Climate Adaptation

CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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In 1980, Lake Peigneu, Louisiana disappeared into an underground vortex of doom. Actually, the accident was due to a math error, which resulted in one of the strangest oil drilling and salt mining accidents in U.S. history.

The Diamond Salt company had a huge salt mining operation under the lake. Meanwhile, Texaco Oil was drilling for oil from shallow platforms, which were built on the lake. Texaco roughnecks set a new drill a few hundred feet down, through the lake, through the lake bed, and into the earth. The drill bit hit one of the salt mine shafts, and the above disaster happened.

Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, it does. The entire lake was sucked into the mine. The drill hole was originally 14 inches, but the force of the water expanded it to hundreds of feet across. At one point, a reverse water fall of 150 feet was formed because the Gulf of Mexico drained backwards (north!) into the lake. Watch the event unfold disaster on top of disaster. It is incredible. Via BoingBoing.

Survey Finds Majority Backs Keystone Pipeline

Nanos Research conducted the poll and they’re pretty legit. Via WSJ.

For background, check out my Keystone XL Pipeline and Oil tags.

EPA criticizes environmental review of Keystone XL pipeline

You can read the EPA’s letter, here. Via LATimes

For background, check out my Keystone XL Pipeline and Oil tags.

Obama administration to announce decision on Keystone XL Pipeline with days.

It will be approved. Nearly half of the line is already built, the land from Canada to Texas is already secured, Sec. State John Kerry signaled his support, and redstate politicians are salivating for a knockout punch to the environmental movement.

RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (whom I interviewed back in 2005) predicts the approval will be wrapped in green packaging. He thinks Keystone approval will be surrounded by “a whole formidable array of environmental and anti-carbon measures that can not just offset the harm that they do by approving [Keystone] … but actually turn the whole package into a very strong, anti-carbon pollution suite of strategies.”

Meet your new Secretary of the Interior: Sally Jewell

mypubliclands:

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On April 12, 2013, Sally Jewell was sworn in as the 51st Secretary of the Interior.

In nominating Jewell, President Obama said, “She is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future.  She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.  She knows the link between conservation and good jobs.  She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.” 

As Secretary of the Interior, Jewell leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees. Interior serves as steward for approximately 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands; oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Prior to her confirmation, Jewell served in the private sector, most recently as President and Chief Executive Officer of Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI).

Read More

Great news! InsideClimate wins a Pulitzer!

Five-year-old news site honored for exposé of Michigan oil spill

Canadian govt demands community members fill out a 10-page questionnaire and submit their CV in order to seek permission to comment on oil pipeline

Clever tactic by captured politicians.

“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?”

inothernews:

DEEP CUT  The Kennecott Copper Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah sits quiet after a landslide on April 11, 2013.  The mine owner has suspended operations inside one of the world’s deepest open pits as geologists assess a landslide the company says it anticipated for months.  (Photo: Ravell Call / The Deseret News via AP / NBC News)

Holy shit.

You are not going to believe this, but mining public lands is governed by the brutal Mining Act of 1872. This act requires developers to mine certain public lands. (Seriously, it is an abhorrent law and Democrats wont touch it. See here). The law mandates that mining be the highest use of any conceivable land development uses - above roads, electricity, environmental, conservation, even water protection.

Worse, unlike drilling for oil, no royalties are due to the U.S. government for any minerals or metals found (including gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, etc.) A royalty is essentially a fee on every gallon of oil found in the ground. The fee per gallon is paid into the U.S. Treasury, and used to manage permitting and environmental impacts from drilling. In fact, oil royalties are the second highest amount of money collected by the Federal Government (second only to your federal income taxes!). Mining companies are exempt from royalties! I swear this is true!

It gets even worse. This particular mine is run by a foreign mining firm called Rio Tinto, based in the UK. They mine the copper and keep all the money - almost none of it stays in American hands. They pay no royalties, do not have to restore the land, pollute American air, lands, aquifers, and rivers (albeit via EPA permits). Brilliant!

Why don’t oil companies hire climate deniers?

Every major oil company has a climate change division. Most have active climate change plans aimed at reducing emissions, managing environmental risks, and experimenting with alternatives to reduce climate impacts. Importantly, these are voluntary efforts.They chose to manage and discuss climate risk.

Here are links to the biggest oil and gas companies’ climate pages:

See also, Skeptical Science post Big Oil and the Demise of Crude Climate Change Denial.

The question is: What - exactly - do deniers know that these companies do not? And why are these companies not listening to (or hiring) deniers?

New video of the Exxon Pegasus oil spill in Arkansas.

How do you manage to stay so calm and civil and not get angry at the politicisation of climate change? It baffles me how newspapers like the Telegraph and political parties like UKIP can have a stance on climate change, and a denialist one at that. It simply isn't a political question, it's a scientific one - the atmosphere doesn't care who you vote for, it's warming up regardless. Do you think we'll ever get past this silly political rubbish and use actual facts to convince the deniers?

A question by procyonvulpecula

Hey procyonvulpecula!

Good question, but deniers don’t phase me (reactionary environmentalists grind my gears though!). I’ve argued on this blog that I’d rather have climate deniers state their case on the record now, for posterity. My previous post shows this as well - that climate deniers do not have any evidence, but they sure are masters of smoke and diversions.

It’s the same as getting politicians on record as racists and bigots - it will be used against them time and again. Eventually they’ll come around, you just have to be persistent, even keeled, and take the long view (often beyond your generation - the essence of sustainability, right?).

I’d also like to mention that I consider myself a steward rather than an activist. See here for what that means.

