The Climate Post: Will the "dead" climate bill become a federal renewable energy standard?
It’s over: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has conceded the primary race to her opponent, Joe Miller. Murkowski and three other Republicans will be leaving the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which means new leadership and four open seats for the group tasked with dealing with just about everything readers of The Climate Post care about.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he might have two Republicans on board for a lame-duck bill that would give the U.S. a Federal Renewable Energy Standard requiring utilities to “provide 15 percent of their power from renewables by 2021, although about a fourth of the requirement could be met with energy-efficiency programs.”
Greens recovering from a Fight Club-level whupping: It’s as much opinion as news, but The Washington Post paints a portrait of beaten-down, post-climate bill environmentalists trying to regroup by staging acts of cathartic street theater. Grist’s David Roberts asks: “How bad are the next few years going to suck?“
Court tells climate scientist to Mann up: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been temporarily thwarted in his quest to secure documents on the science of climate change from former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann. Undaunted, Cuccinelli pledged not to back down.
Administration to enviros: “We like you, just not in that way”: Many were left scratching their heads when the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would have allowed plaintiffs to sue emitters of greenhouse gasses under common-law nuisance claims.
These actions might make more sense in light of the administration’s current efforts to mollify greenhouse gas emitters in industry lest their allies on the hill take back whatever power the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has left to regulate greenhouse gases: “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said over the weekend upcoming climate regulations are modest in scope, comments that come amid Capitol Hill efforts to scuttle the rules.”
As if on cue, environmentalist Bill McKibben declared Nixon was better for the environment than Obama.
Critical report did not land with a thud: Climate scientists think the new report suggesting a revamp of the IPCC is full of helpful suggestions, and the world’s leading science journal cast it in terms of adaptation and survival for the decades-old body.
“Devastating climate shock needed to spur climate change policy” is kind of already here: An editorial in The New York Times cast resistance to action on climate change in terms of its perceived threat to American identity and hypothesized natural disasters might change that.
The next report from the IPCC will consider what happens if governments don’t sign on for or follow through with emissions reductions. Lawyers are already acting on related data, and are exploring the implications of nascent efforts to statistically assign blame to global warming for natural disasters already in progress.
The melting of Mont Blanc, one of Europe’s iconic glaciers, has engineers racing to avert an explosive flooding of the valley below. Acidifying oceans spell a marine biological “meltdown” by the end of the century.
The coffee bean is threatened by warming, retreat of glaciers in Asia will decrease the water supply of billions, and China’s crop yields are projected to decline in the next few years because of warming-related water shortages. In addition, flooding in Niger is devastating a people already menaced by a food crisis, El Niños leading to extreme weather are growing stronger, and food prices in Russia are soaring after a drought and fires with direct costs between $7 and 300 billion.
A new kind of desertification is afflicting the planet. “Ocean desertification” happens when warmer waters lead to decreased biological productivity in the world’s tropical marine ecosystems.
On the other hand, The Economist argues Brazil has a model for how to feed the denizens of a warmer, more crowded planet, New York had its hottest summer ever but nothing blew up or was looted, and Scientific American reviews a recent paper that asks “If the world is going to hell, why are humans doing so well?“
The fossil fuel lending crisis: Banks increasingly don’t want to fund environmentally controversial activities such as mountaintop-removal mining and palm oil. To transition to renewables, China must raise the price of coal without stalling its economy. Industry groups still back the Obama administration’s planned $1 billion clean-coal effort.
The renewables award tour: France wants $13 billion for 3,000 megawatts of wind farms and India approved 1,000 megawatts of solar. Angela Merkel wants to keep Germany’s nuclear power plants online for another 15 years, and the cost of Bulgaria’s nuclear plant has soared to 9 billion euro from 4 billion in 2007.
In shades of what’s happened to the solar panel industry, a supply glut means a price war in rechargeable batteries for cars.
In conclusion: tree sitting above the Arctic Circle: It used to be all you had to do was drive into the woods and chain yourself to a redwood, but that’s just not where the action is anymore if you’re a committed environmentalist. At the intersection of a warming Arctic, offshore drilling, Greenland’s eventual autonomy from Denmark, prospecting for remote oil in the face of peak fossil fuels and, well, Greenpeace, a handful of activists are braving what could be 50 mph winds to occupy the underside of a drilling platform in the storm-tossed coastal waters of Greenland.
The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.