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News articles on environmental politics
Mongabay.com news articles on environmental politics in blog format. Updated regularly.
(08/11/2007) NASA corrected an error on its U.S. air temperature data after a blogger, Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, discovered a discrepancy for the years 2000-2006. The revised figures show that 1934, not 1998, was America's hottest year on record. The change has little affect on global temperature records and the average temperatures for 2001-2006 (at 0.66 C) is still warmer than 1930-1934 (0.63 C) in the United States.
European heat waves double in length since 1880
(08/11/2007) The most accurate measures of European daily temperatures ever indicate that the length of heat waves on the continent has doubled and the frequency of extremely hot days has nearly tripled in the past century. The new data shows that many previous assessments of daily summer temperature change underestimated heat wave events in western Europe by approximately 30 percent.
Fines on bycatch could help make conservation groups, industry accountable
(07/18/2007) Assessing fines on illegal bycatch could help clean up the fishing industry, reports a new study published in the August issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Corn ethanol is not the solution to energy independence
(07/18/2007) A new report claims that corn ethanol will not significantly offset U.S. fossil fuel consumption without "unacceptable" environmental and economic consequences.
Florida to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050
(07/15/2007) Florida plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 according to Charlie Crist, Florida's Republican state governor. Due to its low elevation and hurricane risk, global warming may pose the biggest risk to Florida of any U.S. state.
US says Brazilian ethanol doesn't increase food prices, destroy Amazon rainforest
(07/13/2007) Brazil's surging ethanol production does not put the Amazon rainforest at risk and is not fueling higher food prices, claimed a U.S. energy official visiting Brazil.
How to save the world's oceans from overfishing
(07/08/2007) Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.
Fuel efficiency boost wins unanimous Senate support
(06/22/2007) The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to raise fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks as part of the new energy bill.
Nobel prize winner debates future of nuclear power
(06/07/2007) Two renowned energy experts sparred in a debate over nuclear energy Wednesday afternoon at Stanford University. Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank, argued that energy efficiency and alternative energy sources will send nuclear power the way of the dinosaurs in the near future. Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, said that nuclear would play an important part of the future energy portfolio needed to cut carbon emissions to fight global warming.
Japan and Iceland defeated on pro-whaling initiative
(06/07/2007) Japan and Iceland failed in their latest attempts to lift regulations protecting whales, reports the Whale and Dolphin conservation Society. Measures introduced at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in the Hague were defeated 55 (against) to 28 (for) with 13 abstentions Thursday.
U.S. refuses to talk global warming cuts at G8 summit
(06/06/2007) President Bush said he opposed setting firm targets for greenhouse gas cuts at a G8 summit but said that his proposal to fight climate change would not undermine U.N. efforts, as critics have claimed.
China Unveils Global Warming Initiative
(06/05/2007) Scientists documented 467 species, including 24 species believed new to science, during a rainforest survey in eastern Suriname, South America. The expedition, led by conservation International (CI), was sponsored by two mining companies, BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), hoping to mine the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. conservation International said the Rapid Assessment Survey (RAP) will help "give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development," according to a statement from the organization.
Bush unveils global warming strategy
(05/31/2007) Thursday, President Bush outlined his proposal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, calling for a series of meetings between the world's largest polluters to establish a global target for emissions reduction. The Associated Press reported that environmentalists quickly dismissed the plan as a "do-nothing" approach, while other critics said the plan comes too late to restore the administration's credibility after years of dragging its feet and outright rejecting action on global warming.
U.S. responsible for 44% of global warming bill-Oxfam
(05/29/2007) The U.S.is responsible for 44% of the annual $50 billion needed to fight global warming said aid agency Oxfam as expectations mount that the United States will reject stiff targets and timetables for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. and other G8 nations are meeting next week in Germany to discuss climate change.
Uganda abandons rainforest logging for palm oil
(05/27/2007) The Ugandan government abandoned plans to log thousands of hectares of rainforest on Bugala island in Lake Victoria for a palm oil plantation, Reuters reported Saturday.
Extortion or global warming mitigation?
(05/24/2007) Marketwatch reported more details on Ecuador's proposal to forgo development of Amazonian oil fields in exchange for payments from industrialized nations. Last month Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that if the South American country is compensated with half of the forecasted lost revenues, it will not exploit oil in Yasuni National Park, setting aside the area for wildlife and indigenous people. Correa said the cost would be about $350 million per year.
NASA issues guide on global warming
(05/22/2007) NASA issued a guide to global warming on its Earth Observatory web site, possibly marking a shift for the agency, which in recent years has often skirted use of the term "global warming", famously censoring comments on the subject by James E. Hansen, the director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Improving energy efficiency will require overcoming market distortions
(05/20/2007) In a new study, McKinsey&Company, one the world's most respected management consulting firms, reports that the world should be able to cut energy demand growth by half over the next 15 years without compromising economic growth. However it says that market forces along will not drive the transition--targeted policies will be needed to overcome present market failures and policy distortions.
