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Environment - Feb 17


Energy execs talk climate change policy
(video)
E&ETV
Last week, energy industry executives joined the Pew Center on Global Climate Change for the introduction of the group's recommendations on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. During today's E&ETV Event Coverage, panelists from Cinergy Corp., PG&E Corp., BP, Shell International Ltd. and other companies discuss the Pew Center's proposal. The industry representatives also detail the actions they are taking to limit their carbon dioxide emissions.
(14 February 2006)


Profile: NASA climatologist James E. Hansen

Bryan Farrell, The Nation
When NASA's top climatologist, James E. Hansen, was silenced because his research on global warming was at odds with Bush Administration policies, he became a cause célèbre for browbeaten scientists fed up with the government stranglehold on their research.

...Hansen acknowledged that the topic is quite complex and still being explored by the scientific community, but he added that it seems "the public, by fiat, received biased information." Hansen asserted that NOAA scientists "were told not to dispute the hurricane conclusion in public" and that many of his colleagues at NOAA have told him their conditions are, in general, much worse.

"A NOAA scientist cannot speak with a reporter unless there is a 'listener' on the line with him or her," Hansen said, adding, "it seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States. The claim is that the 'listener' is there to protect the NOAA scientist. If you buy that one, please see me at the break; there is a bridge down the street that I would like to sell to you."

Hansen remains optimistic about his own freedom at NASA, saying the agency has assured him it is committed to fixing the problem and that he hopes NASA becomes the model for other agencies to follow. Political interference, he noted, has always been an issue for scientists, regardless of what party is in power.

Hansen's sense of responsibility for his research stems largely from the first line of NASA's mission statement: "To understand and protect our home planet."

"The point I made to my boss and his boss is, We're not doing our job if we don't make clear this information," Hansen told reporters. "Not every scientist is in a position to look at this picture and feel that we have some understanding of it from the emissions to the end consequences, and it would be inappropriate to not make that clear."
(14 February 2006)


Hotter issue in red states: global warming

Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor
From evangelicals to students to business groups, climate change is a rising political concern.
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Global warming isn't just a "blue state" issue anymore.

From the Rocky Mountain West to the Southeast, influential red-state voices are beginning to call for more concerted efforts at local, state, and federal levels to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

And they are prodding Washington to address the challenge of adapting to the effects of global warming, which many scientists say are at work.

So far, movement in a handful of red states has been modest when weighed against actions in California or the Northeast. But if this momentum is sustained, it will be harder for congressional and presidential candidates of either party to campaign in these states without backing more aggressive action to reduce emissions than the Bush administration has to date, some political analysts say.
(14 February 2006)


Increased CO2 may cause plant life to raise rivers

Fred Pearce, New Scientist
Plants around the world are using water much more efficiently, thanks to increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The effect is so pronounced, says a new study, that it is massively increasing river flows and raising the risks of flooding.

“We think it has added about 2000 cubic kilometres to annual global runoff, which is a pretty big deal,” says Nicola Gedney of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, UK, who led the study.

The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from burning carbon-based fossil fuels. Rising concentrations of the gas are believed to warming the atmosphere. But they also make it easier for plants to absorb the gas and convert it to plant tissue through photosynthesis, using less moisture in the process.

At the small scale this means plants release less moisture into the air through the pores on their leaves. Across the landscape, it leaves more moisture in soils and flowing into rivers.
(15 February 2006)


International study on Arctic climate change produces startling findings

Michelle Macafee, Canadian Press via Common Dreams
WINNIPEG - An extensive international study on the effects of climate change in the Arctic has reached some startling conclusions on issues ranging from how fast polar ice is melting to the impact on Inuit communities.

About 120 scientists from 11 countries involved in the Canadian-led research project, which started in 2002, are meeting in Winnipeg this week to present and discuss their findings.

One of the most surprising for David Barber, a sea ice specialist at the University of Manitoba, was the fact polar ice is melting at a rate of about 74,000 square kilometres each year - an area about the size of Lake Superior - and has been for the last 30 years.

"This is a very significant result, and it's not some sort of trend that's going to shift back the other way," Barber said Tuesday.

Barber added there is increasing concern in the scientific community that there are factors actually speeding up the melt, but he cautions it's too late to reverse the trend.

"The time to act actually was a few decades ago," he said.

"We're not going to be able to shift the economies of the planet to get off this fossil fuel addiction in a week, a year or a decade. But we have to start the process now to have some stability for future generations."
(15 February 2006)


Greenland glaciers disappearing more quickly: study

Maggie Fox, Reuters via Yahoo!News
Greenland's glaciers are dumping more than twice as much ice into the Atlantic Ocean now as 10 years ago because glaciers are sliding off the land more quickly, researchers said on Thursday.

This could mean oceans will rise even faster than forecast, and rising surface air temperatures appear to be to blame, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Glaciers around the world are disappearing quickly, several researchers told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science.
(16 February 2006)


Hockey fans face off against global warming, decry pols' inaction

Abid Aslam, OneWorld.net via Common Dreams
WASHINGTON - Global warming watch out: Ice hockey fans are out to get you.

Enthusiasts of the blend of ballet and battle geared up Thursday for protest matches on two continents, in the desert, and in the Arctic to call attention to the threat to winter sports posed by climate change.

The face off, timed to coincide with Thursday's anniversary of a landmark UN treaty to slow global warming, also would serve to highlight discontent with governments' implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, environmental activists said.

''Climate change is the biggest threat to hockey since the NHL labor talks,'' said Mike Hudema, an activist with the group Global Exchange. He referred to contract disputes between players and team owners in the National Hockey League.

''Throughout North America and Europe, we're seeing kids have less ice time and fewer cold days. It's time our governments drop the gloves on climate change before global warming ruins our national sports,'' Hudema said.
(16 February 2006)

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