A roundup of the latest news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere. 
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Fears grow over long-term hit to Iraq oil output

Anjli Raval, Financial Times
The importance of Iraq – Opec’s second-biggest producer – to the global oil market can hardly be overstated…

Saudis Alert to Enemies on Both Sides of Iraq Schism

Glen Carey, Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia is a target for both sides in Iraq’s deepening conflict, one reason it has ramped up security levels to confront a threat that’s more immediate than the Arab Spring revolts three years ago.

The world’s biggest oil exporter convened its national security council for a rare meeting under King Abdullah, and has bolstered defenses at the border with Iraq, where militants last month seized several cities and declared an Islamic state. The king vowed to protect the nation’s “resources and territory and prevent any act of terror.”…

Shale boom confounds forecasts as US set to pass Russia, Saudi Arabia

Catherine Ngai, Reuters
Four years into the shale revolution, the U.S. is on track to pass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of crude oil, most analysts agree. When that happens and by how much, though, has produced disparate estimates that depend on uncertain factors ranging from progress in drilling technology to the availability of financing and the price of oil itself.

Forecasts for U.S. shale oil production vary from an increase of 7.5 million barrels per day by 2020 – almost doubling current domestic output of 8.5 bpd — to a gain of 1.5 million bpd, or less than half of what Iraq now produces…

Maersk plans $1.7 bln Brazil writedown; sells oilfield stake

Ole Mikkelsen and Jeb Blount, Reuters
Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk moved to shrink its Brazilian petroleum operations on Tuesday, selling its stake in its only producing Brazilian oilfield and saying it will write off $1.7 billion of investments in the country.

The write-off affects two exploration areas, Itaipu and Wahoo, which failed to deliver on oil volume expectations, and the Polvo field, both northeast of Rio de Janeiro in the Campos Basin, Maersk said…

"The Campos Basin has not been as prolific as the Santos, where we recently saw very good results," he said, adding the energy consulting group now had to rework its estimates of the reserves in the two plays.

"As of this morning, our estimates have been thrown out of the window."..

Renewable Energy Provided One-Third Of Germany’s Power In The First Half Of 2014

Kiley Kroh, Climate Progress
Thanks to favorable weather and record production from solar and wind power, renewable energy accounted for approximately 31 percent of Germany’s electricity generation in the first half of 2014.

Non-hydro renewables made up 27 percent of the country’s power, up from 24 percent last year, according to new data released by the Fraunhofer Institute. And for the first time ever, renewable energy sources accounted for a larger portion of electricity production than brown coal.

Production of wind and solar in particular saw substantial gains over the same time last year. Solar grew by 28 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to 2013 and wind power grew by 19 percent over the same period last year. “Solar and wind alone made up a whopping 17 percent of power generation, up from around 12-13 percent in the past few years,” reported Renewables International…


Oil explorers hit rock bottom

Financial Times
E&Ps have lost their lustre. That is partly because they seem to have lost the knack of discovering oil.

Has GDP outgrown its use?

David Pilling, Financial Times
The first thing to understand about GDP is that it is a measure of flow, not stock. A country with high GDP might have run down its infrastructure disastrously over years to maximise income. The US, with its ageing airports and less-than-pristine roads, is sometimes accused of precisely that.

Neither is any account taken of depleted resources…

Why does North Dakota oil explode so much?

Mark Reilly, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
Oil-industry shortcuts made in the early days of the North Dakota oil boom have left the state awash with crude oil that’s so unstable many pipeline companies won’t ship it. Cue the exploding trains…

Shale Gas Fracking In America Is Likely To Be The Cause Behind A Dramatic Rise In Earthquakes

Chris Pash, Business Insider
A dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of gas wells, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The research team was led by Katie Keranen, professor of geophysics at Cornell University, who says Oklahoma earthquakes constitute nearly half of all central and eastern US seismicity from 2008 to 2013…

Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More Than Old Ones

Seth Borenstein, Huffington Post
In Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells.

The results suggest that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation, said study lead author Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who heads an environmental activist group that helped pay for the study…

The Frack Lab

Mason Inman, Beacon Reader
The U.S. “shale revolution” has taken off in recent years. But journalists are largely avoiding one crucial, tough question: How long will the boom last? Back me, and I’ll get past the hype around shale by delving deeply into the data.