Ancient Amazonian technology could save the world
(05/17/2007) Terra preta, the ancient charcoal-based soil used by ancient Amazonians to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rainforest, is getting serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and meet domestic energy demand, reports an article in Scientific American.
Calpine may benefit from global warming limits
(05/16/2007) Power generator Calpine will be well-positioned when the regularlory environment for carbon dioxide emissions shifts and federal caps are introduced, reports the Wall Street Journal.
California sues Bush administration over fuel standards
(05/14/2007) Monday California sued the Bush administration for "illegally adopting 'dangerously misguided' gas mileage rules." In a lawsuit backed by 11 states, the suit alleges that the Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new mileage standards violate federal law by ignoring both the environment environmental impact on oil use and the country's growing dependence on imported oil.
Peatlands store 100 years of CO2 emissions
(05/08/2007) The UN Convention on Climate Change is putting global climate at risk by ignoring carbon dioxide emissions from the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia, charged Wetlands International, a Dutch environmental group that has highlighted the climate impact of land-use change in southeast Asia.
Reps Lott and Stevens oppose fuel efficiency bill
(05/08/2007) Tuesday the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill that would raise the passenger fleet automobile fuel standard to an average 35 miles per gallon by 2020, reports Reuters.
Better forest policies would reduce illegal logging in the Amazon
(05/06/2007) Brazil could improve sustainable forest management, reduce illegal logging, and perhaps cuts deforestation by introducing coherent policies for timber operations in the Amazon rainforest argues a new paper published in Frontiers in Ecology. However, successful implementation of sustainable timber production will require overcoming significant biological and political hurdles, suggest the authors.
Cost of stabilizing climate 0.1% per year
(05/04/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its long awaiting installment on climate change mitigation, arguing that the costs of offsetting global warming will be much lower than some claim. The IPCC estimates that emissions can be reduced rapidly using existing technology at a cost of 3 percent of GDP, or 0.12 percent per year over the next 25 years, though new technologies could further reduce this cost. While the projections are encouraging, they may be conservative. Some analysts, including the well-respected Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, have calculated that emissions targets that would stabilize the climate could be achieved at no net cost and possibly even a profit. Even McKinsey & Company, a leading management consulting firm, agrees, putting the net cost of reducing emissions by 46 percent at zero.
Bush seeks funding cuts for Earth monitoring satellites
(05/02/2007) The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) warned that environmental satellites responsible for monitoring Earth are endangered due to budget cuts and shifts in spending towards military and human space flight programs.
Legal ruling may put endangered species at greater risk
(05/02/2007) In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the House Committee on Natural Resources, they warn that the new definition--spelled out in a legal opinion from the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior in March--will substantially weaken the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
'Reign of terror' over Fish and Wildlife Service ends with resignation
(05/01/2007) Julie A. MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary at the Interior Department who riled environmentalists by seeking to gut the endangered species act, has resigned. The resignation comes a month after MacDonald was rebuked for illegally distributing internal agency documents to industry lobbyists.
U.S. and China fight plan to slow global warming
(04/30/2007) Claiming that costs of fighting global warming will be higher than consensus estimates, China and the United States are fighting plans to slow climate change, according to the Associated Press (AP). The countries also say the impacts of climate change will not be as severe as projected and want to raise the emissions cap of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 430 parts per million (ppm) proposed by the European Union to 445 ppm. Current CO2 levels stand around 381 ppm.
Brazil splits environmental agency to fast-track development projects
(04/25/2007) Brazil will divide its environmental protection agency IBAMA into two separate entities reports Reuters. The move is expected to speed development projects in the Amazon rainforest.
Biodiesel may worsen global warming relative to petroleum diesel
(04/23/2007) Biodiesel made from rapeseed could increase rather than reduce greenhouse emissions compared to conventional diesel fuels, reports a new study published in the journal Chemistry & Industry. Overall the researchers found that petroleum diesel and rapeseed biodiesel, presently the main biofuel used across Europe, have a similar environmental impact. The results suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change through the adoption of rapeseed biodiesel may be of little use beyond energy security.
Bush administration praises record level of global warming emissions
(04/17/2007) The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the 0.8 percent growth in greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 showed the Bush Administration was serious about addressing climate change.
Measures to drive adoption of super efficient cars in the U.S.
