Climate Groups Use Endangered Species Act to Try to Stop Drilling – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Oil burned from a well drilled in Wyoming adds to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is heating the planet and devastating coral reefs in Florida, polar bears in the Arctic and monk seals in Hawaii. But drawing a direct line from any single source of pollution to the destruction of a species is virtually impossible.

Environmentalists want the government to try.

On Wednesday a coalition of organizations sued the Biden administration for consistently failing to consider the harms caused to endangered species from the emissions produced by oil and gas drilling on public lands.

If the coalition succeeds by invoking the protections under the Endangered Species Act, more than 3,500 drilling permits issued during the Biden administration could be revoked and future permitting could be far more difficult.”

Thomas Friedman | Why Do We Swallow What Big Oil and the Green Movement Tell Us? – The New York Times

“. . . . Because our continued addiction to fossil fuels is bolstering Vladimir Putin’s petrodictatorship and creating a situation where we in the West are — yes, say it with me now — funding both sides of the war. We fund our military aid to Ukraine with our tax dollars and some of America’s allies fund Putin’s military with purchases of his oil and gas exports.

And if that’s not the definition of insanity, then I don’t know what is.

Have no illusion — these sins of the green movement and the oil industry are not equal. The greens are trying to fix a real, planet-threatening problem, even if their ambition exceeds their grasp. The oil and coal companies know that what they are doing is incompatible with a stable, healthy environment. Yes, they are right that without them there would be no global economy today. But unless they use their immense engineering talents to become energy companies, not just fossil fuel companies, there will be no livable economy tomorrow.

Let’s look at both. For too long, too many in the green movement have treated the necessary and urgent shift we need to make from fossil fuels to renewable energy as though it were like flipping a switch — just get off oil, get off gasoline, get off coal and get off nuclear — and do it NOW, without having put in place the kind of transition mechanisms, clean energy sources and market incentives required to make such a massive shift in our energy system.

It’s Germany in 2011, suddenly deciding after the Fukushima accident to phase out its 17 relatively clean and reliable nuclear reactors, which provided some 25 percent of the country’s electricity. This, even though Germany had nowhere near enough solar, wind, geothermal or hydro to replace that nuclear power. So now it’s burning more coal and gas.

A 2019 working paper for the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research found that in Germany “the lost nuclear electricity production due to the phaseout was replaced primarily by coal-fired production and net electricity imports. The social cost of this shift from nuclear to coal is approximately $12 billion per year. Over 70 percent of this cost comes from the increased mortality risk associated with exposure to the local air pollution emitted when burning fossil fuels.” “

Margaret Renkl | Wondering How to Help Stop Climate Change? Do Less. – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — When I mention the new meadow I am cultivating where our front yard used to be, my adult children roll their eyes. The word “meadow” conjures the mental image of a sunny field of blooming wildflowers, but this one is a work in progress. A dream more than an actuality.

The new meadow where our front yard used to be is mainly white clover, chickweed and grass gone to seed, though there are also patches of low-growing violets, which I love, and creeping Charlie, which I do not. (An invasive species, creeping Charlie is the bane of the natural yard.) But already there are also some lovely clumps of fleabane — small daisylike flowers on knee-high stems — that look very much like the romantic fields brought to mind by the word “meadow.” Soon there will be other flowers, too. Perhaps not this year but certainly the next, and there will be even more the year after that.

This is not a statement of faith but of fact. Every year we let more patches of our yard go wild, and every year more flowers appear in the uncut areas. First came pokeweed and butterweed in the backyard, then white snakeroot and Carolina elephant’s foot in the side yard. Last year we had frost asters for the first time.

May is Garden for Wildlife Month, according to the National Wildlife Federation, but gardening doesn’t necessarily mean planting. It can also mean giving the volunteer flowers a permanent home. Because where there are wildflowers, there will be insects. And where there are insects, there will be birds and bats and tree frogs and many other creatures who rely on the protein insects provide.”

“. . . For years, we mowed it all into a conventional yard after spring’s first wild profusion of flowers was over. Then I read Douglas W. Tallamy’s 2007 book “Bringing Nature Home” and learned how much more we could be doing beyond tolerating moles and keeping the yard poison-free. We started planting native trees, flowers and shrubs, too, understanding that native wildlife needs native plants to eat. We started letting leaves and deadwood lie to feed and shelter insects. And we let the unused parts of the yard grow up.”

Canadian Hydropower Destined for U.S. Hits a Roadblock in Maine – The New York Times

“RADISSON, Quebec — Hundreds of feet below a remote forest near Hudson Bay, Serge Abergel inspected the spinning turbines at the heart of the biggest subterranean power plant in the world, a massive facility that converts the water of the La Grande River into a current of renewable electricity strong enough to power a midsize city.

