Photo: World Economic ForumAn email has linked Fox News to deliberately casting doubt on climate change, but their parent company — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp — seems to take climate change very seriously. News Corp announced it is now carbon neutral, claiming it is no longer contributing to global warming.
It’s no small feat for the huge company, which also owns the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. On the site for the company’s Global Energy Initiative, Murdoch never utters the words “climate change” or “global warming,” but he says: “we have become carbon neutral across all of our global operations and we are the first company of our kind to do so.” Their next goal: cutting their absolute emissions by 15 percent by 2015.
One of News Corp’s energy-saving measures was lighting retrofits — but one Republican representative thinks this is a bad move. Michele Bachmann, representing Minnesota in the U.S. House, introduced (again) her “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” meant to block the mandated phase-out of incandescent bulbs. Bachmann argues the mercury in the bulbs is harmful to the environment, and that it’s unproven whether low-energy bulbs actually cut power use.
Terminator urges revolution: Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered some memorable lines at the meeting of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy. The former on-screen action hero called for an end to debates over climate science, and a focus on the benefits of clean energy technologies. Like Tunisia’s revolutionaries, he called for Americans to “overturn the old energy order.”
Also at the meeting, the secretary of the Navy announced his branch of the armed forces plans to partner with ARPA-E on energy storage and electrical systems for ships, part of the “Great Green Fleet” effort to get half the Navy’s energy, by 2020, from sources other than fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, debates over climate science grind on — especially in Tennessee. The state’s House of Representatives debated a bill that would push teachers to “teach the controversy” on global warming, as well as on “biological evolution” and “human cloning.” Mother Jones reports that over the past few years, creationists and global warming deniers have been joining forces.
Groundbreaking with fracking: Meanwhile, efforts to produce more fossil fuels have been earth-shattering, literally. In the past few years, it’s become far more common to use an old method known as hydrofracturing, or “fracking,” in which fluid is forced into wells, which then opens up cracks underground to release more oil or natural gas. But this is causing a lot of side effects, with apparent links to a swarm of earthquakes in Arkansas, including their strongest in 35 years. The wastewater from fracking can also pick up carcinogens and radioactivity naturally occurring down deep, yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to crack down on the dumping of wastes into rivers, The New York Times reports. Even when the waste water is being recycled, health and environmental risks remain.
Protests in Texas and Detroit against a proposed pipeline could stymie another fossil fuel project. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry “dilbit” — diluted bitumen, a thick, sticky form of oil mined from Canada’s tar sands –
south to the Gulf coast near Houston, crossing a dozen states. A report earlier this month, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, warned pipelines carrying dilbit are far more likely to leak, which has worried residents in the pipeline’s proposed path.
One key project aimed at cleaning up fossil fuels has avoided cries of “not in my backyard,” at least for now. The FutureGen project — aimed at capturing carbon dioxide from a coal power plant’s exhaust and storing it underground, and which has had its federal funding flicker on and off — has now found a home for its CO2 underneath Morgan County, Ill.
With oil prices surging another $5 a barrel higher — in the “danger zone” for the global economy, according to Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist — renewables are becoming more competitive. However, this isn’t always in the way treehuggers would hope, as a new project in California illustrates. There, the sun’s energy will be put to use to boil water, and the steam will pumped underground to loosen up thick, heavy oil that otherwise would remain stuck underground.
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.