Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en How a 20-Minute Conversation Can Convince People With Anti-Gay Views to Change Their Mind <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A recent study suggests that a single conversation between a gay person and a same-sex marriage opponent may have the power to change the&nbsp;person's mind on the issue.&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published last week in the journal <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a>, analyzed data collected by the <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles LGBT Center</a> after it sent pro-gay marriage canvassers to areas of southern California that had voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008 until the Supreme Court overturned it in 2013. Starting in 2009, canvassers&mdash;both gay and straight&mdash;engaged in over 12,000 brief one-on-one conversations with those precincts' registered voters about either gay marriage or, with a placebo group, recycling. The survey found that respondents who had discussed gay marriage showed less prejudice towards gay people following their chat with the canvasser than those who had discussed recycling.</p> <p>But these conversations weren't equally effective across the board: At a certain point in the initial conversation, the gay canvassers had been instructed to reveal that they were gay and hoping to get married, but that the law prohibited it, whereas the straight canvassers spoke of a "friend" or "relative."</p> <p>Only the gay canvassers' effectiveness proved enduring.</p> <p>"Those who discussed same-sex marriage with straight canvassers," write the study's authors, Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green, "quickly reverted to their pretreatment baseline opinions, and 90% of the initial treatment effect dissipated a month after the conversation with canvassers."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the respondents who spoke to gay canvassers remained just as enlightened nine months later.</p> <p>"The data show that in 20 minutes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center&rsquo;s volunteer canvassers accomplished what would have otherwise taken five years at the current rate of social change," the center's David Fleischer said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement.</a>&nbsp;"How did we do it? Our team had heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations on the doorsteps of those who opposed marriage for same-sex couples, and volunteers who were LGBT came out during their conversations."</p> <p>Researchers are hopeful their persuasion methods can produce similar results in&nbsp;reducing&nbsp;prejudices on other social issues as well.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Gay Rights Science Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Inae Oh 266631 at New York State Just Banned Fracking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After years of wrangling between environmentalists, lawmakers, and fossil fuel companies, New York's top public health administrator said he would ban fracking in the state, citing health risks.</p> <p>From <a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">the </a><em><a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state&rsquo;s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.</p> <p>"I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York," said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.</p> <p>That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany&hellip;The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo's first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall in many places around the country, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.</p> </blockquote> <p>New York is the second state to ban fracking, after <a href="" target="_blank">Vermont did so in 2012</a>. That move was largely symbolic, since Vermont has no natural gas to speak of. New York, by contrast, would have been a prize for the fracking industry, thanks to its massive share of the <a href="" target="_blank">Marcellus shale formation</a>.</p> <p>"This is the first state ban with real significance," said Kate Sinding, a senior attorney in New York for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "My head is still spinning, because this is beyond anything we expected."</p> <p>The fracking battle in New York isn't quite over yet, Sinding said. Now the attention of activists will turn toward proposed infrastructure projects in the state&mdash;like a <a href="" target="_blank">gas storage facility</a> by Lake Seneca and an <a href="" target="_blank">export facility on Long Island</a>&mdash;that would handle natural gas from fracking projects in neighboring states like Pennsylvania.</p> <p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Infrastructure Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:01:03 +0000 Tim McDonnell 266836 at These Are the Cutest Animal Videos of 2014, According to the World's Leading Science Journal <!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>Nature</em> is one of the world's flagship peer-reviewed scientific journals, a venue for some of our best new ideas about the world. Sometimes, those ideas are about animals that also happen to be outrageously, unconscionably cute. I'm talking baby-penguins-and-pomeranians-and-monkeys-cute. This morning the ingenious folks in <em>Nature</em>'s video department rounded them all up into <a href=";" target="_blank">one face-melting video</a>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Here's how to put a YouTube video on endless loop</a>. You're welcome.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Film and TV Science Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:08:30 +0000 Tim McDonnell 266696 at Here's How Much the Storm Is Helping California's Epic Drought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the midst of the most intense <a href="" target="_blank">drought</a> in hundreds of years, Northern California is being bombarded with rain (<a href="" target="_blank">here</a> are some crazy photos). In a state that produces roughly <a href="" target="_blank">half of the country's</a> fruits and veggies, the water is more than welcome. The storm is expected to dump 2-8 inches of water in the Bay Area, and 2-5 inches in Southern California. But California would need 18-21 more inches of rain over the next six months in order to make up for the drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The state usually gets about 23 inches of rain per year.