago&mdash;the "Mid-Pliocene"&mdash;when sea levels were as much as 80 feet higher than today (see this 2007 <a href="" target="_blank">research</a> paper authored by a group led by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University.) I'd probably add an "around" or "about" before the "80 feet higher" in the above statement; the studies leave a margin of error. But this statement checks out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact4-630px.jpg"></div> <p>His point is sound, but I'd like to see the writers' sourcing&mdash;these numbers seem to date to <a href="" target="_blank">around the late 1990s</a>. According to a more recent <a href="" target="_blank">2011 NOAA report</a>, 55 percent of the world's population lives within 50 miles of the coast. The UN has a slightly different number: Over 40 percent of the world's population, or 3.1 billion, lives within 60 miles of the "ocean or sea in about 150 coastal and island nations." In the US, 39 percent of the nation's population lived in counties directly on the shoreline <a href="" target="_blank">in 2010</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact5-630px.jpg"></div> <p>That seems right.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact6-630px.jpg"></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank">There's consensus amongst 97 percent of climate scientists that global warming is happening and that's it's a manmade disaster</a>. And I've heard climate scientists use this analogy before. (For what it's worth, there are other things that can influence the boiling point of water, including altitude.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact7-630px.jpg"></div> <p>He's talking about the "carbon budget", and again this is sound, despite Newsman Will's growing anguish at a pretty devastating interview. The 565 gigaton number was popularized by Bill McKibben in a <a href="" target="_blank">2012 <em>Rolling Stone </em>article</a> that <em>Newsroom </em>writers seem to have read. The number is "derived from one of the most sophisticated computer-simulation models that have been built by climate scientists around the world over the past few decades" (done by financial analysis firm Carbon Tracker) and is what we can <em>add</em> into the atmosphere by mid-century and still have a reasonable chance of success of staying below that safe two degrees warming threshold. Our grumpy scientist is so despondent because, yes, 2,795 is the number of gigatons of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves in the hands of fossil-fuel companies and petrostates. In short, it's the fossil fuel we're currently planning to burn, writes McKibben. Carbon Tracker says <a href="" target="_blank">80 percent of these assets need to remain unburned</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact8-630px.jpg"></div> <p>All of these things are predicted by the IPCC&mdash;I mean, not the permanent darkness thing, I don't think that's meant to be scientific. But yes, <a href="" target="_blank">as we reported in May this year</a>, Europe faces freshwater shortages; Asia can expect more severe flooding from extreme storms; North America will see increased heat waves and wildfires, which can cause death and damage to ecosystems and property. Especially in poor countries, diminished crop yields will likely lead to increased malnutrition, which already affects nearly 900 million people worldwide.</p> <p>So, in all, well done <em>Newsroom</em>. Informative, accurate, if a little heavy-handed on the doom and gloom.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Media Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:29:36 +0000 James West 265381 at Video: A Drone Shoots Hauntingly Beautiful Footage of Buffalo's Snowstorm <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/buffalo2_0.jpg"><div class="caption">James Grimaldi/<a href="" target="_blank">YouTube</a></div> </div> <p>Flying personal camera-equipped drones directly over big events like the <a href="" target="_blank">Hong Kong protests</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Independence Day fireworks</a> is becoming commonplace. Now come these amazing aerial images of Buffalo, New York, besieged by snow for the third day in a row. The Buffalo area was coated with up to six feet of snow on Wednesday and there's been even more today. The <a href="" target="_blank">eighth storm-related death</a> was annouced this morning.</p> <p>When the storm first set in, James Grimaldi of West Seneca, New York, sent his drone into the blizzard to film a bizarre world drained of color, and uploaded the stunning results <a href=";list=UUTWvlmwg08ou6B3YOVeT9lw" target="_blank">to his YouTube channel</a>. (Grimaldi has also posted his drone videos to his <a href="" target="_blank">CNN's iReport page.</a>)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Grimaldi's second-day video reveals the vast extent of the snow, the result of a massive "<a href="" target="_blank">lake-effect snowfall event</a>". The houses now look like giant mushrooms:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>And finally, posted today, a new storm bearing down on Grimaldi's suburb:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>This weekend's forecasted rain won't help recovery efforts. "We're going to have a lot of water running off quickly," the Weather Channel's Wayne Verno <a href="" target="_blank">told NBC News</a>. "We'll more than likely see some flooding."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:02:44 +0000 James West 265221 at We Just Had the Hottest October on Record <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="october map" class="image" src="/files/october-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p><a href="" target="_blank">It's cold outside</a>, which means it'll soon be time for the <a href="" target="_blank">annual rousing chorus of climate change denial</a> from people who think snow means global warming is fake.</p> <p>Good thing NOAA is here to help. Today the agency released two new maps illustrating that even if you're cold right now, the planet is still getting hotter. In fact, 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.</p> <p>The map above shows where global temperatures for the month of October stood relative to the 20th century average. Overall, this was the warmest October since record-keeping began in 1880.</p> <p>And it's not just October that was remarkably warm. The entire year so far, since January, has also been the warmest on record&mdash;a good 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. If the trend persists, 2014 will <a href="" target="_blank">beat out 2010</a> as the hottest year on record:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="year map" class="image" src="/files/year-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:29:20 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265171 at Watch a Wall of Snow Consume Buffalo, N.Y. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today it is <a href="" target="_blank">literally freezing</a> in every state in America. But no where has been hit harder than Buffalo, New York, which yesterday got buried under 70 inches of snow. Yeah, seven-zero, as in nearly six feet. At least <a href="" target="_blank">six people there have died</a>, and one hundred are still trapped.</p> <p>The video below, from Buffalo-based producer Joseph DeBenedictis, shows yesterday's apocalyptic storm sweeping across the city. The insane snowfall was brought on by something called the "lake effect," which could grow more severe with global warming&mdash;our friend Eric Holthaus at <em>Slate</em> <a href="" target="_blank">has the details on that</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:59:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265056 at BREAKING: The Senate Just Voted Not to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>UPDATE </strong></em><strong>(</strong><em><strong>11/18/14, 6:17 pm ET</strong></em><strong>)</strong><em><strong>:</strong> A controversial bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline failed in the US Senate Tuesday evening. It received 59 "aye" votes, just shy of the 60 needed to send the bill to President Obama's desk. The fight isn't over yet; Republicans have said they plan to prioritize approving the pipeline once they take control of the Senate next year.</em></p> <p>Below the headlines last week about President Obama's <a href="" target="_blank">major climate agreement with China</a>, another environmental story was gaining steam: a vote in Congress to force approval of Keystone XL, a controversial pipeline that would carry crude oil from Canada down to refineries on the Gulf Coast. On Friday, the House voted <a href="" target="_blank">overwhelmingly in favor of the pipeline</a>, as it has done numerous times in the past. The Senate is expected to vote on an identical bill today. Previous Keystone legislation has always stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Democrats. But the vote Tuesday will likely have more Democratic support than ever before, making it the closest the pipeline has yet come to approval.</p> <p>Here's what you need to know:</p> <p><strong>What's happening with Keystone this week?</strong><br> As of Sunday, <a href="" target="_blank">according to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)</a>, the bill is still one vote shy of the 60 it would need to break a Senate filibuster, pass Congress, and land on the president's desk. If enacted, the legislation would green-light a construction permit for the pipeline, removing that authority from the State Department, which currently has the final say because the project crosses an international border. President Obama has said that his administration would only approve the project if it didn't increase total US carbon emissions; a <a href="" target="_blank">State Department report in January</a> suggested that the pipeline was unlikely to affect America's carbon footprint because the oil it would carry would get exported and burned one way or the other. But the final decision was <a href="" target="_blank">postponed indefinitely</a> in April and is awaiting the outcome of a court case in Nebraska that could alter the pipeline's route. Congressional Republicans have accused Obama of willfully kicking the decision down the road for as long as possible; on Thursday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) <a href="" target="_blank">said this week's vote was long overdue</a> after years of the administration "dragging its feet."