Last week, I rode a bus from Indianapolis to Chicago for one of eleven listening sessions on the carbon pollution standards being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. When we arrived in Chicago, I took to the stage to help rally the 500-person crowd (video here), calling on the EPA to put forward strong, just standards for the number one source of the pollution that is wreaking havoc with our climate - power plants. Let me tell you, it was inspiring. The volunteers who rode that bus with me, and the thousands more who rallied at listening sessions around the …
Bill de Blasio’s recent election as mayor of New York City has thrilled progressives across the country. But for environmentalists, the replacement of Mike Bloomberg -- a billionaire and former Republican -- with a liberal Democrat is, ironically, a cause for unease. Bloomberg began reorienting New York’s streetscape away from favoring cars to supporting every mode of transportation. De Blasio has a mixed record on complete streets and transportation policy. Despite his crunchy, Sandinista-supporting, Park Slope–dwelling image, de Blasio is fond of driving and sympathetic to the motorist’s perspective.
Complete-streets advocates are an increasingly well-organized and powerful force in New York politics. If de Blasio wants to win them over, he should take a look at a feature in the new issue of Reclaim, the magazine published by Transportation Alternatives, a leading New York advocacy group. TA called on some of its staffers to offer suggestions for the new mayor to enhance pedestrian and bike safety:
1.Enforce traffic safety laws. This may sound like something that must already be happening, but it isn’t. Cars in New York routinely break the speed limit, block the crosswalk, and commit other infractions that endanger pedestrians with impunity. Last year, 15,465 New York City pedestrians and cyclists were injured, and 155 killed, by drivers. As Streetsblog notes, “Historically, nearly half of motorists who take the life of a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.” Juan Martinez, TA’s general counsel and legislative director, writes, “A police commissioner that gets serious about data will prioritize serious enforcement against speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. It’s unconscionable that the NYPD issues four times as many tickets for window tint violations, which according to NYPD crash reports cause zero fatal or injurious crashes, as speeding, which is the number one cause of fatal crashes.”
The Climate Action Network International (http://www.climatenetwork.org/press-release/civil-society-announce-they-will-fast-solidarity-philippines-yeb-sano) has organized an international fast in solidarity with Yeb Sano, the lead climate negotiator for the Philippines at the 19th United Nations Climate Conference in Warsaw, Poland. He said in a speech there Monday, on the first day of the conference, that: “In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. …
Florida is a swing state in presidential elections -- as anyone who didn’t spend the year 2000 under a rock knows all too well. It has frequently elected Democrats as well as Republicans, often moderates from both parties, at the statewide level. And no state is more at risk from climate change. As an article in Sunday’s New York Times and a recent story in Rolling Stone have explained, South Florida’s low-lying barrier islands and wetlands could be fully submerged within a century. So it is an odd, ironic artifact of the current Tea Party ascendancy that Florida’s state legislature and governor’s mansion are in the control of right-wing Republicans who are hostile to environmental regulations.
But that could change next year. Gov. Rick Scott is up for reelection, and his newly announced opponent may prove to be an environmental savior for the state: former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now running as a Democrat.
In 2010, Crist ran for U.S. Senate instead of for reelection as governor. But when he found himself badly trailing Marco Rubio in primary polls, he quit the GOP to run as independent. He started moving leftward, taking steps like deleting references to his past opposition to abortion rights from his campaign website. He still lost the race. Last year, he switched his party registration to Democrat.
Crist built up an impressively green record during his term as governor, from 2007 to 2011. Florida environmental activists found themselves in the unusual position of having virtually no complaints with a Republican governor.
“I liked him personally and thought that he did a good job on the environment,” says Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. “My only complaint was that he stopped being governor.”
Of all the fanciful folklore espoused by climate deniers, among the strangest is cosmoclimatology. It posits that climate change is not the result of the blanket of carbon dioxide we've pumped into the atmosphere. Rather, the theory goes, global warming is caused when changes in the 11-year cycle of the sun cause the Earth to be bombarded by cosmic rays, which are high-energy particles, most of which come from deep in Outer Space.
