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A roundup of news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere.  Click on the headline link to see the full article.

Blame for warming heaped on humans

Tim Radford, Climate News Network
Simple statement: 13 of the 15 warmest years ever recorded have occurred within the first 15 years of this century. Complicated question: what is the probability that this happened purely by chance? The latest calculated answer: it could be one in 5000, or it could be as unlikely as one in 170,000, or it could be somewhere in between.

Conclusion: whatever the odds, the probability that this run of warmest years is an accident is vanishingly small. The odds instead that it has all happened because humans have been clearing forests and burning fossil fuels – increasing the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, and thus warming the planet inexorably – are overwhelming…

Opec pleads for Russian alliance to smash oil speculators

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Mehreen Khan, The Daily Telegraph
The Opec oil cartel has issued its strongest plea to date for a pact with Russia and rival producers to cut crude output and halt the collapse in prices, warning that the deepening investment slump is storing up serious trouble for the future.

Abdullah al-Badri, Opec’s secretary-general, said the cartel is ready to embrace rivals and thrash out a compromise following the 72pc crash in prices since mid-2014.

"Tough times requires tough choices. It is crucial that all major producers sit down and come up with a solution," he told a Chatham House conference in London.

Mr al-Badri said the world needs an investment blitz of $10 trillion to replace depleting oil fields and to meet extra demand of 17m barrels per day (b/d) by 2040, yet projects are being shelved at an alarming rate. A study by IHS found that investment for the years from 2015 to 2020 has been slashed by $1.8 trillion, compared to what was planned in 2014…

India energy minister says solar power now cheaper than coal

Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy
The latest auction of solar energy capacity in India has achieved a new record low price of 4.34 rupees/kWh, prompting the country’s energy minister Piyush Goyal to say that solar tariffs are now cheaper than coal-fired generation.

The results of a reverse auction tender of 420MW of solar capacity conducted by the Rajasthan government revealed this week that Finnish group Fortum Energy bid the lowest price of 4.34 rupees/kWh for a 70MW solar PV plant.

It is the lowest price obtained so far in India, which aims to install more than 100GW of solar by 2022, and was hailed by Goyal as a sign that solar power is now cheaper than coal power…

US could cut power emissions 78% by 2030 using existing technology, says study

Sophie Yeo, Carbon Brief
In their pursuit of a connected nation, Americans built transcontinental railroads in the nineteenth century and the interstate highway system in the twentieth century.

With a similar level of effort, the US could construct a nationwide energy infrastructure that cuts carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 80%, says a study in Nature Climate Change.

This could be achieved without increasing the cost of electricity, thus providing an economic incentive to tackle the problem of climate change…

How Congress And The Supreme Court Blew Up The Natural Gas ‘Bridge’ To Renewables

Joe Romm, Think Progress
Thanks to recent decisions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Roberts Supreme Court, renewable energy (and energy efficiency) have been given a major boost. A new analysis suggests that this boost, particularly the extension of the solar and wind energy tax credits in the end-of-year budget deal, is large enough to wipe out the natural gas renaissance that had been recently brought on by cheap shale gas.

For decades, natural gas advocates have been advancing their fossil fuel as a necessary bridge to a renewable energy future. The argument has been that natural gas is a low-carbon fuel able to power our modern economy more cheaply and dependably than “intermittent” solar and wind. Indeed, the boom in low-cost fracked gas seemed to be proving the advocates right…

China to build floating nuclear power plants

Staff, Deutsche Welle
China has detailed its plans to build floating nuclear plants amid Beijing’s drive to double its atomic energy capacity by the end of this decade. The buoyant power stations will be a first once completed in 2020…

Radioactive waste dogs Germany despite abandoning nuclear power

Fred Pearce, New Scientist
Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface…

An increasingly precious metal

San Pedro Atacama , The Economist
Amid a surge in demand for rechargeable batteries, companies are scrambling for supplies of lithium…

World heritage forests burn as global tragedy unfolds in Tasmania

Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian
A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char.

Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity.

Unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, these plants have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die…

The specter of geoengineering haunts the Paris climate agreement

Daniel Tanuro, Climate and Capitalism
To avoid challenging the fossil fuel profiteers, the Paris negotiators bet on untested and dangerous geoengineering technologies.

Belgian ecosocialist Daniel Tanuro is the author of Green Capitalism: Why It Can’t Work (Merlin Press, 2013). This article, which will also be published in French in Inprecor, has been translated for Climate and Capitalism by Ian Angus…

Safe Passage

Ben Goldfarb, Orion Magazine
The success of large wildlife corridors depends as much on sharing space as it does on stitching the wilderness together.

on a soggy September afternoon in southeast British Columbia, Nancy Newhouse swung her truck through a bank of pearl-colored fog and bounced to a halt on the shoulder of Highway 3A. Newhouse, Tom Swann, and I emerged into the cold mist, stepping carefully around the puddled ruts carved in the pullout. A convoy of logging trucks, their beds heavy with timber, sprayed mud at our shins. Adjusting our raingear, we began trudging north along the highway; to our left, a screen of cedar, spruce, and Doug fir shielded the valley below. After a hundred yards, the curtain thinned, and Newhouse stopped.

“There it is,” she said, the hood of her Nature Conservancy of Canada raincoat pulled low over her eyes. She pointed through the trees, toward the floor of the Creston Valley. “There’s the corridor.” I followed her finger, baffled. Sorry, I wanted to ask, but where’s the corridor? I searched in vain for signage. A non- descript swath of grainfields glimmered through the shifting fog. The land lay flat, furrowed with oats. The brown arm of a dike, built to stave off the floodwaters of nearby Duck Lake, wormed across the property.

Though the land appeared mundane to my human eye—Yellowstone it wasn’t—from a grizzly bear’s standpoint you’d be hard-pressed to find a more important parcel in North America. This humble polygon of farmland, dubbed the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor, was a crucial piece in a two- thousand-mile puzzle, a bridge that would allow isolated clusters of Ursus arctos horribilis to mingle and mate. “This movement corridor is well known,” Swann, Newhouse’s colleague at Nature Conservancy of Canada, told me as raindrops pooled in his trim white beard. “The science is clear.” That science was why NCC had recently purchased and protected 679 acres of the Creston Valley. Though the land’s $2.5 million price tag was steep, Newhouse and Swann had help: over half the funds had come from the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, one of the world’s most ambitious wildlife groups…

Polish government backs small farmers’ and food sovereignty

Julian Rose / ICPPC via The Ecologist
Elected in October 2015, Poland’s new Law and Justice government is responding to a campaign to relax the repressive food and hygiene regulations that have dogged the Country’s small and medium sized farmers.

Recent governments since Poland joined the EU in 2004 have outlawed the sale of on-farm processed foods unless farmers establish their operations as a separate business and in separate hygienically sanitised buildings.

That’s competely unaffordable to the great majority of small farmers whose holdings typically range from between 3 and 10 hectares…


News clippings image via shutterstock. Reproduced at with permission.