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Candy Crowley’s weird dismissal of climate change

Reuters/Win McNamee/Pool

Here's debate moderator Candy Crowley explaining afterward how she decided which questions to ask and which to skip:

I had that question for all of you climate change people. We just, you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy.

"All of you climate change people." I don't want to read too much into this. But I very much want to read a little into it. So I will.

When I hear “all of you climate change people,” I expect to hear this coming right after it: “Or whatever kids are into these days.” I see a dismissive wave of the hand, a little smile acknowledging that the speaker is treading into terrain that isn’t her own but that she recognizes as popular.


More Americans are biking to work — but not enough of them are women

More than three-quarters of a million Americans are regularly biking to work, according to new Census data. This map shows cycle commuting hotspots.

Davis, Calif., tops the charts with 16.6 percent of the city's workforce peddling to punch the clock. West Coast cities, especially dense college towns with little public transit in California, Colorado, and Oregon, round out the top. But large metro areas, from Seattle to New York City, saw the biggest increases in cyclers since 2006. (Meanwhile, the East Coast and South are totally kicking ass on walking to work.)

Overall, there's been a 47 percent increase in bike commuting since 2000.

From the Governing blog, which compiled and visualized the data:

Read more: Cities, Living


Dodgers pitcher sues pipeline company to protect endangered cats

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett is known for a few things: his goofy soul patch, the necklaces he often wears, his ability to beat the Yankees regardless of the league he plays in. One thing he has not been known for, until now: his love of ocelots.

This is an ocelot.

The ocelot is a small, endangered member of the leopard family that lives primarily in Central and South America, but there are regions of southern Texas where the animals can still be found -- including on a ranch Beckett owns in La Salle County. Until recently, a section of the ranch was home to ocelot habitat. Now, that section is home to a pipeline constructed by a fracking company. With time on his hands (given the Dodgers' failure to make the post-season) and a competitive spirit, Beckett is suing.

From MySanAntonio:

According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Laredo, Eagle Ford Midstream and its parent company Midstream, told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with protecting the endangered species, there was no ocelot habitat on Beckett's 7,000 acre South Texas ranch.

The pipeline company then continued with survey work for constructing the pipeline despite ranch representatives giving it an alternative route and letting it know it would be sued in federal court if it continued. …

The notice of intent to sue stated that “multiple big cat tracks” were located and photographed as recently as June, and Beckett observed ocelots on his property as recently as November.


Solyndra sues Chinese competitors for $1.5 billion

When Solyndra declared bankruptcy last year, the company identified a few reasons why the action was necessary: oversupply, regulatory issues, problems raising capital. But the main culprit, it said, was China, which it argued had undercut $1.2 billion in contracts.

Last week, the company filed a lawsuit against three U.S.-based, Chinese-owned solar companies. From the Christian Science Monitor:

The lawsuit is against Suntech, Trina Solar Ltd, and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., and is asking for a sum of $1.5 billion in compensation.

Solyndra claim that the Chinese trio coordinated their pricing strategies to drop them 75% in four years. They used predatory pricing and price fixing to drive out the competition in the US.

Last year US solar manufacturers complained about the solar panels being imported from China and asked for protection from the low prices. This eventually led to a trade dispute between the two countries, culminating in high import taxes being levied against Chinese solar panels.

In their case against the three companies Solyndra remarked that they had come to the US to destroy US solar manufacturers, and had used the stock market to raise the capital needed to achieve that goal.


Scientists increasingly linking climate change to weather phenomena

Somewhere, someone is sitting in a dimly lit room, looking anxiously at a calendar and thinking, "Which of the last 20 days of this campaign will be the one in which the candidates address climate change?" Bad news, straw man. It ain't going to happen.

Part of the reason it's not going to happen is that voters don't prioritize the issue. Another large part is that climate scientists aren't usually in the business of making climate science a political issue. Because they're rigorous in ascribing causation, climate scientists are loathe to point to extreme weather events and say, "This is what climate change looks like." And since they won't do that, it makes it much easier for opponents of taking action to suggest that climate change is not a real thing.

You will be unsurprised to learn that James Hansen was one of the scientists.