</p> <p><strong>Why is the vote happening now?</strong><br> When Republicans take control of the Senate next year, with <a href="" target="_blank">a host of new climate skeptics</a> in tow, they could pass a new round of Keystone legislation&mdash;perhaps even with <a href="" target="_blank">enough support to override a presidential veto</a>. So why rush? The answer revolves around the Senate race in Louisiana, where incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu is locked in a runoff campaign with Republican challenger Bill Cassidy, who currently serves in the House. The special election is scheduled for December 6, and Landrieu <a href="" target="_blank">appears to be trailing Cassidy</a>. Landrieu represents a state with close ties to the oil industry, and she has long been one of the pipeline's most vocal advocates. Last week she introduced the Keystone bill in what <a href="" target="_blank">many</a> <a href="" target="_blank">on</a> <a href="" target="_blank">Capitol Hill</a> have described as a last-ditch political maneuver to score points with her constituents before the runoff. Cassidy introduced the House version of the bill shortly thereafter.</p> <p>This morning, anti-pipeline activists set up shop in front of Landrieu's residence in Washington:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>A pipeline has gone up on Sen Landrieu's front lawn as ClimateChange activists protest expected up vote <a href="">@350</a> <a href="">#NoKXL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; john zangas (@johnzangas) <a href="">November 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>If the bill passes, will President Obama sign it into law?</strong><br> Probably not. At a <a href="" target="_blank">press conference in Burma last week</a>, Obama said that his "position hasn't changed" and that the approval process should go through the proper State Department channels. It's hard to imagine that after all of Obama's statements on Keystone's carbon footprint, the approval process, and his <a href="" target="_blank">series of</a> <a href="" target="_blank">climate promises</a> last week, he would capitulate on the pipeline merely for the benefit of one Senate Democrat who appears <a href="" target="_blank">unlikely to win anyway</a>. It seems more likely that he would save Keystone approval as a bargaining chip to keep the GOP-run Congress from <a href="" target="_blank">attacking his other hard-won</a> <a href="" target="_blank">climate initiatives</a>. We'll have to wait and see how this all plays out over the next few days.</p> <p><em>Update: I joined <a href="" target="_blank">Huffington Post Live</a> this morning to talk about today's Senate vote: </em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="321" scrollable="no" src=";autoPlay=false" width="570"></iframe></p> <p><em>This post has been updated. </em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Energy Infrastructure Mon, 17 Nov 2014 20:19:05 +0000 Tim McDonnell 264891 at Two Charts That Show How the US Is Shortchanging the World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="pledges" class="image" src="/files/pledges-1.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p>This morning, the <em>New York Times</em> reported that President Obama is <a href="" target="_blank">poised to announce a pledge</a> of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations-administered account to help poor countries deal with climate change. That's the biggest single pledge of any country so far (see chart above); it doubles the total size of the fund and is a major step toward the UN's target of raising $15 billion before next month's climate talks in Lima, Peru. Other notable carbon emitters, such as the UK, are expected to announce contributions by the end of next week.</p> <p>But viewed in a different context, the US contribution looks much less impressive. The <a href="" target="_blank">idea behind the fund</a> is to reconcile one of the cruel ironies of climate change: Many of the nations that will be hit hardest by global warming&mdash;countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, for example&mdash;have done very little to cause the problem. Bangladesh&nbsp;was <a href="" target="_blank">recently ranked</a> as the country that is most vulnerable to climate change, but its <a href="" target="_blank">per-capita carbon dioxide emissions</a> are 44 times smaller than the&nbsp;US's per-capita emissions, according to the World Bank. So the fund is meant to bridge the gap between the rich countries whose carbon pollution causing climate change and the poor countries that are suffering from it.</p> <p>As the chart below shows, the US's contribution to the Green Climate Fund looks a lot smaller when it's adjusted to take into account America's extremely high emissions:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="relative" class="image" src="/files/climate-pledges-4.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p>Cumulatively since 1980&mdash;the earliest year for which consistent data from the Energy Information Administration is available&mdash;the US has emitted more carbon than any other country, including China. (In 2008, China overtook the US as the leading annual carbon polluter). So it's probably fair to say that the US is more to blame for global warming than any other single country. And yet Obama's pledge to the Green Climate Fund only translates to about $17,100 per million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted from 1980 to 2012&mdash;placing it ninth among the 13 countries that have announced pledges.&nbsp;That's a bit like crashing a friend's car and only offering to pay to fix the steering wheel. By contrast, Sweden's pledge equates to $292,000 per million tons of CO2 emissions&mdash;17 times greater than the US pledge.</p> <p>It's great and necessary that Obama is willing to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. But I think it's fair to say the US is getting away pretty cheap.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Obama Fri, 14 Nov 2014 22:15:25 +0000 Tim McDonnell 264821 at Obama Is About to Make the World's Biggest Pledge to Help Poor Countries Fight Climate Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>What a week! First President Barack Obama announces a massive climate agreement with China designed to lower both countries' carbon emissions while doubling down on clean energy development. Now this morning, the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York Times </em>is reporting</a> that the president will soon announce a $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, a <a href="" target="_blank">UN-administered account</a> that will help developing countries clean their energy sectors and adapt to the impacts of global warming.</p> <p>A $3 billion pledge from the United States would double the size of the fund; the biggest donations up to this point were $1 billion each from France and Germany. More countries are expected to make commitments at a UN meeting in Berlin next week. The fund's stated goal is to reach $15 billion before a key meeting next month in Lima, Peru.</p> <p>Obama's pledge "is a strong and important signal to developing countries that the US is serious ahead of climate negotiations in 2015," said Alex Doukas, a sustainable finance analyst at the World Resources Institute.</p> <p>From the <em>Times</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is not clear whether Mr. Obama's $3 billion pledge will come from existing sources of funding, or whether he will have to ask Congress to appropriate the money. Since 2010, the Obama administration has spent about $2.5 billion to help poor countries adapt to climate change and develop new clean sources of energy, but Republicans are certain to target additional requests for money linked to climate change and foreign aid.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there are still some details to work out. But like the US-China climate deal, the most immediate impact of this pledge announcement will be to encourage other countries to up the ante on their own commitments.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Obama Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:23:56 +0000 Tim McDonnell 264781 at Awkward: Watch a Supercut of Republicans Using China As an Excuse to Do Nothing About Climate Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/climate-deal-225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More coverage of the historic US-China climate deal. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-264546"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/11/obama-just-announced-historic-climate-deal-china"> The US and China Just Announced a Huge Deal on Climate&acirc;&#128;&#148;and It's a Game Changer</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264601"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/11/us-china-climate-pact-big-deal-it-seems"> Is the US-China Climate Pact as Big a Deal as It Seems?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264591"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/11/solar-nuclear-clean-coal-obama-china-climate-deal"> Obama's Deal With China Is a Big Win for Solar, Nuclear, and Clean Coal</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264556"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/11/awkward-supercut-republicans-using-china-excuse-climate-inaction"> Awkward: Watch a Supercut of Republicans Using China As an Excuse to Do Nothing About Climate Change</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-259261"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/09/china-us-fracking-shale-gas"> Deep Inside the Wild World of China's Fracking Boom</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-263496"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/11/solar-energy-power-boom-charts"> Here Comes the Sun: America's Solar Boom, in Charts</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">shock announcement</a> of an ambitious and wide-ranging climate deal between the United States and China is leaving one vociferous group of politicians red-faced: those that have always used China as an excuse for delaying climate action.