Mr. Abergel, a senior executive at Hydro Quebec, has for years been working on an ambitious effort to send electricity produced from the river down through the woods of northern Maine and on to Massachusetts, where it would help the state meet its climate goals.

Yet today, work on the $1 billion project is at a standstill.

Over the past few years, an unlikely coalition of residents, conservationists and Native Americans waged a rowdy campaign funded by rival energy companies to quash the effort. The opponents won a major victory in November, when Maine voters passed a measure that halted the project. Following a legal fight, proponents appealed to the state Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on the case on May 10 about whether such a referendum is legal.”

“. . . . While roughly 100 miles of the new wire will be strung along an existing high transmission corridor that will be widened, the project will also require a cut through 53 miles of largely uninhabited forest near the Canadian border. Steel poles will be erected near streams where brook trout spawn, and in locations that could disrupt scenic vistas.

Those concerns, along with questions about whether the project would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, persuaded prominent environmental groups, including local Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, to oppose the project. Critics of hydropower contend that the large-scale flooding required to create reservoirs leads to emissions of methane, a potent planet warming gas.”

David Lindsay: Upsetting story. This project would dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of New England, but NIMBY ism is attacking a brilliant, major project to replace oodles of dirty electricity with clean electricity. The local opposition is heavily funded by two natural gas production companies, and a nuclear power company. They have put $27 million into stopping this giant mitigation project.

Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills – The New York Times

“Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses.

The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive.

In Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and New York, rates are up about 15 percent, according to the Energy Department’s latest figures. Combined with a seasonal increase in the use of electricity as people turn on air-conditioners, the higher rates will leave many people paying a lot more for power this summer than they did last year.”

This Eminent Scientist Vaclav Smil Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real – The New York Times

“The “really” in the title of Vaclav Smil’s newest book, “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going,” is doing some heavy lifting. Implicit in the renowned energy scientist’s usage is the idea that most of us are uninformed or just plain wrong about the fundamentals of the global economy. He aims to correct that — to recenter materials rather than electronic flows of data as the bedrock of modern life — largely through examining what he calls the four pillars of modern civilization: cement, steel, plastics and ammonia. (The production and use of all four currently requires burning huge amounts of fossil carbon.) Which brings us back to that “really.” In the context of Smil’s book, which will be published May 10, the word is also a rebuke to those calling for rapid decarbonization in order to combat global warming. “I am not talking about what could be done,” says Smil, who is 78 and who counts Bill Gates among his many devotees. “I’m looking at the world as it is.” ”

David Lindsay: A sobering and depressing converstation about the climate crisis. We are really in trouble, and not doing very much about it.  Just a smattering of suggested solution, like a stipend on small efficient cars, and a tax on SUV’s. But, there was one comment that stood out, for clarity, and direction.

Woof

Interesting article, but an international comparison shows that the US can cut its emission to *half* without significantly impacting its standard of living.

Country,  CO2 emissions per  annual capita in tons,    Carbon Tax

US 16.06  No (as in No Carbon Tax


United Kingdom 5.48 Yes  (as Yes, they have a carbon tax)

France 4.97 Yes

Spain 5.41 Yes

Sweden 4.26 Yes

Americans emit four times as much green house gases per person than Sweden. But the Swedes live just as well as Americans, and by some measures such as cost of education, social safety nets etc better And a chief reason for it, is that Sweden has the highest carbon tax in the world. And yet, there is NO carbon tax in the Biden plan. Nor does the word appear in the interview. To an economist, this is strange Biden’s plan is to reduce US emissions by 2030 to half of what they were in 2005 (19.59); that would 9.795 tons per capita in 2030 TWICE what Swedes emit now. Clearly, that is can be done – if US voters agree. It is the attitude of US voters that is the obstacle. And the solution is an education campaign on the scale of that essentially eliminated cigarette smoking in the US Start there

228 Recommended

Trash or Recycling? Why Plastic Keeps Us Guessing. – The New York Times

“The universal symbol for recycling, known as the “chasing arrows” logo, is stamped on so many things. But that doesn’t mean they’re recyclable.

Manufacturers can print the logo on just about any product. That’s because its main purpose isn’t to say whether it’s recyclable, but to identify the type of plastic it’s made from. (For example, if there’s a “3” in the center, it’s PVC, which most curbside recycling programs don’t accept.) The logo is so widely misunderstood that last year California banned its use on things that aren’t recyclable.

There are efforts to improve the system. But first, the central question:

Why is this so hard?