Oil sands pollutants contaminate traditional First Nations’ foods: report

Shawn McCarthy and Kelly Cryderman, Globe and Mail
New scientific research has found that wild-caught foods in northern Alberta have higher-than-normal levels of pollutants the study associates with oil sands production, but First Nations are already shifting away from their traditional diets out of fears over contamination.

The research, to be officially released on Monday, found contaminants in traditional foods such as muskrat and moose, and that aboriginal community members feel less healthy than they did a generation ago, according to an executive summary obtained by The Globe and Mail…

Pro-Fracking Group’s Petition Kills Plans for New National Park

Jason M. Vaughn, The West
Plans to convert the spectacular Colorado National Monument in western Colorado into a national park are dead, at least for the time being.

The congressional backers of the plan—GOP Congressman Scott Tipton and Democratic Senator Mark Udall—said that support and opposition for the new "Rim Rock Canyons National Park" appears to be evenly divided, and both had received a petition drafted by the conservative "Friends of Colorado National Monument" with over 2,500 signatures opposed to the change…

Four Carbon Pricing Pitfalls to Avoid

Kristin Eberhard, Sightline Daily
Despite its widely discussed woes, every year the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) cuts more carbon pollution than the entire state of Oregon spits out. That’s no small feat. The EU cap-and- trade program limits carbon dioxide emissions from more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 28 participating countries, covering 45 percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The market has operated for nearly a decade with no market manipulation and no deleterious economic impacts, and it is on track to reduce pollution 21 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Nonetheless, the early years were rocky for Europe’s carbon-pricing pioneer. Here’s what Oregon and Washington can learn from the EU’s missteps…

To Improve Accuracy, BBC Tells Its Reporters To Stop Giving Air Time To Climate Deniers

Emily Atkin, Think Progress
Reporters for BBC News are being directed to significantly curb the amount of air time they give to people with anti-science viewpoints — including people who deny climate change exists — in order to improve the accuracy and fairness of the network’s news coverage, according to a report released by the BBC’s governing body on Thursday.

The BBC Trust’s report was designed to assess the network’s impartiality in science coverage, in other words, whether it is staying neutral on critical issues. In order to be neutral when covering science, however, the BBC noted it needs to avoid “false balance,” a fallacy that occurs when two sides of an argument are assumed to have equal value.

“Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given,” the report said…

California drought: America’s golden state runs dry – and its farmers are struggling to survive

Tim Walker, The Independent
The state’s $45bn farming industry produces almost half the fruit and veg grown in the US, and plummeting yields mean consumers are beginning to feel the effects…

Oklahoma drought kindles spectre of 1930s ‘Dust Bowl’

David Shukman, BBC
A menacing cloud of dust swirling above a parched field in Oklahoma is a disturbing reminder of the power of drought.

"Somebody asked me the other day if dust storms would happen again and I said ‘they already have’ – we’ve had some pretty good dust storms this spring," he said…

Indiana University research: We want to save water, but do we know how?
Press Release, Indiana University News
Many Americans are confused about the best ways to conserve water and have a slippery grasp on how much water different activities use, according to a national online survey conducted by an Indiana University researcher…

The results of the survey of 1,020 participants are detailed in the article "Perceptions of Water Use" by author Shahzeen Attari, an assistant professor at Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The article appears March 2 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"People may be focusing on curtailment or cutting back rather than efficiency improvements because of the upfront costs involved," Attari said. "It is also surprising how few participants mentioned retrofitting their toilets. Even though toilets use less water volumetrically than washers and showers per use, the frequency of use results in the highest water use overall."…

Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn

John Vidal, The Guardian
Security analysts in London and Baghdad say control of rivers and dams has become a major tactical weapon for Isis…

Blueprints for Taming the Climate Crisis

Eduardo Porter, New York Times
Here’s what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change.

Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. In fact, by midcentury more than half of the American economy will run on electricity. Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal’s footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply.

This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations that explores the technological paths available for the world’s 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc…

Mr Modi and the Environment – A Green Vision or a Grey Area?