</p> <p>The announcement between the two biggest emitters deals a blow to the oft-stated rhetoric that the US must wait for China before bringing domestic climate legislation. And vice versa: China has long used US inaction as an excuse too.</p> <p>Not anymore.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video China Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:58:14 +0000 James West 264556 at Here's What It Looks Like When a Typhoon Devastates Your City <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Well before Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on November 8, 2013, weather watchers knew the storm would be terrible. But with more than 6,300 <a href="" target="_blank">confirmed deaths</a> and billions of dollars in damage, it turned out to be one of the worst natural disasters of the <a href="" target="_blank">decade</a>. The photos below show what the town of Dulag and the city of Tacloban looked like before and after Haiyan.</p> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter">Dulag</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">DigitalGlobe/Google</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter"><br> Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">DigitalGlobe/Google</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter"><br> Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">DigitalGlobe/Google</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter"><br> Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">DigitalGlobe/Google<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter">Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">DigitalGlobe/Google</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter"><br> Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">CNES-Astrium/Google</div> </div> <h3 class="subhed rtecenter"><br> Tacloban</h3> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""><div class="caption">CNES-Astrium/Google</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 07 Nov 2014 22:30:45 +0000 Alex Park 264361 at Meet the Senate's New Climate Denial Caucus <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Well, folks, it wasn't such a <a href="" target="_blank">great night on the climate action</a> front. It looks like the millions of dollars that environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer invested in the midterms <a href="" target="_blank">didn't buy much</a> other than a fledgling political infrastructure to sock away for 2016. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, we're likely to see a bill to push through the Keystone XL pipeline coming down the pike soon. And Mitch McConnell, probably the coal industry's biggest booster, retained his seat.</p> <p>In fact, McConnell and his climate-denying colleague James Inhofe of Oklahoma&mdash;the <a href="" target="_blank">likely chair</a> of the Senate's Environment and Public Works committee&mdash;won a lot of new friends on Capitol Hill last night. It probably won't surprise you to learn that most of the Senate's newly elected Republicans are big boosters of fossil fuels and don't agree with the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming. Here's an overview of their statements on climate change, ranging from a few who seem to at least partly accept to science to those who flat-out reject it.</p> <p><strong>Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska):</strong> In September, Sullivan, a former Alaska attorney general, said "<a href="" target="_blank">the jury's out</a>" on whether climate change is man-made. (Actually, <a href="" target="_blank">the jury came in</a>, for the umpteenth time, just this week.) He <a href="" target="_blank">repeated that position</a> last month, when he said the role human-caused greenhouse gases play in global warming is "<span class="updated">a question scientists are still debating," adding that "we shouldn't lock up America's resources and kill tens of thousands of good jobs by continuing to pursue the President's anti-energy policies."</span></p> <p><strong><span class="updated">Tom Cotton (R-Ark.): </span></strong><span class="updated">Cotton has seized on a <a href="" target="_blank">common but misleading notion</a> among climate change deniers: "</span><a href="" target="_blank">The simple fact is that for the last 16 years the earth's temperature has not warmed</a>." He admits, however, that "it's most likely that human activity has contributed to some of" the temperature increase of the last hundred years. Still, he supports building new coal plants and <a href="" target="_blank">the Keystone XL pipeline</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span class="updated">Cory Gardner (R-Colo.): </span></strong><span class="updated">Gardner is shifty on the issue. In a debate last month, he <a href="" target="_blank">wouldn't give a straight yes-or-no answer</a> on whether mankind has contributed to global warming. </span>"I believe that the climate is changing, I disagree to the extent that it's been in the news," that humans are responsible, he said. Yet at the same time, <a href="" target="_blank">he admitted that "pollution contributes"</a> to climate change. Gardner doesn't seem interested in cleaning up that pollution: <a href="" target="_blank">Last year he said</a> the Obama administration is waging "a war on the kind of energy we use every day&mdash;fossil fuels&hellip; because they want to tell us how we live our lives."</p> <p><strong><span class="updated">David Perdue (R-Ga.)</span>: </strong>"In science, there's an active debate going on" about whether climate change is real, <a href="" target="_blank">Perdue told <em>Slate</em> this year</a>, adding that if there <em>are</em> climate-related impacts to Georgia's coast, some smart person will figure out how to deal with them. Perdue has <a href="" target="_blank">also slammed the Obama administration</a> for waging a "war on coal" and has called the EPA's new carbon emission rules "<a href="" target="_blank">shortsighted</a>."</p> <p><strong><span class="updated">Joni Ernst (R-Iowa): </span></strong>Ernst is another rider on the "I don't know" bandwagon. "I don't know the science behind climate change," she <a href="" target="_blank">told an audience</a> in September. She also hedged the question beautifully in a <a href="" target="_blank">May interview with <em>The Hill</em></a>: "I haven't seen proven proof that it is entirely man-made." But she supports recycling!</p> <p><strong>Bill Cassidy/Mary Landrieu (La.): </strong>This race <a href="" target="_blank">is going to a runoff</a>. Landrieu, the incumbent Democrat, has never been much of a climate hawk&mdash;she <a href="" target="_blank">recently said</a> humans do contribute to observed climate change but criticized Obama for "<a href=";id=3837" target="_blank">singling out</a>" the oil industry for regulation. But at least she's better on global warming than Cassidy, her Republican challenger, who flatly denies that climate change exists. He <a href="" target="_blank">said last month</a> that <span itemprop="articleBody">"global temperatures have not risen in 15 years."</span></p> <p><strong>Steve Daines (R-Mont.): </strong>Daines is a harsh critic of Obama's energy and climate policies, which <a href="" target="_blank">he said</a> "threaten nearly 5,000 Montana jobs and would cause Montana's electricity prices to skyrocket." While in the House, he <a href="" target="_blank">signed a pledge that</a> he will "oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue." He believes global warming, to the extent that it exists, is <a href="" target="_blank">probably caused by solar cycles</a>.</p> <p><strong><span class="updated">Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): </span></strong><span class="updated">During a North Carolina Republican primary </span>debate, all four candidates <a href="" target="_blank">laughed out loud</a> when asked if they believed climate change is a "fact." Ha! Ha! Then they all said, "No." Later, Tillis <a href="" target="_blank">expanded on that position</a>, arguing in a debate with his Democratic rival, Sen. Kay Hagan, that "the point is the liberal agenda, the Obama agenda, the Kay Hagan agenda, is trying to use [climate change] as a Trojan horse for their energy policy."</p> <p><strong>Ben Sasse (R-Neb.):</strong> Sasse hasn't said much about climate science, but he <a href="" target="_blank">supports building</a> the Keystone XL pipeline and opening up more federal land for oil and gas drilling. He also wants to "encourage the production of coal."</p> <p><strong><span class="updated">James Lankford (R-Okla.): </span></strong>As a member of the House, Lankford <a href="" target="_blank">called global warming a "myth</a>." He also, <a href="" target="_blank">along with Gardner, Cotton, Shelley Moore Capito (R. W.Va.), Cassidy, and Daines</a>, voted to prevent the Pentagon from considering the national security impacts of global warming, even though top Defense Department officials have <a href="" target="_blank">repeatedly issued warnings</a> that climate change could worsen conflicts around the world. Lankford also floated an amendment to an energy appropriations bill that <a href="" target="_blank">would have blocked funding for research</a> related to the social costs of carbon pollution.</p> <p><strong>Mike Rounds (R-S.D.): </strong>Rounds appears to accept at least some of the science on climate change. As governor of South Dakota, Rounds <a href="" target="_blank">said that</a> "there are a number of different causes that we recognize, and the scientists recognize, are the cause of global warming," and that humans are "absolutely" one of those. He <a href="" target="_blank">fervently supports</a> the Keystone pipeline.</p> <p><strong>Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.): </strong>In a debate last month, Capito said, "<a href="" target="_blank">I don't necessarily think the climate's changing, no</a>." Then she clarified that her opinion might change with the weather: "Yes it's changing, it changes all the time, we heard it raining out there," she said. "I'm sure humans are contributing to it." I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Capito is also a <a href="" target="_blank">founding member</a> of the Congressional Coal Caucus.