The rules are confusing.

The unhelpful symbol is just one aspect of a recycling system that is far too confusing to be broadly effective. It puts the burden on individuals to decode a secret language — to figure out not only whether a thing is recyclable, but also if their local recycling program actually accepts it.”

Thomas L. Friedman | How to Defeat Putin and Save the Planet – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/29/opinion/how-to-defeat-putin-and-save-the-planet.html

Opinion Columnist

“It is impossible to predict how the war in Ukraine will end. I fervently hope it’s with a free, secure and independent Ukraine. But here is what I know for sure: America must not waste this crisis. This is our umpteenth confrontation with a petro-dictator whose viciousness and recklessness are possible only because of the oil wealth he extracts from the ground. No matter how the war ends in Ukraine, it needs to end with America finally, formally, categorically and irreversibly ending its addiction to oil.

Nothing has distorted our foreign policy, our commitments to human rights, our national security and, most of all, our environment than our oil addiction. Let this be the last war in which we and our allies fund both sides. That’s what we do. Western nations fund NATO and aid Ukraine’s military with our tax dollars, and — since Russia’s energy exports finance 40 percent of its state budget — we fund Vladimir Putin’s army with our purchases of Russian oil and gas.

Now, how stupid is that?

Our civilization simply cannot afford this anymore. Climate change has not taken a timeout for the war in Ukraine. Have you checked the weather report for the North and South Poles lately? Simultaneous extreme heat waves gripped part of Antarctica this month, driving temperatures there to 70 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average for this time of year, and areas of the Arctic, making them more than 50 degrees warmer than average.

Those are not typos. Those are crazy superextremes.

“They are opposite seasons — you don’t see the North and the South (Poles) both melting at the same time,” Walter Meier, a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, recently told The Associated Press. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.” And last Friday, no surprise, scientists announced that an ice shelf the size of New York City had collapsed in East Antarctica at the beginning of this freakish warm spell.

It was the first time humans observed “that the frigid region had an ice shelf collapse,” The A.P. noted, adding that if all the water frozen in East Antarctica melts, it would raise sea levels more than 160 feet around the world.”

” , , , , , The best and fastest way to do that, argues Hal Harvey, the C.E.O. of Energy Innovation, a clean energy consultancy, is by increasing clean power standards for electric utilities. That is, require every U.S. power utility to reduce its carbon emissions by shifting to renewables at a rate of 7 to 10 percent a year — i.e., faster than ever.

Utopian? Nope. The C.E.O. of American Electric Power, once utterly coal dependent, has now pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, using mostly natural gas as a backup. Thirty-one states have already set steadily rising clean energy standards for their public utilities. Let’s go for all 50 — now.

At the same time, let’s enact a national law that gives every consumer the ability to join this fight. That would be a law eliminating the regulatory red tape around installing rooftop solar systems while giving every household in America a tax rebate to do so, the way Australia has done — a country that is now growing its renewable markets faster per capita than China, Europe, Japan and America.

When cars, trucks, buildings, factories and homes are all electrified and your grid is running mostly on renewables — presto! — we become increasingly free of fossil fuels, and Putin becomes increasingly dollar poor.” -30-

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
To the Editors of the New York Times,
I appreciate that you dropped your pay wall, for subscribers to share articles about the Covid 19 epidemic. I now think you should drop your pay wall, for subscribers to share articles about climate change and the sixth extinction. I would even argue, that the free articles about covid, are far less important.
As a hawk for the environment, I dare suggest, that the extinction of millions of species, including our own, is a bigger crisis that the pandemic. In fact, pandemics are one of nature’s ways to keep humans from overpopulating themselves to the point of their own oblivion.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls) – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/climate/celtic-wisdom-trees-climate.html

“MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans.

At a hale 77, Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a medical biochemist, botanist, organic chemist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world, in prose that is scientifically exacting yet startlingly affecting, the wondrous capabilities of trees.

Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s goal is to combat the climate crisis by fighting for what’s left of the great forests (she says the vast boreal wilderness that stretches across the Northern Hemisphere is as vital as the Amazon) and rebuilding what’s already come down. Trees store carbon dioxide and oxygenate the air, making them “the best and only thing we have right now to fight climate change and do it fast,” she said.

Her admirers, who included the late biodiversity pioneer E.O. Wilson, say what sets Dr. Beresford-Kreoger apart is the breadth of her knowledge. She can talk about the medicinal value of trees in one breath and their connection to human souls in the next. She moved Jane Fonda to tears. She inspired Richard Powers to base a central character of his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, “The Overstory,” in part on her: He has called her a “maverick” and her work “the best kind of animism.” “