Light always leads to truth. I’m trained to convincingly argue the other side of nearly any issue - and deniers simply do not have a single, coherent argument against climate change.

But man, deniers do have very, very powerful arguments against taxation! That is, they deny climate change exists and their reasons almost always are: Big bad government shouldn’t punish energy companies by taxing carbon. After all, where would we be with out them? After all, you have to admit that reading this blog post on your computer or phone cannot happen with out the miracle of fossil fuels. After all, plastic and metals and economic development require burning fossil fuels. After all, socialism doesn’t work. After all, alternative energy is a waste of tax payer money. Most powerful is taxing carbon will raise the cost of gas and electricity - this appeals to everyone.

Do you see what just happened there? If you found yourself arguing against these points, then you’ve fallen into their trap. Don’t fall for it. Instead, paraphrase their argument so as to establish understanding of their point of view and then demand evidence for their points.

Climate change, aka the greenhouse effect, has been known since the 1800s. There is no sky with out greenhouse gasses. To deny that emitting greenhouse gasses does not thicken the sky is to say that the air around us - the atmosphere - does not exist. It is an absurdity.

In fact, every major oil company has a climate change division. Most have active climate change plans aimed at reducing emissions, managing environmental risks, and experimenting with alternatives to reduce climate impacts. Importantly, these are voluntary efforts.* The companies chose to manage and discuss climate risk.

Here are links to the biggest oil and gas companies’ climate pages:

See also, Skeptical Science post Big Oil and the Demise of Crude Climate Change Denial.

The question is: What - exactly - do deniers know that these companies do not? And why are these companies not listening to (or hiring) deniers?

There are more “sophisticated” denier arguments. “It’s snowing,” “the climate has changed before,” “that Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick graph is a hoax,” “it’s the sun,” “it’s the moon,” “the earth is cooling,” “computer models are unreliable,” etc. You can read over 150 of these here.

But none of them have data to back these arguments up (again, see here for a list of common denier arguments and why they’re all wrong [e.g., no evidence]). Most interesting is that almost all of these lead to the same conclusion: big bad government should not tax oil and gas companies (bizzare, right?).

So, to me, when I read a climate denial I mainly see that they’re concerned with taxation - a legitimate concern and a more interesting conversation.

The trouble is falling into traps - avoid responding to their points and learn how to tactfully demand evidence.

m

* If you are discussing this with an informed denier, they may counter that oil companies were forced by the U.S. federal government to create these climate divisions. Thus, 1) Demand for evidence or stfu (remember: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the burden of proof is always upon the claimant). For example, to say that the U.S. forced, say, Petrochina into managing climate change issues would require the denier to show the agreement and/or documents. 2) Most oil companies are not publicly traded on the U.S. boards. Publicly traded companies are required to disclose any environmental risks to their share holders. They do this on a form called a 10-K. In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) *asked* corporations to *voluntarily* disclose any climate risks to their share holders. Most companies hired experts to examine their operations. The resulting reports showed that many companies are not at risk, and they say this on their 10-Ks. Oil companies did the same, and found their operations are in fact at risk. So, they voluntarily disclose this information, and they did so publicly. In fact, some companies went further and opened up R&D to help reduce emissions and expand into renewable energies like solar and wind. So, don’t get pulled into the counter-argument that companies were “forced” to acknowledge 10-K disclosure. They weren’t.

Home drone video of the Exxon Pegasus pipeline oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. It’s being reported that media are not allowed to enter the site. Though, CNN has good video here.

ExxonMobil oil pipeline ruptures in Arkansas. Oil leaks into residential neighborhood, possibly into adjacent lake. More at Rawstory.

It’ll be cleaned up quickly.

ecowatchorg:

FOIA-Matic: A Tool for Pollution Response Transparency

SUBMIT FEEDBACK UNTIL 5PM TOMORROW.

To help citizens find out how the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency responded to pollution reports, we are proposing FOIA-matic, a new feature to be added to Louisiana Bucket Brigade‘s iWitness Pollution Map and SkyTruth‘s Gulf Oil Spill Tracker. This simple tool will enable anyone to easily submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Coast Guard and EPA to find out if  there was any response or enforcement to a pollution report.

Excellent. FOIA is complicated and expensive. Now, citizens can find more information from government regarding pollution (among other enviro-y things). Pass it on.

Note the above oil fire was just a few days ago.

Peru declares Amazon oil contamination emergency

Oil operators claim innocence since Peru did not have clear environmental standards when drilling began. Because, you know, screw ethics.

Peru’s government declared an environmental state of emergency on Monday in a remote Amazon jungle region it says has been affected by years of contamination at the country’s most productive oil fields, which are currently operated by Argentina-based Pluspetrol.

Indigenous groups in the Pastaza River basin near the Ecuador border have been complaining for years about the pollution and the failure of successive governments to address it. Authorities say one reason the pollution was never addressed is that until now Peru lacked the requisite environmental quality standards.

In declaring the emergency, Peru’s Environment Ministry said the contamination included high levels of lead, barium and chromium as well as petroleum-related compounds. The region is inhabited mostly by the Quichua and Ashuar, who are primarily hunter-gatherers.

The fields have been operated for roughly 12 years by Pluspetrol, the country’s biggest oil and natural gas producer, and it will be obliged to clean up the contamination, said Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.

The government also said the field’s previous operator, Occidental Petroleum, had not adequately remediated contamination either. It began drilling there in 1971. Pluspetrol took over in 2001. The 90-day emergency orders immediate action to reduce the risk of contamination to the local population.

Via NewsOK