</p> <p><em>This post has been updated. </em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Elections Top Stories Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:43:26 +0000 Tim McDonnell 264136 at Will Snow Ruin Your Halloween? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow forecasr" class="image" src="/files/snow-forecast-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The snow forecast from today through the weekend. This data represents a worst-case scenario; there's a 95 percent change there will be less snow than this. </strong>National Weather Service</div> </div> <p>Happy Halloween! Hope you have a good costume lined up that isn't this horrible <a href="" target="_blank">"sexy Ebola nurse"</a> one. Anyway, this year the weather seems pretty determined to mess with your trick-or-treating plans: We've already seen <a href="" target="_blank">pumpkin prices spike</a> thanks to the ongoing drought in California. And now it seems that a snowstorm is headed for the Midwest and East Coast. But fear not: It's unlikely that the goblins and witches in NYC, DC, and other eastern cities will get hit too hard tomorrow night.</p> <p>The map above is the <a href=";fpd=72&amp;ptype=snow" target="_blank">most recent snow accumulation forecast</a> from the National Weather Service, a prediction of how many inches of snow are expected to fall between today and Sunday. It looks worse than it probably will be; this is the 95th-percentile estimate, meaning snowfall is 95 percent likely to be less severe than what is shown here. AccuWeather <a href="" target="_blank">has a good map</a> showing the trajectory of snowfall over the weekend, as it moves from the Appalachians on Friday up to Maine by Sunday. And the Weather Channel has a useful daily breakdown <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. The upshot is that Midwesterners should plan to bundle up, and Mainers could have snow by the end of the weekend, but East Coasters don't need to worry too much about snow-proofing their Halloween costumes.</p> <p>That said, even without snow it could still be cold and blustery, as our friend Eric Holthaus at <em>Slate </em><a href="" target="_blank">points out</a>. The <a href="" target="_blank">NASA satellite imagery</a> below depicts the Nor'easter currently straddling the eastern seaboard, which the latest NOAA forecast says will bring "much colder weather" and possibly some showers by Saturday. So whatever <a href="" target="_blank">ridiculous "sexy" costume</a> you decide to wear tomorrow, probably pack a sweater.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow halloween" class="image" src="/files/snow-halloween.gif"><div class="caption">NASA</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:11:24 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263621 at The Craziest Things Republican Candidates Have Said About Climate Change In One Video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a> <em>and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Can the GOP's 2014 candidates give a straight answer on climate change? It appears not.</p> <p>Many Republican candidates have offered roundabout answers to climate change questions. Some have said the climate isn't changing at all, while others have disputed research showing that human activity is driving those changes. Then there's Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), who said during a debate this year that he's confident our climate isn't changing because he has "Googled this issue."</p> <p>Lee Fang of <a href="" target="_hplink">The Republic Report</a> put together a mash-up of Republican candidates' greatest hits on climate change this year.</p> <p><em><strong>Watch it above.</strong></em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Elections Tue, 28 Oct 2014 20:52:38 +0000 Amber Ferguson 263456 at 5 New York Epidemics That Were Way Worse Than Ebola Will Be <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="board of health" class="image" src="/files/board-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An 1865 cartoon from <em>Harper's Weekly</em> ridicules the incompetence of the New York City Board of Health, first established to fight yellow fever. </strong>US National Library of Medicine</div> </div> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Ebola has arrived in New York City</a>. So should residents here be worried about a widespread outbreak? Almost certainly not: The disease is <a href="" target="_blank">not airborne</a>, and infected patients are only contagious once they show symptoms. Craig Spencer, the infected doctor in New York, has said he didn't have symptoms Wednesday night when he rode the subway between Manhattan and Brooklyn and went bowling. Three people he came into contact with, who have not shown symptoms, have been <a href="" target="_blank">placed in precautionary quarantine</a>. And unlike West Africa, where health care is sparse and low-quality, the US is well equipped to handle cases of the virus; the hospital where Spencer is being treated <a href="" target="_blank">has been preparing to treat Ebola patients</a>. (Public heath officials in the city <a href="" target="_blank">expected cases of Ebola to turn up sooner or later</a>.)</p> <p>But the prospect of a deadly disease outbreak in the Big Apple is still pretty scary, and the city hasn't always dodged the pathogen bullet. Here are a few epidemics in New York that were far worse than Ebola is likely to be.</p> <p><strong>Yellow fever (1795-1803):</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Arch_Street_Ferry.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The wharf in Philadelphia where yellow fever cases were first identified. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>The city's first health department <a href="" target="_blank">was created in 1793</a> to block boats from Philadelphia, which at the time was in the grips of a yellow fever epidemic that <a href="" target="_blank">left 5,000 dead</a>. The tactic didn't work: By 1795 cases began to appear in Manhattan, and by 1798 the disease had reached epidemic proportions there, with <a href="" target="_blank">800 deaths that year</a>. Several thousand more died over the next few years. (The disease causes victims' to vomit black bile and their skin to turn yellowish, and the fatality rate without treatment is <a href="" target="_blank">as high as 50 percent</a>.)&nbsp;This was no small blow for a city that at the time had <a href="" target="_blank">only about 60,000 residents</a>. As is the case today with Ebola in West Africa, misinformation was a big part of the problem: Doctors at the time had only just begun to speculate that the virus was carried by mosquitoes (other theorized sources included unsanitary conditions in slums and rotting coffee). Little effort was made to publicize the epidemic for fear of a mass exodus from the city, <a href="" target="_blank">according to Baruch College</a>. Today yellow fever is extremely rare in the United States&nbsp;but still <a href="" target="_blank">kills 30,000 people every year</a>, 90 percent of whom are in Africa.</p> <p><strong>Cholera (mid-1800s): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="cholera" class="image" src="/files/Cholera_Epidemic_poster_New_York_City.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An 1865 poster from the New York City Sanitary Commission offers advice on how to avoid contracting cholera. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>By the 1830s New York was a booming metropolis of 200,000, with swarms of newcomers arriving daily on boats from Europe. When word of a raging cholera epidemic in Europe reached the city's Board of Health, it instituted quarantines on incoming ships and tried to clean up the filthy streets. But again the board was reluctant to make public announcements, this time to avoid disrupting trade, according to <a href="" target="_blank">city records</a>. One resident claimed the board was "more afraid of merchants than of lying." By June 1832, the disease, which causes severe diarrhea and can kill within hours if untreated, arrived in New York via boats traveling down the Hudson River from Quebec. Within two months, 3,500 people were dead&mdash;mostly poor Irish immigrants and blacks living in the city's slums. Outbreaks occurred again in 1849, with some <a href="" target="_blank">5,000 deaths</a>, and in 1866, with <a href="" target="_blank">1,100 deaths</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Polio (1916): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/polio-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A physical therapist works with two children with polio in 1963. </strong>Charles Farmer/CDC</div> </div> <p>New York City was the epicenter of an outbreak of polio in 1916 that began with a <a href="" target="_blank">handful of cases reported to a clinic in Brooklyn</a>. The disease, which advances from feverlike symptoms to paralysis and sometimes death, ultimately <a href="" target="_blank">spread to 9,000 New Yorkers</a> and caused 2,400 deaths. Across the Northeast, the infection toll climbed to 23,000 by the fall. The disease remained prevalent in the United States until the 1954 introduction of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine. Polio is now extremely rare here. But worldwide, <a href="" target="_blank">it still infects 200,000 people every year, particularly in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan</a>.</p> <p><strong>Influenza (1918): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="influenza" class="image" src="/files/influenza-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>In 1918, soldiers with influenza are treated at an Army hospital in Kansas. