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Climate, politics & money - May 6

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White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral

Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian
Senior US government officials are to be briefed at the White House this week on the danger of an ice-free Arctic in the summer within two years.

The meeting is being organised by a US brains trust on the Arctic consisting of Nasa's acting chief scientist, Gale Allen, the director of the US National Science Foundation, Cora Marett, as well as representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.

This is the latest indication that US officials are increasingly concerned about the international and domestic security implications of climate change...

US national security officials have taken an increasing interest in the destabilising impact of climate change. In February this year, the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its new Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which noted that global warming will have:

"... significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to greater competition for more limited and critical life-sustaining resources like food and water."...

While the DoD is also concerned about the Arctic, the focus is less on risks than on opportunities:

"The Department is developing cooperative partnerships with interagency and international Arctic stakeholders to collaboratively address future opportunities and potential challenges inherent in the projected opening of the Arctic."

Arctic "stakeholders" include US, Russian, Canadian, Norwegian and Danish energy firms, which are scrambling to exploit the northern polar region's untapped natural wealth. The region is estimated to hold a quarter of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas reserves, sparking concerted efforts by these countries to expand their Arctic military presence... 
(2 May 2013)


Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volume 1979-2012

Brendan Demelle, DeSmogBlog

Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volume 1979-2012 (via Desmogblog)

If your roof is leaking, do you ignore it and hope it will fix itself? This new animation created by Andy Lee Robinson depicts Arctic Sea Ice minimum volumes reached every September since 1979. It's a depressing sight, for sure. Andy makes it a little less difficult to view with his own piano sountrack…


(30 April 2013)


San Francisco city council asks pension fund to divest its oil shares

Frank McDonald, Irish Times
A campaign by climate activist Bill McKibben's 350.org has scored its biggest victory so far by persuading San Francisco's city council to call on its pension fund to divest $583 million (€447.5 million) worth of shares in major oil companies.

The decision, made last Tuesday, called on the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System to sell all of its holdings in companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, Occidental Petroleum and China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation over the next five years.

“Divestment is an important part of our city response to climate change,” said John Avalos, a member of the board of supervisors, as the city council is archaically called. “The retirement board can divest responsibly without affecting the fund’s security or yield.”...
(1 May 2013)


The giants of the green world that profit from the planet's destruction

Naomi Klein, The Guardian
The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. Chapters have opened up in more than 100 US cities and states as well as on more than 300 campuses, where students are holding protests, debates and sit-ins to pressure their to rid their endowments of oil, gas and coal holdings. And under the "Fossil Free UK" banner, the movement is now crossing the Atlantic, with a major push planned by People & Planet for this summer. Some schools, including University College London, have decided not to wait and already have active divestment campaigns.

Though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and, in late April, 10 US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago).

There are still all kinds of details to work out to toughen up these pledges, but the speed with which this idea has spread makes it clear that there was some serious pent-up demand. To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels." I am proud to have been part of the group at 350.org that worked with students and other partners to develop the Fossil Free campaign. But I now realise that an important target is missing from the list: the environmental organisations themselves...
(3 May 2013)


The Politicization of Climate Reignites Environmental Advocates

Brendon Steele, Triple Pundit
Amid a backdrop of severe and often catastrophic weather events in 2012, the environmental grassroots reignited around climate change. Each calamity heightened public anxiety, and over the year calls for action grew successively bolder. While droughts crippled crops in much of the western U.S., Bill McKibben’s 350.org and its allies orchestrated a consistent slate of climate-oriented campaigns. But, it took Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s strong support of climate action, and the reelection of President Obama to get climate back on the political radar screen.

Certainly, the politicization of climate will direct activism in the next couple of months. Some environmental stakeholders, dismayed by 2012’s climate silence, will look to leapfrog to a zero-carbon economy; others will look for easier wins through the EPA and by pressuring companies to adopt stricter procurement standards...
(29 April 2013)


Even A Moderate Price For Carbon Pollution Has a Big Impact On U.S. Emissions

Joe Romm, Think Progress
Last week, I wrote a piece “Extending Current Energy Policies Would Keep U.S. Carbon Pollution Emissions Flat Through 2040.” It was based on the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), summed up in this chart:



But EIA has modeled other cases than just one that extends tax credits for renewables and the like. In fact, EIA has a chart-creating website that allows you to pick different scenarios...
(6 May 2013)


How climate scientists are being framed

Graham Readfearn, The Guardian
Have you seen the spirited new game being played by a few right-wing columnists in high profile media outlets of late?

The game is called "You've been framed" and it's available at a toyshop or conservative-leaning news outlet in an alternative reality near you.

Another name for this game might be "What's the most offensive and ridiculous thing we can get away with saying about climate scientists?"

To play, you need to first pretend thousands of studies, inquiries and reports into climate change and the science behind it never happened...
(2 May 2013)

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