"Evidence is accumulating that cosmic rays associated with fluctuations in the sun's electromagnetic field may be what drives global warming," explains the Texas-based Institute for Creation Research. "[W]hen the sun is more active -- more sunspots, a stronger magnetic field, larger auroras, stronger solar winds, etc. -- fewer cosmic rays strike the earth and cloud cover is reduced, resulting in warmer temperatures."
Nice theory. But actual scientists (i.e., those who believe in evolution and the like) have been rejecting it for years, and a flurry of new research is confirming that the theory is bunk.
The Bad News: This event is so clearly awesome that all the tickets have been sold out!
The Good News: Grist is giving away two pairs of tickets to two lucky readers! (That is, if you are one of two winners, you can take a +1 to the show with you. Air/train/bike fare not included.)
The Catch: Tell us a joke! Seriously, tweet it with the tag #StandUpForGrist or post in the comments below, and we’ll pick the ones that make us snort the most milk. Bonus points if you manage to make light of impending climate doom, but no subject matter is off limits (though we’ve probably heard the one about the interrupting cow before, so try to show us something new). One entry per jokester, plz.
Even if we don’t select your joke, you’re still a winner in our eyes: Grist will also hold a Happy Hour Extravaganza (prizes! good times for all!) before the show, at the Bell House’s Frontier Room from 6 to 8 p.m. This extracurricular event is open to the public — no ticket required. Crowd in and get your Grist on!
Yet another oil-hauling train has derailed and exploded, this one sending flaming cars loaded with North Dakota crude into Alabama wetlands.
The 90-car train derailed early Friday, causing flames to shoot 300 feet into the air. No injuries were reported. One family living in the marshy area was evacuated from their home following the accident. The L.A. Times has the details:
A train that derailed and exploded in rural Alabama was hauling 2.7 million gallons of crude oil, according to officials.
The 90-car train was crossing a timber trestle above a wetland near Aliceville late Thursday night when approximately 25 rail cars and two locomotives derailed, spilling crude oil into the surrounding wetlands and igniting a fire that was still burning Saturday.
Climate deniers like to point to the so-called global warming "hiatus" as evidence that humans aren't changing the climate. But according to a new study, exactly the opposite is true: The recent slowdown in global temperature increases is partially the result of one of the few successful international crackdowns on greenhouse gases.
Back in 1988, more than 40 countries, including the U.S., signed the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase out the use of ozone-depleting gases like chlorofluorocarbons (Today, the Protocol has nearly 200 signatories). According to the EPA, CFC emissions are down 90 percent since the Protocol, a drop that the agency calls "one of the largest reductions to date in global greenhouse gas emissions." That's a blessing for the ozone layer, but also for the climate. CFCs are a potent heat-trapping gas, and a new analysis published Sunday in Nature Geoscience finds that slashing them has been a major driver of the much-discussed slowdown in global warming.
Without the Protocol, environmental economist Francisco Estrada of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México reports, global temperatures today would be about a 10th of a degree Celsius higher than they are. That's roughly an eighth of the total warming documented since 1880.
Estrada and his coauthors compared global temperature and greenhouse gas emissions records over the last century and found that breaks in the steady upward march of both coincided closely. At times when emissions leveled off or dropped, like during the Great Depression, the trend was mirrored in temperatures; likewise for when emissions climbed.
“A lot of the utilities don’t totally understand this new paradigm that’s coming.” David Blittersdorf of AllEarth Renewables has been working to advance renewable energy in Vermont for years, and was instrumental in getting the state’s standard offer program (a feed-in tariff) passed in 2009. He’s adamant that the state should accelerate its standard offer in order to meet its ambitious 2050 goal of getting 90% of its energy from renewable sources. But some of the state’s utilities have balked and others don’t seem to grasp the pace that’s needed to reach the state’s targets. Podcast (Local Energy Rules): Play …
Lakes of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, in northeast Canada, are showing evidence of abrupt change in one of the last Arctic regions of the world to have experienced global warming, according to Canadian research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. The research team consisting of Kathleen Rühland, John Smol, and Neal Michelutti from Queen’s University Ontario, Andrew Paterson of Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, and Bill Keller from the Laurentian University Ontario, retrieved sediment cores from lakes around the western shoreline of Hudson Bay and looked for changes in the microscopic algae that settle at the …