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>In August 1918, a Norwegian ship called the <em>Bergensfjord </em><a href="" target="_blank">pulled into New York Harbor</a> carrying 21 people infected with a new and virulent strain of the flu. Over the next several weeks, dozens more arrived, mostly on ships from Europe, and sick passengers were quarantined in a hospital just blocks from the modern-day Bellevue, where Spencer is currently being treated. Those unfortunate sailors were just the first in what would become the deadliest disease outbreak in the city's history to that date. Over 30,000 deaths were recorded <a href="" target="_blank">by November</a>&mdash;the actual number was likely much higher&mdash;including 12,300 during the first week of November alone. One health worker visited a family in lower Manhattan and found an <a href="" target="_blank">infant dead in its crib and all seven other family members severely ill</a>.</p> <p>Other nearby cities fared even worse: The death rate in New York was 4.7 per 1,000 cases, compared to 6.5 in Boston and 7.3 in Philadelphia, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the National Institutes of Health</a>. That may not sound like a lot, given that the Ebola death rate is closer to 50 percent, but because influenza is so easily spread it can infect a much greater number of people. Globally, the 1918 flu killed between 50100 million people, the worst public health crisis in modern times. Today, the flu is still considered the <a href="" target="_blank">greatest infectious disease risk</a> for Americans, killing between 3,000 and 50,000 every year, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>. In other words, it's possible that more people could die from the flu this year in America than have <a href="" target="_blank">died worldwide from Ebola</a> during this outbreak. And yet only 1 in 3 Americans get a flu shot. Get a flu shot, people!</p> <p><strong>HIV/AIDS (1981-present): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AIDS-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An AIDS poster from New York City in the 1980s&nbsp;</strong>US National Library of Medicine</div> </div> <p>The scourge of HIV/AIDS is the most familiar epidemic for modern New Yorkers, <a href="" target="_blank">beginning with the June 1981 discovery </a>of 41 cases of a rare cancer among gay men across the country. Throughout the 1980s, campaigns by the city encouraged New Yorkers to use protection during sex and not to share needles or use intravenous drugs. By 1987, according to city records, $400 million had been spent on AIDS services. But activists for AIDS rights groups like ACT UP accused city officials, led by Mayor Ed Koch, of dragging their feet and ignoring the true scale of the crisis. It took until the mid-'90s for anti-retroviral drugs to become widely available. Today, for people who have access to adequate health care, HIV is often manageable. But to date, <a href="" target="_blank">more than 100,000 New Yorkers</a> have been killed by AIDS-related maladies, according to state health statistics. Despite recent advances in medical treatment, infection rates are still high in New York, disproportionately affecting racial minorities and gay men.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Science Top Stories Ebola Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:18:45 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263166 at Environmentalists Don't Like Europe's New Climate Plan. Can Obama Do Better? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Environmental groups are warning that a new European agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 sets the bar far too low.</p> <p>The pact&mdash;which was reached early Friday in Brussels&mdash;makes the European Union the first major bloc of countries to commit to emissions targets ahead of next year's crucial climate change talks in Paris. At the Paris meeting, world leaders will attempt to hammer out a global agreement that will keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).</p> <p>The <em>Guardian</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that in addition to their commitment to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 percent, European leaders also agreed to increase the portion of the region's energy that comes renewable sources to 27 percent by 2030. That provision is legally binding for the EU as a whole, but not on a national level, potentially opening the door to disagreements about how to get there. The third notable part of the pact is a plan to increase energy efficiency by 27 percent,&nbsp;but that target is&nbsp;not legally binding.</p> <p>Oxfam&mdash;the global development NGO&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">slammed</a> the deal as "insufficient," saying the targets are too low and not enforceable enough.&nbsp;The group's Deputy Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said in a statement: "Today's deal must set the floor not the ceiling of European action, and they must arrive in Paris with a more serious offer." Oxfam called for a much for aggressive policy: 55 percent cuts in emissions.</p> <p>Greenpeace also <a href="" target="_blank">criticized</a> the deal, saying the EU leaders pulled the "handbrake on clean energy."</p> <p>"These targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuel," the group said in a statement.</p> <p>Greenpeace EU managing director Mahi Sideridou added, "The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts."</p> <p>Nevertheless, European leaders hailed the deal as a major breakthrough. "This package is very good news for our fight against climate change," said Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president.</p> <p>Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the pact "will ensure that Europe will be an important player, will be an important party, in future binding commitments of an international climate agreement."</p> <p>World Resources Institute, a leading climate policy research group, <a href="" target="_blank">struck a more conciliatory tone</a> than other environmental groups, while also calling for more aggressive targets. "Despite facing a dismal recession and difficult internal debate, European leaders demonstrated their resolve by staying the course," said the institute's director of climate and energy programs, Jennifer Morgan, in a statement. "At the same time, it is clear that all of the targets could have been&mdash;and should have been&mdash;more ambitious."</p> <p>The deal raises the stakes for other countries to get serious about climate commitments ahead of Paris. According to the <em>Guardian</em>, it contains a clause that would trigger a review of the new targets&mdash;potentially torpedoing today's&nbsp;agreement&mdash;if other countries don't come to the table with comparable proposals next year.</p> <p>It remains unclear precisely what the US government will seek at next year's negotiations. <a href="" target="_blank">Early indications suggest</a> the Obama administration is considering a plan that would require countries to limit emissions according to a specific timetable but wouldn't dictate to individual countries how deep those cuts would be.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Economy Energy Top Stories Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:14:27 +0000 James West 263191 at In Just 15 Years, Wind Could Provide A Fifth Of The World's Electricity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Up to one fifth of the world's electricity supply could come from wind turbines by 2030, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> released this week by Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). That would be an increase of 530 percent compared to the end of last year.</p> <p>The report says the coming global boom in wind power will be driven largely by China's rebounding wind energy market&mdash;and a continued trend of <a href="" target="_blank">high levels of Chinese green energy investment</a>&mdash;as well as by steady growth in the United States and new large-scale projects in Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.</p> <p>The report, called the "Global Wind Energy Outlook," explains how wind energy could provide 2,000 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, which would account for 17 to 19 percent of global electricity. And by 2050, wind's share of the electricity market could reach 30 percent. That's a huge jump from the end of 2013, when wind provided around 3 percent of electricity worldwide.</p> <p>The report is an annually produced industry digest co-authored by the GWEC, which represents 1,500 wind power producers. It examines three "energy scenarios" based on projections used by the International Energy Agency. The "New Policies" scenario attempts to capture the direction and intentions of international climate policy, even if some of these policies have yet to be fully implemented. From there, GWEC has fashioned two other scenarios&mdash;"moderate" and "advanced"&mdash;which reflect two different ways&nbsp;nations might cut carbon and keep their commitments to global climate change policies.&nbsp;In the most ambitious scenario, "advanced," wind could help slash more than 3 billion tons of climate-warning carbon dioxide emissions each year. The following chart has been adapted and simplified from the report:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chart1_5.jpg"></div> <p>In the best case scenario, China leads the way in 2020 and in 2030:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chart2_2_0.jpg"></div> <p>But as the report's authors note, there is still substantial uncertainty in the market. "There is much that we don't know about the future," they write, "and there will no doubt be unforeseen shifts and shocks in the global economy as well as political ups and downs." The more optimistic results contained in the report are dependent on whether the global community is going to respond "proactively to the threat of climate change, or try to do damage control after the fact," the report says.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Infrastructure Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:36:44 +0000 James West 262981 at Drinking a "Medium" Soda Every Day Can Age You As Much As Smoking Does <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Just as soda companies <a href="" target="_blank">plunk down millions</a> of dollars to defeat local soda-tax ballot measures, researchers have found a link between regular soda consumption and premature aging.