By Hiroko Tabuchi
Dec. 13, 2018, 181
“When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them.
But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country’s largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.
The campaign’s main argument for significantly easing fuel efficiency standards — that the United States is so awash in oil it no longer needs to worry about energy conservation — clashed with decades of federal energy and environmental policy.”
DL: Here is a story from this summer I missed.
By KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS and NADJA POPOVICH JULY 11, 2018
“July kicked off with searingly hot temperatures for most Americans this year.
New daily, monthly and all-time record highs were set across the country last week, with more than 100 million people sweating it out under heat warnings or advisories. But the low nighttime temperatures that usually provide a crucial respite from scorching summer days have been more quietly making history.
On July 2, Burlington, Vt., set a record for its hottest overnight temperature as the thermometer refused to budge below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Four days later, central Los Angeles hit 95 degrees before 11 a.m., already breaking the previous daily record of 94 degrees, before rising to well over 100 in the afternoon.”
“There are a billion fewer birds in North America than there were 40 years ago, and a fifth of the bird species on the continent are listed as “vulnerable” to population collapse over the next few decades.
You can help many of them survive the winter by putting down the garden tools and going easy on yard work this fall, the Audubon Society says.
“Messy is definitely good to provide food and shelter for birds during the cold winter months,” says Tod Winston, Audubon’s Plants for Birds program manager.
Here are the Audubon Society’s top 5 tips for helping them make it ’til spring:
Save the seeds. Some tidy gardeners might snip the stems of perennial flowers in the fall. But the seed heads of coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans, and other native wildflowers provide an excellent source of winter calories for birds.”
Source: Help Birds Survive the Winter by Skipping Fall Yard Work
“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.
AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES
Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”” (2009)2
Source: Scientific Consensus | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
Many observers seem baffled by Republican fealty to Donald Trump — the party’s willingness to back him on all fronts, even after severe defeats in the midterm elections. What kind of party would show such support for a leader who is not only evidently corrupt and seemingly in the pocket of foreign dictators, but also routinely denies facts and tries to criminalize anyone who points them out?
The answer is, the kind of the party that, long before Trump came on the scene, committed itself to denying the facts on climate change and criminalizing the scientists reporting those facts.
The G.O.P. wasn’t always an anti-environment, anti-science party. George H.W. Bush introduced the cap-and-trade program that largely controlled the problem of acid rain. As late as 2008, John McCain called for a similar program to limit emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
But McCain’s party was already well along in the process of becoming what it is today — a party that is not only completely dominated by climate deniers, but is hostile to science in general, that demonizes and tries to destroy scientists who challenge its dogma.”
By Steve Eder and Henry Fountain
Dec. 3, 2018
“FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine landscapes in the United States. But that may soon change as the Trump administration seeks to exploit an untapped trove of oil beneath its coastal plain.
Since Congress approved a measure last December to open the coastal plain to oil exploration, the Department of the Interior has been charging ahead with a plan to sell drilling leases as early as next year. Trucks weighing 90,000 pounds could begin rolling across the tundra even before then to conduct seismic tests that help pinpoint oil reserves.
The hurried approach has alarmed some government specialists and environmentalists, who say that risks to wildlife and damage to the tundra are not being taken seriously enough. And it comes as the Trump administration moves more broadly to exploit fossil fuels in Alaska and beyond, erasing restrictive policies that were designed to protect the environment and address global warming.
The New York Times examined how, in the space of about a year, the refuge’s coastal plain — known as the 1002 Area — went from off-limits to open for business. Here are six takeaways.”
By Henry Fountain and Steve Eder
Dec. 3, 2018
Andrew Derocher is a biologist at the University of Alberta who has researched polar bears for more than three decades. He is also a volunteer adviser to Polar Bears International, a conservation group.
He discussed the status of polar bears in the Arctic amid a warming climate, and the potential impact of oil and gas exploration. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. Worldwide in the Arctic, there are roughly 25,000 polar bears in what scientists consider to be 19 subpopulations. Over all, how are they doing?
A. People assume that because we’re concerned about polar bears from a conservation and management perspective, that all polar bears must be doing terribly. That’s not the case. Polar bears are doing just fine in many parts of their distribution, and with 19 different populations around the Arctic, we have 19 different scenarios playing out.
. . . . The interview ended:
What do scientists know about the impact of oil and gas exploration and production on polar bears?