(04/11/2007) To reduce its growing dependence on foreign oil the United States could implement relatively low-cost measures to put millions of super efficient vehicles on American highways, said energy efficiency expert Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in a speech at Stanford University. The measures could significantly cut oil usage, help fight climate change, and make U.S. roads safer.
ConocoPhillips becomes first U.S. oil major to call for CO2 limits
(04/11/2007) This week ConocoPhillips became the first major U.S. oil firm to call for a legally-binding emissions cap. The Houston-based company said it would join the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of corporations seeking to influence future climate policy.
Climate report warns of drought, rising sea levels, species extinction
(04/05/2007) Global warming is likely to have wide-ranging impacts on the world's ecosystems, water availablity, and sea levels warned the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest installment. It said that mitigation and adaption strategies are the best way to reduce and prepare for the coming changes.
Supreme Court rebukes Bush Administration on global warming rule
(04/02/2007) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Bush Administration in a landmark case with global warming implications. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that (1) state governments and environmental groups have the right to sue the EPA, and (2) the EPA has the right to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. On a third point, where the EPA can choose not to regulate CO2 emissions, the Supreme Court directed the agency to "reconsider its refusal based on the factors set forth in the law."
U.S. government seeks to weaken Endangered Species Act
(03/28/2007) The Bush Administration is seeking to rewrite the Endangered Species Act to significantly reduce its effectiveness in protecting threatened species say environmentalists who released secret U.S. government documents on the issue.
Bush, U.S. automakers look for easy way out of fuel standards
(03/26/2007) President Bush praised U.S. automakers on their efforts to build more 'flexible fuel' vehicles capable of running on blends of gasoline and biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Environments retorted that the announcement was simply a ploy to undermine efforts to develop more fuel efficient cars, according to The Associated Press.
Bush administration seeks to cull Endangered Species Act
(03/20/2007) After losing a series of lawsuits to protect endangered species, the Bush administration moved to reinterpret the Endangered Species Act so that it would only apply to areas where species are at risk, not areas where they are thriving or have already disappeared.
Timber industry teams with greens on new anti-illegal logging bill
(03/15/2007) A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill to ban the use of illegally-harvested timber and wood products. Led by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Robert Wexler (D-FL), and Jerry Weller (R-IL) the legislation would make it a crime to import, export, possess, purchase or sell illicit timber.
Bush administration cuts funding for geothermal energy
(03/13/2007) The Bush Administration is seeking to eliminate federal funding for geothermal energy research according to a report from Reuters. Oddly, the move comes as the White House has made a push for renewable energy to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports. Apparently the administration appears to be focused on biofuels as liquid fuels and nuclear for electricity generation.
Bush administration issues gag order on polar bear discussions
(03/08/2007) The Bush administration has banned discussion of polar bears, sea ice, and global warming among officials traveling overseas according to environmental groups and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ozone ban has been more effective in fighting global warming than Kyoto Protocol
(03/05/2007) The 1987 Montreal Protocol, which restricted the use of ozone-depleting substances, has helped slow the rate of global warming in addition to protecting the ozone layer, report scientists writing in a paper published online in the early edition of PNAS.
U.S. GHG emissions to rise 20% by 2020
(03/03/2007) The United States expects to emit 19 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 2020 according to a report from the Associated Press. The draft report, which is still in progress and is more than a year late, projects 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000, if the Bush Administration climate policy proceeds as planned.
Environmental controversy brews over TXU deal
(03/02/2007) Initially hailed as a victory for the environment, the private equity deal to acquire Texas-energy company TXU Corp is now facing criticism from some green groups reports the Saturday issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Al Gore wins Oscar but does not announce presidential bid
(02/25/2007) Al Gore won an Oscar for his global warming documentary but did not announce a bid for the 2008 presidential election. Speculation had been rife that he might use the Academy Awards platform -- with more than one billion people said to be watching -- to launch his candidacy for president.
Government subsidies drive deep-sea fish depletion
(02/18/2007) Saturday an international team of economists and scientists called for a ban on government subsidies that drive deep-sea trawling. Biologists say the practice is destroying the world's fisheries.
Societies must adapt to global warming, mitigation alone is not the answer
(02/07/2007) Mankind must prepare for global warming by building resilient societies and fostering sustainable development, says a team scientists writing in the current issue of the journal Nature. The researchers say climate change is inevitable and policymakers should be plan adaptation strategies to minimize the negative impacts of future environmental stresses on society.
Brazil calls out rich countries on global warming
(02/06/2007) Reuters reports that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized wealthy countries for their contributions to global warming and told them to stay out of Brazil's business when it comes to the fate of the Amazon rainforest.
Global warming report released in Paris
(02/02/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) officially unveiled its long-waited report on global climate change. The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries and representatives from 113 governments reviewed and signed off on the report the course of this week.
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