</p> <p>Published in the peer-reviewed <em>Journal of Public Health</em>, a <a href=";" target="_blank">study</a> of 5,300 adults compared the cells of people who drink soda every day to those of their non-soda-drinking counterparts. In the soda group, the ends of the chromosomes&mdash;known as telomeres&mdash;were shorter, a sign of their cells' diminished ability to regenerate. Our telomeres naturally shorten as we age, but scientists have discovered that a few behaviors&mdash;including smoking&mdash;can shorten them prematurely.</p> <p>And here's the really interesting part: People who drank a 20-ounce soda every day experienced an additional 4.6 years of telomere aging&mdash;the same amount observed in smokers. "The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," lead author Elissa Epel, a professor of psychiatry at University of California-San Francisco, <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> <em>Time</em>.</p> <p>The researchers didn't find the same effect in those who drank diet sodas or 100 percent fruit juice.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:28:31 +0000 Kiera Butler 262881 at Now Congressional Republicans Are Digging Through Scientists' Grant Proposals <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When scientists across the country need money for research projects, one place they often turn is the National Science Foundation. The NSF is <a href="" target="_blank">an independent federal agency</a> with an annual budget of about $7 billion, which it doles out to fund about a quarter of all federally supported science research.</p> <p>Of course, the agency doesn't just give money away to anyone who asks. Proposals have to survive a rigorous review process that includes close scrutiny by a panel of top scientists in the relevant field. Competition is fierce: Of the <a href="" target="_blank">49,000 proposals</a> submitted in 2013, only a fifth were ultimately funded. So as far as most scientists are concerned, an NSF grant is about the highest mark of scientific legitimacy a research project can get.</p> <p>Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) apparently disagrees. Over the last 18 months, Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched an aggressive campaign against what he sees as misguided money management at NSF that fritters funds away on frivolous research. Research on ridiculous things like, you know, climate change.</p> <p>Smith's committee is responsible for setting the NSF's budget. But in the last year, the Congressman has gone to unprecedented lengths to scrutinize the agency's scientific operations. His staffers are sifting through the archives of NSF grant proposal materials, which are normally kept strictly confidential to preserve scientific objectivity. They're looking for projects to highlight as evidence that NSF is wasting money on research that, from their view, aren't in the "national interest."</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">great recent story in <em>Science</em></a> lays out Smith's strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade&hellip;</p> <p>The peculiar exercise is part of a long-running and bitter battle that is pitting Smith and many of his panel's Republican members against [Rep. Eddie Bernice] Johnson [the committee's ranking Democrat] and the panel's Democrats, NSF's leadership, and the academic research community&hellip;</p> <p>Smith, however, argues he is simply taking seriously Congress's oversight responsibility. And he promises to stay the course: "Our efforts will continue until NSF agrees to only award grants that are in the national interest," he wrote in a 2 October e-mail to <em>Science</em>Insider.</p> </blockquote> <p>The tally of projects under scrutiny by Smith's team has now grown to 47 (a listing of them is linked to in the <em>Science</em> story above). On one hand, that's a lot. The confidentiality of the NSF review process is a long-established, sacred scientific practice that protects research from bias and makes sure only the cream rises to the top. So any cracks in that firewall, and certainly any whiff of political interference, are of great concern to the scientific community.</p> <p>On the other hand, the 47 grants represent only a tiny fraction of the NSF's total operation; together, they amount to about $26 million, or 0.37 percent of NSF's budget. Which raises the questions of why Smith would (a) throw himself into an investigation of spending that, all things considered, is barely a drop in the federal bucket and (b) pick these specific projects to focus on. A spokesperson from Smith's committee&mdash;who provided a statement on behalf of Smith's office (the same statement quoted by <em>Science </em>above)&mdash;did not respond to these questions.</p> <p>Many of the studies at issue involve social sciences (a study of caste systems in Ethiopia, for example, and one about rural sanitation in India) that fall outside the core areas of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and biology that Smith, in a <a href="" target="_blank">press release this spring</a>, singled out as "the primary drivers of our economic future."</p> <p>But some of the biggest-ticket items up for public dissection focus on climate change. They include a $3 million grant awarded in 2008 to study how federal agencies can better communicate climate science to the public and a $5.6 million award to a Columbia University team to carry out public education work on the impacts of climate change at the poles. You know, totally frivolous questions that have nothing to do with the "national interest" on things like rising sea levels, <a href="" target="_blank">epic releases of methane</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">US military engagement in the Arctic</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">new areas for offshore oil drilling</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">35,000 stranded walruses</a>. Definitely not stuff you need to worry about, or have our top scientists investigate and explain.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">letters over the past few months</a> between Smith and NSF director France C&oacute;rdova, an astrophysicist and former president of Purdue University, are a great new entry in the annals of <a href="" target="_blank">government scientists explaining Science 101 to Republican Congressmen</a>.</p> <p>"NSF's investment in meritorious research projects enables new and transformative discoveries within and among those fields and disciplines, resulting in the expansion of our scientific knowledge and understanding," she wrote to him on May 19.</p> <p>In other words, basic science shouldn't be judged by how closely it hews to a predetermined, profitable advance. The Large Hadron Collider probably isn't ever going to do much for the US economy, but that doesn't mean it's not in the "national interest" for us to understand the basic physics of the universe. Sometimes, even research on the <a href="" target="_blank">mechanics of corkscrew-shaped duck penises</a> can be a worthy investment of taxpayer dollars.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Science Top Stories Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:22:12 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262801 at Hurricane Gonzalo Is Going to Slam Bermuda Today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The photo above was <a href="" target="_blank">taken yesterday</a> by an astronaut on the International Space Station. It shows Hurricane Gonzalo barreling across the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda.</p> <p>Gonzalo, currently a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in Bermuda this afternoon before veering back out to sea and away from the US East Coast. meteorologists <a href="" target="_blank">are warning</a> that the damage could be severe, with "a large and life-threatening storm surge [that] could exceed 10 feet and cause a major rise in water levels over coastal areas and causeways."</p> <p>Stay safe, Bermudans.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:47:50 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262766 at People Are Trying to Sell Cinnamon Bark as an Ebola Cure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Marion Nestle <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that several supplement manufacturers are selling vitamins that promise to prevent or treat Ebola. The claims caught the attention of the FDA, which has issued <a href="" target="_blank">warning letters</a> to three of the manufacturers: <a href="" target="_blank">Natural Solutions Foundation</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Young Living</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">DoTERRA International LLC</a>. The agency lists specific claims it finds worrisome; for example, on a Young Living consultant's website, "Ebola Virus can not live in the presence of cinnamon bark."</p> <p>Here's a screenshot from Natural Solutions Foundations' website:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-16%20at%2011.50.59%20AM_0.png"></div> <p>An <a href="" target="_blank">article</a> on the Natural Solutions site talks about "the intentional introduction of Ebola into the United States by what will appear to be ISIS terrorists." It continues, "And it will happen soon, since we know from Dr. Rima's research that Ebola can become an airborne disease in temperate climates, such as North America's coming winter." It urges readers to prepare by stocking up on supplements that contain nanoparticles of silver: "The only protection we have against this new level of tyranny is making sure we do not get sick!!! The best way to do that is to make sure that EVERYONE you can reach has Nano Silver and knows how to use it."</p> <p>Another supposed natural Ebola cure making the rounds: Vitamin C. Nestle found this gem on an alternative health information site called <a href="" target="_blank">NaturalHealth365</a>, which claims that a giant dose of vitamin C can cure Ebola (though it doesn't actually sell Vitamin C):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ebola-vitamin.gif"><div class="caption">NaturalHealth365</div> </div> <p>It's not terribly surprising that supplement manufacturers have seized on Ebola. A new Harvard School of Public Health <a href="" target="_blank">poll</a> has found that 38 percent of Americans&nbsp;(up from 25 percent <a href="" target="_blank">a few months ago</a>) "are now concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year." That's quite a market.