</p> <p>Check out the similarity between a drought intensity chart from two weeks ago, when California was still pretty dry, and two days ago, after several days of rain.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src=""></div> <p>Compared with the levels two weeks ago, there's been a small but noticeable increase in the state's reservoir water; California's two largest reservoirs,&nbsp;Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, have both seen a three percent rise. The image below, updated on December 10th, compares how much California's reservoirs can hold (in yellow) with how much they're currently holding (in blue).</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/reservoir.gif"><div class="caption">California Department of Water Resources</div> </div> <p>Some experts are worried that the rain will make people forget about the fact that California's still in a drought. "Thursday it'll rain, and people will say, 'Oh, I'm very excited,' and Saturday it'll rain, and 'Oh, drought&rsquo;s over.' Not even close," Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow with Public Policy Institute of California focused on water, <a href="" target="_blank">told KQED</a>. "This has been three consecutive years of extreme dryness, and that extreme dryness translates to much lower groundwater levels, and very dry soils. It&rsquo;s going to take a lot of rain to break this drought."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Econundrums Thu, 11 Dec 2014 23:21:02 +0000 Julia Lurie 266461 at There's a Big Coal Giveaway in the Cromnibus Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href=";ir=Green" target="_blank">story</a> originally was originally published by </em><a href="" target="_blank">The Huffington Post</a><em> and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>The 1,000-page omnibus spending package released Tuesday night is reigniting a fight over rules for U.S. financing of coal plants abroad.</p> <p>In October 2013, the <a href="" target="_hplink">Treasury Department announced</a> that it would stop providing funding for conventional coal plants abroad, except in "very rare" cases. And in December 2013, the Export-Import Bank <a href="" target="_hplink">announced a new policy</a> that would restrict financing for most new coal-fired power plants abroad. The bank, often called Ex-Im, exists to provide financial support to projects that spur the export of U.S. products and services. The change in coal policy aligned with President Barack Obama's <a href="" target="_hplink">June 2013 call</a> to end US funding of fossil fuel energy projects abroad unless the products include carbon capture technology.</p> <p>But the language in the omnibus blocks both Ex-Im and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US's development finance institution, from using any funds in the bill to enforce these new restrictions on coal projects.</p> <p>Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, touted this prohibition in his statement on the spending package. He said the measure would help "to increase exports of US goods and services." Rogers <a href="">told The Hill that coal exports</a> "are just about the only bright light in the coal business these days."</p> <p>Environmental groups have <a href="" target="_hplink">fought for years</a> to get the government's financial institutions to stop funding <a href="">fossil fuel projects abroad</a>, including a number of coal-fired power plants, mines, pipelines and natural gas export terminals. Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said in a statement that including this rider in the omnibus "undercuts one of the most important contributions President Obama has made to climate policy internationally."</p> <p>"This continued desperate attempt by Republicans to prop up the moribund coal industry is a fools errand," Justin Guay, associate director of the international climate program at the Sierra Club, told The Huffington Post. "The coal industry is a dead man walking; it's time to align our economy with an industry that actually has a future."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Infrastructure Thu, 11 Dec 2014 19:17:51 +0000 Kate Sheppard 266426 at These Photos of Flooding in San Francisco Are Insane <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A huge rain storm is battering Northern California right now. The photos are bonkers.</p> <p><em>(Disclaimer: These are all from social media so maybe some are fake because some people get off making fake weather photos whenever these things happen, but they all look pretty legit to me.)</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>we should all be more like that guy RT <a href="">@SFGate</a>: A Safeway parking lot in Healdsburg has turned into a pool. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Sam Brodey (@sambrodey) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Canoeing to Safeway in Healdsburg this morning! Downtown Square is underwater <a href="">#KTVU</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; taramoriarty (@taramoriarty1) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>PHOTO: flooding on Hwy 1 at the Manor Drive overpass in <a href="">#Pacifica</a>. More <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> updates <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KQED (@KQED) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Here's the parking lot of a Safeway in Sonoma County. <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Power outages tracked by .<a href="">@PGE4Me</a> &gt; <a href=""></a> Treat intersection outage as 4way stop <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Red Cross Bay Area (@RedCrossBayArea) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Car stuck in flooding on I-280 South San Francisco. Major flooding in the area. <a href="">#StormWatch</a> <a href="">#KTVU</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Jacob Jimenez (@OneTakeJake2) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>South San Francisco <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Los Medanos News (@LMC_Experience) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>280 is a river right now! <a href="">@KTVU</a> <a href="">@NWSBayArea</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Josh Overton (@JoshTheGreat009) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Cars maneuvering water-logged streets in Oakland this morning. <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> (Photo by <a href="">@michaelmacor</a>) <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; SFGate (@SFGate) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Flooding in Rohnert Park on Redwood, this is the worst we have seen so far this morning.