Which is why it's good news that scientists are starting to tie specific events to the effects of climate change. From the Los Angeles Times:

In a break with the mainstream scientific consensus, a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there have been enough episodes of drought and intense heat in the last 10 years to establish a statistical pattern of extreme weather due to global warming.

One of those scientists is NASA climatologist James Hansen. In a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he noted that dramatic events like droughts and heat waves affected just 1% of Earth's surface between 1950 and 1980; in the last 30 years, that figure has jumped to 10%. …

Hansen isn't the only one who suspects that the signature of climate change can be seen in recent weather trends.

Around the world, "the incidence of drought is consistent with what the climate models are predicting," said John Seinfeld, an atmospheric researcher at Caltech. "It certainly doesn't appear to be out of line to conclude that this last summer could be statistically attributed to global warming."


Court kicks anti-phone-book laws to the curb where you’re totally going to stub your toe on them

They pile up outside your building. They fill up city recycling centers. They melt in the rain, or they fester inside that weird thin plastic bag. They're phone books, and you don't want 'em? Well too bad.


In a unanimous decision Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 2010 Seattle law that would charge phone book companies fees to deliver within city limits, plus extra charges for books that went in the trash. The court ruled that phone books, like other printed media, are protected by the First Amendment.

From The Seattle Times:

Read more: Cities, Living, Politics


Keystone blockaders get their hands dirty in biggest protest yet

Blockaders intent on shutting down construction of the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline ramped up their efforts Monday with their biggest protest yet.

Tar Sands Blockade

The fight has been heating up for weeks (like, literally, with sheriffs using pepper spray and Tasers on some protesters). On Monday, more than 50 activists convened on TransCanada's right-of-way and commenced a cat-and-mouse game with sheriffs. According to blockaders, 10 people were arrested. The video they produced on the day's actions is intense even if you mute the clangy anarcho drum-circle soundtrack.


See the sponsored ad the coal industry is running on Facebook

A friend of mine was a bit surprised by a sponsored post that appeared in her Facebook timeline this morning.

That image linked here. (I do not recommend reading the comments you'll find there.) It was followed by this text:

There is no debating coal’s abundance & affordability.

SHARE this post and stand with coal:

Now here's a quiz to see if you've been paying attention for the past few months: Can you guess the state in which my friend lives?


A tropical disease takes hold in a warming Alaska

We have mentioned previously the various diseases that climate change will likely make more robust or more common, or more robust and more common.

A bird flies over the Alaskan tundra.

It's not only humans who need to worry. A version of avian malaria has begun to infect birds in an unlikely place: Alaska.

Because mosquitoes transmit the disease, it tends to reside in warmer and wetter parts of the world, areas that are hospitable to these insects. However, migratory birds can carry versions of the Plasmodium parasite, which causes the disease, to new locales, creating test situations that could model how human malaria may behave under similar conditions.

What the scientists have found is that the parasite that infects migratory birds is now infecting local birds. Because the Arctic is the fastest-warming area in the world, Alaska amounts to a vast test tube that helps scientists see the health impacts of rapid change. ...

With help from the Alaska Bird Observatory and the Bureau of Land Management, the researchers captured birds with mist nets and collected blood samples before letting the birds fly away. They tested birds at three locations and found malaria parasites as far north as Fairbanks, at a latitude of 64 degrees north. Out of 676 sampled birds, 7.2 percent were infected with one of seven varieties of Plasmodium.

Tropical diseases in Alaska! Great.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Here’s Romney’s latest attack on green investment: A123 Systems

During tonight's second presidential debate, you will hear mention of A123. There's no question of that; Mitt Romney has already started working it into his regular routine. In keeping with our motto ("Post things on the web"), Gristmill is here to explain what, exactly, an "A123" is.

Showing off A123 batteries at UC Davis.

A123 Systems is (was?) a manufacturer of "advanced batteries," energy storage systems primarily used in electric cars. Today, after at least one high-profile attempt to raise revenue, the company filed for bankruptcy. According to the Department of Energy, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls will purchase two of A123's manufacturing facilities and fund the company during its bankruptcy transition.

Why does the Department of Energy care? Because A123 was one of the department's investments in bolstering the domestic advanced-battery manufacturing sector.