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Canada poised to kill Kyoto

Donald Gutstein,
Allies against Kyoto Accord
Harper’s aim given scant scrutiny by media giants.
Canadians are poised to axe the Kyoto Accord, but seem unaware that’s what they will be doing when they elect a Stephen Harper government today.

Less than two weeks before voting day, with a majority government in sight, Harper said he would abandon the CO2 emission limits of Kyoto.

It was good news for the fossil-fuel industry, but bad news for Canadians, most of whom steadfastly favour the accord.

The story should have received major media attention, but didn’t. By the following day, it was dead. Inside the Harper war room, fossil-fuel industry lobbyists were high-fiving each other. If Harper had announced a pull-out from Kyoto in Calgary in December, the media might have played the story very differently and Harper might not be heading for a majority government.
(22 January 2006)

Interview with RealClimate scientists

Dark Syde, Daily Kos
I had the opportunity to virtually chat with three leading climate scientists about the future of global weather and the impact of human activity. Join me below as DR Gavin Schmidt, DR Michael Mann, and DR Stefan Rahmstorf discuss that disturbing reality free of political spin. This is real data, these are real researchers: This is REALCLIMATE.
(20 January 2006)
Recommended by David Roberts of Gristmill.

Cutting greenhouse gases beneficial for California’s economy
(“Studies Support Emissions Plans”)

Usha Lee McFarling, LA Times
The state’s ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions could create tens of thousands of new jobs and dramatically boost the economy in coming years, according to two new independent analyses.

The reports, one led by economists at UC Berkeley, the other by a Washington think tank that emphasizes market solutions to environmental problems, agree with a draft version of a state plan released earlier this month and reject concerns that curbing the gases that contribute to global warming would hurt the economy.

“It’s basically a very good news story,” said Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy, an environmental think tank based in Washington, D.C. “We found you could do this very cheaply.”

The Berkeley report found that the cost savings on fuel and gas generated by curbing greenhouse gases would translate into more money for consumers and more jobs. In addition, they predicted that investment in technology to reduce greenhouse gases could pay off for the state in the way that investment in computer technology has paid off for Silicon Valley.
(23 January 2006)
Workshops to map cutting emissions (Contra Costa Times)

U.S. ranks 28th on environment, a new study says

Felicity Barringer, NY Times
A pilot nation-by-nation study of environmental performance shows that just six nations – led by New Zealand, followed by five from Northern Europe – have achieved 85 percent or better success in meeting a set of critical environmental goals ranging from clean drinking water and low ozone levels to sustainable fisheries and low greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, jointly produced by Yale and Columbia Universities, ranked the United States 28th over all, behind most of Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Chile, but ahead of Russia and South Korea.

The bottom half of the rankings is largely filled with the countries of Africa and Central and South Asia. Pakistan and India both rank among the 20 lowest-scoring countries, with overall success rates of 41.1 percent and 47.7 percent, respectively.
(23 January 2006)
Also posted at Common Dreams.

Warmer seas may wipe out plankton, source of ocean life

Steve Connor, UK Independent
The microscopic plants that underpin all life in the oceans are likely to be destroyed by global warming, a study has found.

Scientists have discovered a way that the vital plankton of the oceans can be starved of nutrients as a result of the seas getting warmer. They believe the findings have catastrophic implications for the entire marine habitat, which ultimately relies on plankton at the base of the food chain.

The study is also potentially devastating because it has thrown up a new “positive feedback” mechanism that could result in more carbon dioxide ending up in the atmosphere to cause a runaway greenhouse effect.

Scientists led by Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam have calculated that global warming, which is causing the temperature of the sea surface to rise, will also interfere with the vital upward movement of nutrients from the deep sea.

These nutrients, containing nitrogen, phosphorus and iron, are vital food for phytoplankton. If the supply is interrupted the plants die off, which prevents them from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“Global warming of the surface layers of the oceans reduces the upward transport of nutrients into the surface layers. This generates chaos among the plankton,” the professor said.
(19 January 2006)
Also posted at Common Dreams.

Do trees share blame for global warming?

Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor

Cows burp it, pipelines and landfills leak it, and vast amounts lie frozen beneath the ocean floor. Methane is ubiquitous – as fuel for heating and cooking and as a source of concern for atmospheric scientists. Molecule for molecule, methane packs thousands of times more punch as a “greenhouse gas” than carbon dioxide does.

Until now, scientists tracking debits and credits in the globe’s methane “budget” figured they had a pretty good handle on where the gas comes from – mostly from microbes breaking down organic material in places where oxygen is relatively scarce.

Enter Frank Keppler. Working with colleagues from Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, Dr. Keppler has discovered that plants may give off significant amounts of methane just by growing. And the amount they give off appears to rise with temperature. The results have stunned many researchers because no one expected methane to form biologically out in the open air, where oxygen abounds.

It’s not that there’s more methane in the atmosphere, but that some of it is coming from a wholly unexpected source.
(19 January 2006)