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:57:45 +0000 Kiera Butler 262701 at Sorry, California. Winter Isn't Going to Fix Your Drought. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>California's crippling drought is not expected to improve over the winter, according to <a href="" target="_blank">new forecast data</a> released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.</p> <p>Nearly 60 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought&mdash;the worst category&mdash;NOAA reported. The map above shows that the northern California coast could see some improvement. But in the Central Valley, a critical source of <a href="" target="_blank">fruits, nuts, and vegetables</a> for the whole country, conditions won't be getting better any time soon. A little rain is expected, NOAA forecaster Mike Halpert said in a statement, but not enough to reverse the trend.</p> <p>"While we're predicting at least a 2 in 3 chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The report adds that El Ni&ntilde;o, which tends to brings wet weather for the West Coast, is expected to be weak this winter and thus won't provide much relief.</p> <p>California's winter is also more than 50 percent likely to be warmer than average:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="temp map" class="image" src="/files/temp-map.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>And in case you're still wondering why you should care about California's drought, try this: The state is the country's number-two pumpkin producer. And with Halloween approaching, <a href="" target="_blank">pumpkin prices have jumped 15 percent</a> because of the drought. Scary!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:32:35 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262676 at Nepal Just Had a Deadly Freak Avalanche. Is Climate Change To Blame? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hikers on one of Nepal's most popular mountaineering routes may have had a deadly face-off with climate change this week, when a freak storm swept in and triggered an avalanche that <a href="" target="_blank">killed at least 27 people</a>.</p> <p>Rescue work is underway for dozens of hikers who are still missing. October is typically a time for clear skies in Nepal, and already some scientists are pointing a finger of blame at global warming for the unseasonable storm. From the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Toronto Star</a>: </em></p> <blockquote> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The current situation in Nepal &mdash; the incessant rain, blizzard and avalanche &mdash; appears to have been triggered by the tail of <a href="">Cyclone Hudhud</a> in neighboring India. The cyclone, reports suggest, was among the strongest storms recorded off the Indian coast.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>&ldquo;Storms in that region are getting stronger,&rdquo; said John Stone, an IPCC lead author and adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. &ldquo;It is not inconsistent with what scientists have been saying.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional agency based in Kathmandu that serves eight countries, said in a May report &mdash; just weeks after the April avalanche on Mt. Everest &mdash; that rising temperatures have shrunk Nepal&rsquo;s glaciers by almost a quarter between 1977 and 2010, with an average of 38 square kilometers vanishing annually.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The report said that besides bringing more intense and frequent floods, avalanches and landslides affecting millions of people living in remote mountain areas, such changes could also hit adventure-seeking mountaineers.</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>As if summitting a giant Himalayan peak wasn't scary enough already.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk International Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:32:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262666 at Survey: Four Out of Five Nurses Have Gotten No Ebola Training At All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update, October 15, 1:50 p.m. EDT</strong>: A <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=span-ab-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">second hospital worker </a>who treated the Dallas Ebola patient has tested positive for the disease. Health officials <a href="" target="_blank">have confirmed </a>that prior to her diagnosis she boarded a flight from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Frontier Airlines. The CDC is monitoring potential risk of exposure to 132 passengers aboard.</em></p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/ebola-mini.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the Ebola crisis. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-262966"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/ebola-nurses-osha-federal-rules"> These Rules Can Protect Doctors and Nurses From Ebola&acirc;&#128;&#148;If They're Followed</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262976"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/10/watch-how-ebola-took-over-liberia"> This GIF Shows Just How Quickly Ebola Spread Across Liberia</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262361"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/nurses-union-training-ebola-hospitals"> Survey: Four Out of Five Nurses Have Gotten No Ebola Training At All</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262416"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/10/liberia-ebola-going-need-lot-more-bodybags"> Liberia Says It's Going to Need a Lot More Body Bags</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-261801"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/how-long-ebola-sperm"> How Long Does the Ebola Virus Survive in Semen?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-260876"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/ebola-crisis-liberia-way-worse-you-think"> Liberians Explain Why the Ebola Crisis Is Way Worse Than You Think</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>A new survey conducted by the National Nurses Union shows US hospitals may&nbsp;not be adequately prepared to handle Ebola patients, should the virus continue to spread.&nbsp;Out of the 2,200 nurses who responded to <span>the union's questionnaire</span>, 85 percent reported that their hospitals had not provided education on Ebola. 76 percent said their institution had no policy for how to admit and handle patients potentially infected with the virus. More than a third claimed their hospitals didn't have enough safety supplies, including eye protection and fluid resistant gowns.</p> <p>The survey results were announced on Sunday, just after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <a href="">confirmed</a> that a health worker in Texas had tested positive for the virus. The CDC's director, Thomas <span>Frieden</span> cited a "breach of protocol" as the likely reason.</p> <p>Now&mdash;as agency officials scramble to figure out just what that breach was&mdash;nurses are pushing back. On Monday, NNU nurses in red shirts rallied in Oakland, Calif. with signs reading, "Stop Blaming Nurses. Stop Ebola."</p> <p>"We have been surveying nurses for almost two months about Ebola preparedness," Charles <span>Idelson</span>, an NNU spokesman<span>,</span> said Monday. "What these survey results clearly indicate is that hospitals are still not doing enough to be properly prepared to respond."</p> <p>The CDC has <a href="" target="_blank">announced plans</a> to deploy an Ebola response team "within hours" at any hospital where an Ebola patient is admitted. At a press conference, Frieden said the agency is responding to calls from hospitals that are underprepared to handle the crisis.</p> <p><a href="">On Monday, </a><span>Frieden</span><span style="font-family:Verdana"> said the the CDC is also working with hospitals to better train health workers on Ebola precautions."We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control," he said</span>. For example, he said, in some cases health workers may actually be wearing too much protective gear, making it harder to remove and dispose of the material.</p> <p>The <span>NNU</span> survey showed that, even as the CDC called for more hands-on training, especially on how to properly put on and remove safety equipment, few hospitals have provided it for their employees. <span>Ideslson</span> says most are simply pointing nurses to information on their websites, or linking to CDC information. Staffing is another concern, with 63 percent of nurses reporting that hospital facilities won't adjust the number of assigned patients per nurse to reflect the additional time required to care for infectious patients.</p> <p>"We are going to continue to protest the failure of so many of these hospitals to put adequate safety measures in place," <span>Idelson</span> said; he wouldn't rule out the potential for healthcare workers to walk out on strike, much as <a href="">Liberian health care workers have</a>.</p> <p>The American Hospital Association, an organization that represents nearly 5,000 hospitals nationwide, is now calling on hospitals to bolster their training regimens, turned down my request for an interview, but sent a statement saying, "We strongly encourage all hospitals to conduct employee retraining on how to use personal protective equipment to protect themselves from Ebola and other potentially deadly communicable diseases."