Avay Shukla, Hill Post
The most disappointing and worrying aspect of the recent elections, for me, has been the almost complete absence of any debate or discussion on the environment…

A recent World Bank survey of environment quality in 178 countries ranked India at 155. And yet, over the last ten years we have allowed politicians, corporates and shrill TV anchors to hijack the debate and vilify the environment as the main impediment to economic utopia…

Will Mr Modi Change This Mindset?
I have grave misgivings on this account because the few signals that his government has sent out so far are not encouraging. Lets look at some of them:…

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains- he has made them his home.

What’s Killing the Children in Jadugora, India?

Rakteem Katakey, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Tom Lasseter, Bloomberg
For years, these desperately poor people living in scattered villages in the shadow of these mines have been tormented by a mystery: What’s causing the wasting diseases that are deforming and killing so many of their children?…

In February, the High Court in the state capital of Ranchi filed a petition that pointed to the mines operated by Uranium Corp. since 1967. Shocked by photographs of the area’s sick and deformed children in the Indian press, the court ordered the company and relevant government agencies to explain what measures they were taking to protect the health of those living in villages around the mines.

It’s not just the World Cup Brazilians are protesting about

Steffen Böhm, Rafael Kruter Flores, The Conversation
The World Cup has highlighted Brazil’s dissatisfaction with the mega-development involved in building the tournament’s infrastructure. But the football stadiums are just the latest in a long line of Brazilian mega-developments, including building venues for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Belo Monte Dam and the Cuiaba-Santarem Highway – all of which have caused controversy.

The Brazilian government and private investors claim there is a need for these mega-projects. They promise they will develop rural areas, boost employment rates, add much needed infrastructure, foster economic growth and preserve energy security. But they are often controversial because they tend to benefit a small group of elites, and involve stark environmental and social impacts…

The Greatest Urban Experiment Right Now
Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
Cycling levels have stagnated for years in Copenhagen. Hovering between 35% and 38%. Falling from 37% to 35% after intense helmet promotion.

Now there are new numbers from the Danish Technical University’s Travel Survey.

Between 2012 and 2013, the modal share for bicycles (people arriving at work or education in the City of Copenhagen) exploded from 36% to 41%.

Forty-one percent. A leap of 5%.

The car’s modal share fell from 27% to 24%.,,

Okay, okay. But what does it all MEAN?…

Boosting community conservation in Europe

Elizabeth Owuor, Deutsche Welle
Community conservation projects have been re-shaping the European landscape for the last few decades. Now, the movement is making its next big leap – acting in concert with policy makers to boost sustainability.

No cars. No cell phones. And lots of straw houses. “Sieben Linden” isn’t your typical town, it’s a thriving eco-village in the heart of the Sachsen-Anhalt region of the former East Germany where residents have quietly fashioned a micro-society in the service of sustainability…

A new way to buy local produce? Food Assembly is coming to Britain

Joanne O’Connell, The Guardian
The Food Assembly, a method of buying and selling food which supports local producers and bypasses the large chains, is coming over from France where it has spread rapidly since 2011, and is set to launch in the UK on 22 July.

The pop-up pre-order food shopping system, known in France as La Ruche Qui Dit Oui – "the hive that says yes" – are cross between a farmer’s market and a buying group. Each assembly is organised by a leader who signs up for the job (which comes with a small commission-based income), organises venues and signs up local producers and growers to the scheme. Products are then advertised on a local page, on the central website and consumers select and pay for the produce online and are told when they can come and collect their goods…

A classical music album about climate challenges is a surprise atop the charts

Jason Margolis, PRI
When I first heard about an unusual classical album — devoted to a droplet of water moving from snow to a mountain stream to the ocean and back to the clouds — performed in 10 languages, I thought it might be a bit much…

I asked Tin if he thinks his audience would get this message and other themes running throughout the album, assuming we don’t speak Old Norse or ancient Greek.

Tin says it doesn’t matter if people don’t understand Old Norse, or Lango or Bulgarian. He wants people, first and foremost, to enjoy his music. And if they also get the message behind it, even better….

News clippings image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.