<a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> <a href="">#whereyoulive</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; stefan s (@kgocameraman) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>High surf rolls into the pier at Pacifica overnight. <a href=""></a> <a href="">#BayAreaStorm</a> <a href="">#hellastorm</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KQED News (@KQEDnews) <a href="">December 11, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Blue Marble Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:02:00 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 266401 at Video: It Takes Only 60 Seconds to Refute Every Obnoxious Climate Denier You Know <!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>If only all complicated science was accompanied by a kindly but sober British accent, and a jazzy beat. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society have teamed up to produce this beautiful animation about the basics of climate science&mdash;from the greenhouse effect, to the role of human burning of fossil fuels, and the impacts on sea level rise, temperatures and the arctic. It's well worth your 60 seconds.</p> <p>For more reading, the two groups have co-authored an excellent (and colorful) <a href="" target="_blank">climate change primer</a> that lays out the answers to 20 common questions&mdash;great to have up your sleeve for that awkward Christmas lunch with your climate-denying cousin. And there's also a <a href="" target="_blank">more lengthy report</a>&mdash;still highly readable&mdash;to get you deeper into the nitty gritty of of the science.</p> <p><em>H/t: <a href="" target="_blank">The Telegraph</a>.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:16:22 +0000 James West 266391 at This Is Seriously One Of the Most Incredible Weather Videos I Have Ever Seen <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in </em><a href="" target="_blank">Slate</a><em> and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>A couple of months ago I posted an amazing time-lapse video called <a href="" target="_blank">Stormscapes</a>, showing storms and mesocylcones, created by photographer Nicolaus Wegner. It's really worth watching; seeing those swirling, dark clouds forming vortices over the Midwest is terrifying and mesmerizing.</p> <p>Wegner contacted me recently; after a year of storm chasing he put together another video, <a href="" target="_blank">Stormscapes2,</a> and it's way, <em>way</em> better than the first one. In fact, I'd say it's seriously one of the most incredible weather videos I have ever seen.</p> <p>Make this hi-def, full screen, and crank the volume up, because holy yikes.</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe frameborder="0" height="332" src="//" width="590"></iframe></p> <p><em>Wow.</em></p> <p>From the opening sequence to the last frame, that's magnificent. I was also really impressed by how Wegner let the music inspire the editing, and it really adds to the look and feel of the video.</p> <p>The creepy oncoming storm sets the mood immediately, but then the double rainbow and crepuscular rays (shadows of clouds leaving long, dark shadows in the sky) converging on the horizon provide a brief interlude. <em>Very</em> brief.</p> <p>Mesocyclones! Lightning! Exploding cumulonimbus clouds! Devil's Tower! And then, at the end, one of my favorite kinds of clouds: bulbs of mammatus clouds hanging down. Those are really peculiar, and <a href="" target="_blank">it's not at all clear why they form</a>. Their shape gives rise to their name, because they look like mammary glands. Seriously.</p> <p>I've seen mammatus clouds just once, and it was unearthly. They're harbingers of severe weather, and Wegner mentioned he got that sequence the day <a href="" target="_blank">a series of tornadoes hit the town of Wessington Springs, South Dakota</a>. The town was devastated, but due to the work of the National Weather Service, <em>not a single person was killed</em>. They predicted the conditions were ripe for tornadoes, issued a warning, and people were able to get to safety in time.</p> <p>That's amazing, but that's science. We've learned so much about the weather that we can predict with pretty good accuracy where and when tornadoes can form, and get people to safety.</p> <p>As I watch Stormscapes2, I'm in awe of the beauty of weather, but I'm also uplifted. We understand a lot of these phenomena very well, and the things we don't understand, we learn. And when we learn, we make things better. We save people's lives.</p> <p>Science saves lives. That's a pretty good thing to learn, too.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:12:04 +0000 Phil Plait 266351 at Watch NASA Launch Its Next-Gen Spacecraft Friday Morning <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update:</strong> NASA had to <a href="" target="_blank">postpone the launch</a>, which was originally scheduled for Thursday morning, because of a problem with a valve. The next opportunity to test Orion will come early Friday morning.</em> <em>This post has been updated to reflect the change. </em></p> <p>It's been 42 years since a human last traveled outside of low-earth orbit, the barely-out-of-the-atmosphere band of space that communications satellites and the International Space Station call home. But Friday morning, NASA will take a step closer towards once again sending humans to the Moon&mdash;and perhaps beyond. At 7:04 am, the agency will launch the first unmanned test run of its Orion spacecraft, sending it up from Cape Canaveral for a two-orbit spin around the planet&mdash;a trip that, if all goes well, will last for 4.5 hours before Orion lands in the Pacific Ocean. You can watch the launch <a href="">live here</a> or, at the appointed hour, in the video below:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="386" scrolling="no" src=";wmode=direct" style="border: 0px none transparent;" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>No one will be aboard Orion for the test flight. But the spacecraft, which&nbsp;is designed to be used for future manned missions to asteroids and eventually the Moon and Mars, is the first NASA capsule since the Apollo program that's designed to send humans beyond low-earth orbit. It is slated to travel 3,600 miles above the planet's surface this week&mdash;about 16 times farther out than the International Space Station.