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National efforts to cut GHG emissions will suffer

Everyone is justifiably excited about the good news out of California, but a much more representative microcosm of the climate debate can be found in the great state of Texas. Texas leads the nation in GHG emissions -- it spews more than Canada or the U.K. It has no plan for reducing those emissions. It has rejected legislative efforts to reduce them for years. In essence, Governor Rick Perry has said that he won't do anything until the feds do, which we all know is never. Now it seems Texas is set to dramatically increase its emissions. The state may …

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Not Management Material

BLM slacks on environmental monitoring in Wyoming For the past six years, the Bureau of Land Management has been slacking on its commitment to assess and limit the impact of natural-gas drilling on wilderness in western Wyoming, says, um, the Bureau of Land Management. A leaked internal assessment for the BLM's Pinedale, Wyo., field office declares that there is often "no evaluation, analysis, or compiling" of data concerning environmental harm to the area. Had it been doing its job, the BLM might have noticed that drilling activity has upped area nitrous oxide levels and reduced deer and sage grouse populations. …

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They Should Eat Their Spinach

Iron-deficient phytoplankton don't absorb as much CO2, study finds Phytoplankton's ability to absorb carbon dioxide is hindered by a lack of iron in their diet, according to a study in Nature. Climate models have estimated that phytoplankton in the world's oceans have absorbed about 55 billion tons of carbon dioxide, but the new research suggests that anemic Pacific Ocean phytoplankton have sequestered up to 2.2 billion tons less than previously estimated. While the discovery will not completely throw off climate predictions, "In the tropical Pacific that change is a significant amount," says lead author Michael Behrenfeld. Dust blown in from …

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Bill McKibben sends dispatches from a global-warming march

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, published in 1989, the first book for a general audience on climate change. A scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, his forthcoming book is titled Deep Economy. He's participating in a five-day walk calling for action to fight global warming -- From the Road Less Traveled: Vermonters Walking Toward a Clean Energy Future. Wednesday, 30 Aug 2006 MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Why would anyone spend their Labor Day weekend wandering the shoulder of a highway? It's possible no one will -- but if they do, it may signal the next wave in the global-warming …

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The Visible Hand of the Market

BP under investigation for possible manipulation of oil and gasoline markets Petro-behemoth BP is being investigated by two U.S. agencies for possible manipulation of crude-oil and unleaded-gasoline markets. (These are, of course, in addition to ongoing investigations of BP over a Texas refinery explosion, an Alaska pipeline spill, and alleged manipulation of the U.S. propane market.) The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has subpoenaed BP in the oil-market probe, which concerns possible evildoing in 2003 and 2004 in the over-the-counter market (trades conducted out of sight of regulators, by phone or electronically, in products not listed on exchanges). The gasoline inquiry, …

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Reality Bites

U.S. automakers acknowledging that gas prices are likely to stay high Expect gasoline prices to stay between $3 and $4 a gallon for the rest of the decade, says ... no, not some fearmongering environmentalist or peak-oil nut, but Chrysler CEO Thomas LaSorda. In fact, all of Detroit's Big Three automakers have resigned themselves to current gas prices and are revamping their business models accordingly. "We are looking at it as if it's going to be much higher, rather than hoping it comes down," LaSorda said this week. Ford's chief sales analyst agreed, but declined to cite a price range, …

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Lebanon Sequitur

Lebanese oil spill continues to spread Six weeks after Israel bombed a Lebanese power plant, spilling 10,000 to 15,000 tons of heavy fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea, the disaster continues to be disastrous. The slick has traveled an estimated 90 miles north, affecting every one of Lebanon's approximately 200 beaches, and may reach Syria and Turkey. Lebanon's coastline has traded in throngs of tourists for beach-cleanup volunteers; in Beirut, 18 miles from the original site of the spill, they gaze upon black sand and yellowish-green water, breathe in the scent of petroleum, and look in vain for any sign …

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The Big Seep

Global warming could lead to release of more methane from seafloor A warming ocean could release more of the potent greenhouse gas methane in a vicious cycle that leads to more warming, says a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Petroleum and methane seep consistently from small cracks in the seafloor, but a study of ocean sediments near Santa Barbara, Calif., found that during the last two major warming periods, around 11,000 and 15,000 years ago, three times more oil and methane were released than average. The researchers hypothesize that undersea methane ice melt could …

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April Showers Bring April Flowers

Spring is springing earlier in Europe, study finds Across Europe, spring is arriving an average of six to eight days earlier than it did 30 years ago, according to new research published in the journal Global Change Biology. Scientists studied 125,000 sets of observations of 542 plant and 19 animal species in 21 European countries, and found that nearly 80 percent of all leafing, flowering, and fruiting is now happening earlier in the year. "Not only do we clearly demonstrate change in the timing of the seasons, but that change is much stronger in countries that have experienced more warming," …

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The Definition of Insanity

Bush administration will open 8 million Alaskan acres to oil drilling As only makes sense following a disaster in northern Alaska involving oil spills and corroded pipelines, the Bush administration next month plans to open 8 million northwestern Alaska acres to oil and natural gas development. The area, in the National Petroleum Reserve, contains "a significant amount of oil that will help decrease our dependence on imported oil," says Julia Dougan of the Bureau of Land Management, by which she meant, "dude, we're jonesing." Included are 373,000 acres near wetland-rich Teshekpuk Lake, which is also hunting grounds for native Inupiat …

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