One of the things that’s pretty cool about bears in general and polar bears in particular is each bear has an individual behavior pattern, or personality, if you want to call it that. Some bears just don’t seem to care — they are just not worried by people, not worried by snow machines or all-terrain vehicles or trucks going by. Yet others are extremely wary, don’t like it and will move away quickly from disturbance.
By and large, I think polar bears are fairly robust to disturbance, but once they have small cubs they tend to be quite timid.
One of the concerns we have is den abandonment. If you harass a bear around a den, there’s a greater likelihood that she will leave it with her cubs. And that is not a good thing. Young cubs are not that well developed and rely on the dens for protection. Moving them around is never a good idea.
We have to accept at least the basic premise that disturbance is not going to be beneficial for the bears. Then the question is, just how bad is it going to be? That’s difficult to say. But anything that adds on to the current impacts of sea ice loss is not going to be good for the population.”
Henry Fountain covers climate change, with a focus on the innovations that will be needed to overcome it. He is the author of “The Great Quake,” a book about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. @henryfountain
“An ‘Ocean Armageddon’
We are facing what the head of the United Nations Environment Programme called an “ocean Armageddon” in 2017. Every year the world produces 320 million tons of plastic—our packaging, eyeglasses, sneakers, Q-Tips, and cell phones among them. Of that, 90 percent is never recycled. If this continues, by 2050 the plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish.
At last, a global effort to combat the crisis is making headway. This October the European Parliament approved a sweeping ban of single-use plastics across the EU. Initiatives to reduce consumption are gaining momentum, from Kenya’s ban on plastic bags to California’s legislation against plastic straws. Two-hundred and fifty major brands including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, and Nestle have pledged to cut all plastic waste from their operations. And activists and innovators like The Ocean Cleanup are using technology to tackle the problem; its sea-cleaning contraption is already hard at work.
But the problem is greater than we can see. While plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it does break down through sunlight, wind, and the motion of the waves into tiny fragments, microplastics, now found as far as the snow of Antarctica. This doesn’t simply have an impact on sea life and coastal communities; there are implications for every single person on the planet. Especially women—which is where eXXpedition comes in.”
Source: The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic – Condé Nast Traveler
By The Editorial Board
Nov. 25, 2018, 195
“In August, a lawyer for Exxon Mobil told a state court in Manhattan that New York’s attorney general should either sue the company for misleading investors about the impact of climate change on its finances or drop the case. “They should put up or shut up,” the lawyer, Theodore Wells Jr., said of a tangled case that had dragged on for more than two years. The weary judge, Barry Ostrager, agreed. “This cannot go on interminably,” he said.
Put-up time has arrived. Late last month, Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a fraud lawsuit against the company. Exxon responded with a 38-page brief basically denying everything. And Judge Ostrager has set a trial date for October of next year.
Much can happen between now and then. But the judge’s decision to allow the case to proceed could provide a rare teaching moment that allows the public to see a powerful company grappling with the kinds of choices that all legacy fossil fuel companies will surely face in a carbon-constrained world.
The case is not a rehash of the copiously documented charge that Exxon had for years subsidized climate change denialist groups even as its own scientists were acutely aware of the dangers of global warming. That charge is partly what inspired Ms. Underwood’s predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, to begin investigating the company in the first place. But Exxon has since agreed that climate change is a problem, supported the Paris agreement and invested in cleaner fuels. Nor does the suit hold the company responsible for climate change, unlike several cases against the fossil fuel industry brought by New York City and other localities seeking damages from the rise of sea levels and other consequences of a warming world. Most of these suits have been thrown out of court.”
By Coral Davenport
Nov. 25, 2018, 472
“WASHINGTON — The Trump White House, which has defined itself by a willingness to dismiss scientific findings and propose its own facts, on Friday issued a scientific report that directly contradicts its own climate-change policies.
That sets the stage for a remarkable split-screen political reality in coming years. The administration is widely expected to discount or ignore the report’s detailed findings of the economic strain caused by climate change, even as it continues to cut environmental regulations, while opponents use it to mount legal attacks against the very administration that issued the report.
“This report will be used in court in significant ways,” said Richard L. Revesz, an expert in environmental law at New York University. “I can imagine a lawyer for the Trump administration being asked by a federal judge, ‘How can the federal government acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, and then set aside the rules that protect the American people from the problem?’ And they might squirm around coming up with an answer.”
The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment, which is required by Congress, is the most comprehensive scientific study to date detailing the effects of global warming on the United States economy, public health, coastlines and infrastructure. It describes in precise detail how the warming planet will wreak hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in coming decades.”