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The Talk of the Drown

Polar bears drowning as Alaska sea ice disappears OK, we're trying to keep a positive outlook here, but ... drowning polar bears? Seriously? And just when therapy was starting to work. In September 2004 (the year the polar ice cap receded a record 160 miles from Alaska's north coast), federal researchers doing routine aerial surveys counted 10 bears swimming in the open ocean as far as 60 miles off Alaska's shore -- where they'd spotted perhaps one bear every two years in the past. They later found four dead bears floating in the vicinity, a few days after a big …

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Polar bears drowning

I thought this new Greenpeace commercial was kind of a cutesy joke. But no: Turns out polar bears really are drowning. (Yeah, it's subscription only, so there's an excerpt below the fold.) Scientists for the first time have documented multiple deaths of polar bears off Alaska, where they likely drowned after swimming long distances in the ocean amid the melting of the Arctic ice shelf. ... In a quarter-century of aerial surveys of the Alaskan coastline before 2004, researchers from the U.S. Minerals Management Service said they typically spotted a lone polar bear swimming in the ocean far from ice …

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Solar Survivor

California utility commission recharges Governator's solar energy plan California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) Million Solar Roofs initiative -- a casualty of partisan squabbling in the California legislature's last session -- has been partially resurrected. On Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission responded to a groundswell of public support with a $3.2 billion plan to increase the state's total solar output from about 100 megawatts now to 3,000 megawatts by 2017, eliminating the need for six natural-gas-fired power plants. State officials say it would be the largest solar initiative in the country, possibly the world. Residential energy bills would go up …

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Gas prices

It's an open question how much gasoline prices affect gasoline consumption. But apparently gas prices are pretty tightly correlated with something else. Click to find out what. (Via Tapped)

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Off Season

Climate change is messing with the seasons in a Rocky Mountain forest Since 1968, researchers have gathered air samples from near the summit of Colorado's Niwot Ridge in the Rocky Mountains, and tracked carbon dioxide levels in the conifer forest below. They've amassed the world's third-longest record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and that record provides a troubling glimpse of how forests respond to a warming world. The biological start of spring in the Niwot forest was about 10.5 days earlier in 2002 than it was in 1980, and cool fall temperatures are coming later. "It's shocking," said researcher Pieter Tans. …

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Why the Montreal climate summit was too painful to watch

I've been to climate meetings in locales that stretch from Kyoto to The Hague, Mexico City to the Maldives. It would have been awfully easy to get in the old hybrid and drive two hours north to Montreal for the big climate-change confab that wrapped up this weekend -- if nothing else, it's a city I love deeply. But I couldn't bring myself to do it in the end. I knew it was going to be too painful to watch. Do U.S. see what I see? Photo: iStockphoto. Too painful because, as it has since the issue first emerged, the …

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All This Aggravation Ain’t Satisfactionin’ Us

Montreal summit wraps up with agreement to ... have more summits The U.N. climate talks in Montreal ended this weekend with plenty of drama but little progress. The big news, such as it is, is an agreement by a coalition of some 150 nations to convene new talks to generate a set of binding greenhouse-gas emissions caps for 2012 when Kyoto expires. The U.S. balked at joining those talks, but it did grudgingly agree to join a coalition of nearly 200 countries in an "open and nonbinding" dialogue. Even that modest commitment almost got scuttled: When it became clear on …

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Gaghan’s Syriana not at all the feel-good film of the year

Syriana, written and directed by Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, is a brave and daunting piece of filmmaking. It plunges without apology into hot-button territory few U.S. news outlets, much less Hollywood productions, have dared explore, and does very little to smooth the rough edges for a moviegoing audience accustomed to frictionless entertainment. In a pop-culture landscape dominated by the aesthetics of adolescents, it is the rare film for adults. The least explosive scene in Gaghan's new movie. Photo: Warner Bros./Glen Wilson.   When I first heard about the "oil movie," I figured it would be about oil the same way …

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Let’s Take This Slow on the Road

Campaign by right-wing U.S. group aims to derail E.U. climate policy American lobbyist Chris Horner is trying to convince major European companies to join a campaign against the Kyoto Protocol and any future such strategies to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases -- but he's not making much headway. Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the right-wing Washington think tank known for arguing against the scientific consensus on global warming -- and getting lots of funding from ExxonMobil. He's been talking to Ford Europe, German mega-utility RWE, and other E.U. firms in hopes of forming a coalition …

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Catch Him if You Can

Leonardo DiCaprio to produce documentary about global warming Eco-minded actor Leonardo DiCaprio -- who tools around L.A. in a Prius and has been outspoken about issues like worldwide access to potable water -- is now bringing a tree-hugging message to film. According to spokesdude Ken "Walkin' on" Sunshine (we made that middle part up), DiCaprio has started work on 11th Hour, a full-length documentary about global warming. The multi-talented DiCaprio will produce, co-write, and narrate the film, scheduled to hit the big screen in fall 2006. "Global warming is not only the No. 1 environmental challenge we face today, but …

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