</p> <p>But it'll be a long time before NASA begins sending humans back out towards the stars. That's due, in part, to the state of rocket science. NASA is using a Delta IV rocket to launch Orion into the sky. But the Delta IV is an older technology that is supposed to be a placeholder until NASA finishes work on the Space Launch System, a larger rocket that will blast the Orion capsule off on long-distance missions. That new system <a href="">won't be ready</a> until at least 2018, which means a manned mission isn't likely until the 2020s, with a Mars mission not on the docket until the 2030s. (And given the recent frequent delays in long term NASA missions, these dates could easily get pushed back more).</p> <p>The Orion was originally designed for President George W. Bush's Constellation program, which aimed to return Americans to the moon by 2020 at the latest&mdash;a step towards a mission to Mars shortly thereafter. President Obama <a href="">scrapped</a> the Constellation program, which had been underfunded and nowhere near meeting its deadlines, shortly after taking office&mdash;sparing only the Orion capsule. Space policy has been a low priority for the&nbsp; administration ever since. Obama has left designing a replacement for the Space Shuttle's low-earth-orbit work to the private sector, and hasn't put up much of a fight against <a href="" target="_blank">objections</a> from congressional Republicans that his plan to send humans to visit an asteroid is expensive and unnecessary.</p> <p>Orion's launch could be the first step toward a bold new space program&mdash;or a flashy whimper of a doomed vision. But either way, big rocket launches are always exciting to watch, so <a href="">tune in here</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Top Stories Thu, 04 Dec 2014 08:57:47 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 265921 at The Fracking Boom Could End Way Sooner Than Obama Thinks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Obama is fond of touting America's vast trove of natural gas&mdash;and the energy (read: economic growth) it can provide&mdash;as a reason to support fracking. "Our 100-year supply of natural gas is a big factor in drawing jobs back to our shores," he <a href="" target="_blank">told a gathering</a> at Northwestern University in October.</p> <p>You can hear that same optimism about US natural gas production from <a href="" target="_blank">Democrats</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Republicans</a>, and of course, <a href="" target="_blank">the industry itself</a>. The conviction that America can fuel its economy by churning out massive amounts of natural gas for decades has become a core assumption of national energy policy. But what if it's wrong?</p> <p>Those rosy predictions are based on official forecasts produced by the Energy Information Administration, an independent federal agency that compiles data on America's energy supply and demand. This spring, EIA chief Adam Sieminski <a href="" target="_blank">told a Senate hearing</a> that he was confident natural gas production would grow 56 percent between 2012 and 2040. But the results of a series of studies at the University of Texas, <a href="" target="_blank">reported today in an article in the journal <em>Nature</em></a>, cast serious doubt about the accuracy of EIA's forecasts.</p> <p>The UT team conducted its own analysis of natural gas production at all four of the US's major shale gas formations (the Marcellus, Haynesville, Fayetteville, and Barnett), which together account for two-thirds of America's natural gas output. Then, they extrapolated production into the future based on predicted market forces (the future price of gas relative to other fuels) and known geology. Their analysis suggests that gas production will peak in 2020, 20 years earlier than the EIA predicts. What's more, the UT researchers project that by 2030, gas production levels will be only half of EIA's prediction.</p> <p>The difference in opinion stems from a difference in the scale of the analyses. The UT team's grid for each shale play studied was at least 20 times finer than EIA's, according to <em>Nature</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Resolution matters because each play has sweet spots that yield a lot of gas, and large areas where wells are less productive. Companies try to target the sweet spots first, so wells drilled in the future may be less productive than current ones. The EIA's model so far has assumed that future wells will be at least as productive as past wells in the same county. But this approach, [UT-Austin petroleum engineer Ted] Patzek argues, "leads to results that are way too optimistic".</p> </blockquote> <p>Why do these numbers matter? The federal government, states, and the private sector all base their energy investments&mdash;research and development, infrastructure construction, etc.&mdash;on forecasts of where our energy will come from in the future. If natural gas really is super-abundant, there may be less urgency to invest in renewables like solar and wind to replace coal plants as they age or are regulated out of existence. But if there's less recoverable natural gas than we think, we'll need to change our strategy to avoid coming up short on power 20 years down the line. At the same time, there are international repercussions: Many countries are <a href="" target="_blank">taking cues from the United States</a> on how to develop their own natural gas resources, so what happens here will shape those plans as well. And a series of massive natural gas export facilities are <a href="" target="_blank">already being proposed</a> across the US to ship our gas overseas; what will happen to global markets if those run dry prematurely?</p> <p>Because they rely on informed guesses about future market conditions, these forecasts can never be bulletproof, and the UT study doesn't close the book on how much natural gas the US really has in store. But it's an important reminder that we should treat politicians' promises about fossil fuel wealth with skepticism.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Science Top Stories Infrastructure Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:00:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265861 at 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