</p> <p>Even if hospitals are prepared, however, it can be difficult to comply with both patient needs and the social <span>blowback</span> that comes with an Ebola diagnosis. <em>The New York Times </em><a href="">reported </a>yesterday that&nbsp; Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, a center that had prepared for an outbreak long before the current crisis began, struggled with the county threatening to stop sewer service, couriers refusing to transport blood samples, and pizza delivery services refusing to come to any part of the hospital. And as my colleague Tim Murphy has <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a>, Louisiana's attorney general has said the state, which processes a wide variety of hazardous wastes from around the nation, may take legal action to stop the incinerated belongings of deceased Ebola patient Eric Duncan from coming to one of its landfills.</p> <p>In his press conference, Frieden warned that such fears are unfounded and counterproductive. "The enemy here is a virus. It's not a person, it's not a country, it's not a place, it's not a hospital&mdash;it's a virus. It's a virus that's tough to fight, but together I'm confident that we will stop it."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Ebola Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:42:35 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 262361 at A Place With the Population of West Virginia Just Powered A Work Day Entirely on Clean Energy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's one for the naysayers who insist renewable energy can't keep the lights on and power our cities. An entire state in Australia with a population of &nbsp;around 1.7 million people just used&nbsp;renewable energy to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs throughout an entire working day. According to industry news site <a href="" target="_blank">Energy Business News</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Between 9.30 and 6pm on Tuesday, September 30, a day not unlike most Tuesdays, with business and homes using electricity as usual, the state received the favourable weather conditions allowing solar and wind infrastructure to work side by side to achieve the impressive achievement.</p> </blockquote> <p>The analysis comes from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Pitt &amp; Sherry</a>, an Australian energy consultancy. As the wind picked up, all but two of the state's coal-fired&nbsp;power generators, and one gas-powered unit, were shut down;<strong> </strong>the excess&nbsp;power was exported to other regions, according to the report.&nbsp;There were a few moments during the previous days&mdash;on September 27 and 28&mdash;when the state actually produced more wind power than the state's total energy&nbsp;demand. Normally, <a href="" target="_blank">nearly a third</a> of the state's energy comes from renewable sources, according to figures from 2012 to 2013.</p> <p>South Australia, home to the city of Adelaide, has almost half of the country's wind capacity; 25 percent of its households have rooftop solar installations, according to the report. The state is aggressively pursuing green energy goals, <a href="" target="_blank">upping its 2025 renewable energy commitment from 33 percent to 50 percent</a>, having met its <a href="" target="_blank">previous goal six years ahead of schedule</a>.</p> <p>This is despite the conservative federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott <a href="" target="_blank">threatening to gut</a> a national renewable energy target, having already defunded several government agencies responsible for the country's climate change policies. In July, Australia became the world's first developed nation to repeal a carbon tax.</p> <p>All of that policy uncertainty is having an impact on the renewable energy sector in Australia. Investment has virtually frozen in a land famous for being bathed in sun. Recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance <a href="" target="_blank">shows</a> Australia is on track to record its lowest level of financing for big renewable projects since 2002, dropping the country from the 11th largest investor to 31st in Bloomberg's rankings. In the third quarter of this year, <a href="" target="_blank">investment was down</a> 78 percent from the same time last year.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:39:36 +0000 James West 262306 at Pentagon: We Could Soon Be Fighting Climate Wars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In one of its strongest statements yet on the need to prepare for climate change, the Defense Department today released a report that says global warming "poses immediate risks to US national security" and will exacerbate national security-related threats ranging "from infectious disease to terrorism."</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/green_tech.jpeg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-214871"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/navy-climate-change-great-green-fleet"> The US Military's Next Big Battle? Clean Energy.</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214906"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/03/green-projects-us-military"> 14 Weird Ways the US Military Is Becoming a Clean, Green Fighting Machine</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214911"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/biofuels-military-great-green-fleet"> How the Military Repelled the GOP's Biofuel Attack</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217066"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2013/02/watch-whats-it-land-aircraft-carrier"> WATCH: What's It Like to Land on an Aircraft Carrier?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217366"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/us-navy-spends-4-billion-fuel-every-year"> The US Navy Spends $4 Billion on Fuel Every Year</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>The report, embedded below, builds on <a href="" target="_blank">climate readiness planning at the Pentagon</a> that stretches back to the George W. Bush administration. But today's report is the first to frame climate change as a serious near-term challenge for strategic military operations; previous reports have tended to focus on long-term threats to bases and other infrastructure.</p> <p>The report "is quite an evolution of the DoD's thinking on understanding and addressing climate threats," said Francesco Femia, co-director of the Center for Climate and Security. "The Department is not looking out into the future, it's looking at what's happening now."</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1312288-dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 700, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1312288-dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october" }); </script><noscript> <a href="">DoD Report on Climate Change Readiness--October 2014 (PDF)</a> <br><a href="">DoD Report on Climate Change Readiness--October 2014 (Text)</a> </noscript></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/pentagon-climate-change-shift-wars"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Military Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:45:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262266 at Photos: This Year's Strongest Typhoon Pounds Japan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Typhoon Vongfong&mdash;the word means "wasp" in Cantonese&mdash;brought torrential rain and damaging winds to Japan overnight, as it continued its northward trajectory across the Japanese islands. The powerful storm arrived just a week after Japan was hit by another typhoon, Phanfone, which <a href="" target="_blank">took the lives of three US airman off Okinawa</a>, a southern Japanese island where the US maintains a large military base. Last week, Vongfong became the <a href="" target="_blank">strongest cyclone system observed all year</a>, anywhere in the world&mdash;equivalent to a category 5 hurricane.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>It was&nbsp;downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the Japanese island of Kyushu. The <em>Japan Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">is reporting</a> that the storm has left at least 61 people injured and one missing, with hundreds of thousands advised to evacuate. Authorities <a href="" target="_blank">took steps to protect</a> the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the site of the 2011 meltdown.</p> <p>Here are some photos of the storm as it moved through northeast Asia:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The storm created powerful waves in Wenling, in the coastal Chinese province of Zhejiang, on Sunday, drawing thrill-seeking crowds</strong>&nbsp;Whitehotpix/ZUMA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon2.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Not exactly the safest place to attempt a selfie.</strong> Whitehotpix/ZUMA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon3.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The view of the storm <a href="" target="_blank">from the International Space Station</a> last Thursday reveals its enormity. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made land fall in Japan. </strong>Alexander Gerst/NASA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon4.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A huge tree upended by Vongfong's force on the coast of Setouchi, Kagoshima, on Sunday October 12. While the storm has been downgraded, it has increased in size, and still contains a huge amount of moisture.</strong> The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon5.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Waves pound the coast in the city of Kochi on the Japanese island of Shikoku on Monday October 13, 2014. The storm <a href="" target="_blank">grounded 300 flights</a>.</strong> Kyodo/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon6_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>This photo of the super typhoon last week showed the eye of the storm was approximately 50 miles wide. </strong>NOAA/NASA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon7.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Streets were (almost) empty and shops shuttered in Toyko as Vongfong approached last night. The storm is expected to pass over the capital on Tuesday.</strong> kodomut/Flickr</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Photo Essays Climate Desk Top Stories Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:04:46 +0000 James West 262286 at