Environment - Apr 11
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Flannery puts to rest doubts over global warming
Steve Heilig, SF Chronicle
Review of The Weather Makers
How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
By Tim Flannery
ATLANTIC; 357 PAGES; $24
"Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." So the cliche goes. But as it turns out, most of us actually are doing something, and that's not good. There have been many books about the global warming controversy. But Tim Flannery, a respected Australian paleontologist and author of previous books on science for the public, argues persuasively in "The Weather Makers" that the time for "controversy" is past. And, he laments, "one of the biggest obstacles to making a start on climate change is that it has become a cliche before it has even been understood."
Flannery came to write this book in a roundabout way, from sideline observations during his research and travels studying various mammals, extinct and current. "By late 2004, my interest had turned to anxiety," he notes. "The world's leading science journals were full of reports that glaciers were melting ten times faster than previously thought, that atmospheric greenhouse gases had reached levels not seen for millions of years, and that species were vanishing as a result of climate change. There were also reports of extreme weather events, long-term droughts, and rising sea levels."
Attorney Matthew Pawa targets top U.S. utilities with global warming lawsuit (VIDEO)
OnPoint, E&E TV
Last fall, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against five major electric utilities which sought reductions in the companies' greenhouse gas emissions. Now the attorneys behind that lawsuit -- representing eight states and several environmental groups -- are pushing to have the case reinstated.
During today's OnPoint, Matthew Pawa, an attorney representing the Open Space Institute in the case, explains why federal judges need to act ahead of Congress and the White House on global warming. He discusses the track record of other climate change cases moving in federal court, and why utilities need to move faster with carbon dioxide reductions.
(10 April 2006)
Craft nears Venus to seek global warming clues
Warren E. Leary, NY Times
WASHINGTON — After getting little attention for more than a decade, Venus is about to receive a visiting spacecraft from Earth designed to investigate its dense, hot atmosphere for clues about runaway global warming that may shed light on potential changes here.
... "Venus Express is equipped to peer beneath the thick clouds that encircle the planet and probe the mysteries of Venus with a precision never achieved before, and find out why Venus evolved so differently to Earth," said Fred Taylor of Oxford, a member of the project team.
Venus and Earth are roughly the same size and mass, and are composed of the same materials, but evolved differently hundreds of millions of years ago. Venus is covered with a thick mantle of perpetual clouds with a dense atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide laced with sulfuric acid. The clouds hold in heat from the sun and possible volcanic activity, resulting in a constant surface temperature of 870 degrees. The crushing atmospheric pressure is a hundred times greater than on the Earth's surface.
(9 April 2006)
Governor to focus on global warming
Critics question his resolve on an issue dear to green voters
Mark Martin, SF Chronicle
Sacramento -- With his plan to build new schools and roads stalled, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is turning his focus to combatting global warming -- a burgeoning political issue that aides and pollsters say could be election-year gold for a governor in need of a major accomplishment.
But as Schwarzenegger hopes this year to woo moderate Democrats and independents by touting his green credentials, Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists are preparing to force Schwarzenegger to back up his tough rhetoric on greenhouse gases by sending him first-of-its-kind legislation that goes further than anything the governor has so far called for.
The proposal, to enact stringent reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases that power plants, manufacturers and other industries emit into the air, will spotlight whether Schwarzenegger is truly committed to earning a position among California environmental trendsetters, activists say.
"Once and for all, we will be able to see if he can make a tough choice and live up to his own promises,'' said Bill Magavern, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, which has criticized Schwarzenegger at times for being less environmentally friendly than his speeches suggest.
Last Monday administration officials unveiled a long-awaited final report with several recommendations on how to reach goals Schwarzenegger laid out last summer to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in California during the next five decades. The governor is scheduled to make appearances in San Francisco and Davis this week to continue talking about the environment, a clear signal he and aides believe it's a good issue for him.
(10 April 2006)