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Climate Plan Looks Beyond Bush’s Tenure

Thomas Fuller and Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times
NUSA DUA, Indonesia – The world’s faltering effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions got a new lease on life on Saturday, as delegates from 187 countries agreed to negotiate a new accord over the next two years – pushing the crucial debates about United States participation into the administration of a new American president.

Many officials and environmental campaigners said American negotiators had remained obstructionist until the final hour of the two-week convention and had changed their stance only after public rebukes that included boos and hisses from other delegates.

The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago.

“The next presidential election takes place at the halfway point in these treaty talks,” David D. Doniger, who directs climate policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council and served in the Clinton administration, said on his Web log on Saturday. “So the U.S. will field a new team in the second half. And there are good odds that the next president will get serious on global warming.”
(16 December 2007)

Teacher’s climate message goes global

Scott Learn, Portland Oregonian
YouTube – Greg Craven’s video appeal about the dangers he says we face draws over 4 million views

INDEPENDENCE — Central High School science teacher Greg Craven had one night before the last day of school to finish “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See” in time to let his students know about it.

Downing cans of Red Bull, Craven holed up in a science lab of the Independence school, near Salem, editing all night. At 6 a.m., bleary-eyed, he posted his nine-minute, 33-second global warming video on YouTube.

His students linked to it on their MySpace pages. By that night, 60 people had clicked on it. The next day, 300. By Monday morning, 1,000. Craven was psyched. That kind of “viral” growth gets you noticed on YouTube, the Internet’s anarchic video smorgasbord. Within two hours, his wife called: It’s up to 10,000, she said.

Now, six months later, Craven’s earnest and quirky appeal to act on climate change has collected more than 4 million views worldwide — roughly 500 times the population of Independence. That puts it near the top of YouTube’s all-time list for views in the news and politics category, despite competition from videos featuring Britney Spears, Satan’s face in a 9/11 explosion and an Alabama leprechaun.

The 38-year-old family man has sifted through some 7,000 comments and discussions, mostly critical. “My toddler drools more cogent arguments,” one said.

After posting the first video, Craven agonized about a hole in his theory, skipped his aunt’s wedding to fill it, took a monthlong break at his wife’s insistence, then spent six weeks producing a 44-part, six-hour sequel, “How It All Ends.” It includes small explosions, silly hats Craven bought in a Nepalese tourist mart and a script totaling 70,000 words.

He slept two or three hours a night. He spent $500 on energy drinks. He made his relatives very nervous.

“It became a little bit maniacal,” Craven admitted last week from behind his desk at Central High. “But if you think you see the emergency escape hatch when the Titanic’s going down, you’re going to do what you can to help people get to it.”
(16 December 2007)

How It All Ends

Greg Craven, YouTube
(June 2007)
The latest version of the YouTube video mentioned in the previous article. Many more videos from this energetic high school teacher are available – click on “More” at “About this Video” for links. -BA

Desperate times, desperate scientists

Joseph Romm, Salon
Fed up with politicians and the media, scientists are pleading to the world to wake up to the imminent threats of global warming.

How dire is the climate situation? Consider what Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nations’ prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said last month: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” Pachauri has the distinction, or misfortune, of being both an engineer and an economist, two professions not known for overheated rhetoric.

In fact, far from being an alarmist, Pachauri was specifically chosen as IPCC chair in 2002 after the Bush administration waged a successful campaign to have him replace the outspoken Dr. Robert Watson, who was opposed by fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil. So why is a normally low-key scientist getting more desperate in his efforts to spur the planet to action?

Part of the answer is the most recent IPCC assessment report. For the first time in six years, more than 2,000 of the world’s top scientists reviewed and synthesized all of the scientific knowledge about global warming. The Fourth Assessment Report makes clear that the accelerating emissions of human-generated heat-trapping gases has brought the planet close to crossing a threshold that will lead to irreversible catastrophe. Yet like Cassandra’s warning about the Trojan horse, the IPCC report has fallen on deaf ears, especially those of conservative politicians, even as its findings are the most grave to date.
(12 December 2007)

Do recent storms indicate a climate shift?

Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor
The frequency of major storms in the Northwest and New England is up, say experts.

Most of the news about global climate change this week came from the climate meeting in Bali, Indonesia, and the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, where former Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) were awarded.

But residents in Centralia, Wash., are more focused on mud and the other damage from recent 100-m.p.h winds and torrential rains there.

What weather forecasters call the Pineapple Express roared through the area, resulting in considerable damage, flooded town centers and interstate highways, and the loss of some lives.

The connection: Experts say there’s increasing evidence that global warming is bringing changes in the weather – more major storms, droughts, and wildfires.

After analyzing data from weather stations, the nonprofit group Environment Washington recently reported that storms with heavy rainfall are 30 percent more frequent in Washington State now compared with 60 years ago.
(13 December 2007)