The Obama administration on Friday will propose lifting most of the remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts but has been criticized by some scientists as premature.
Under the administration’s plan, federal protections would remain only for a fledgling population of Mexican gray wolves in the desert Southwest. The proposal will be subject to a public comment period and a final decision made within a year.
Note this is in addition to previous efforts by Obama that allowed hunting of wolves for the first time in decades. Over 1,600 have been killed. See my wolf tag for additional background.
Climate change will open up surprising new Arctic shipping routes
“Right now, the Arctic Ocean is still too icy and treacherous for open-water ships to traverse with any regularity. The Northwest Passage is only navigable during the summer months once every seven years or so. Too unreliable for commercial shipping.
But that will soon change. As the planet keeps warming, the Arctic’s summer sea ice is vanishing at a stunning pace. That rapid melt is expected to have all sorts of sweeping impacts, from speeding up climate change to wreaking havoc on weather patterns. On the flip side, the loss of sea ice could also open up some potentially lucrative new trade routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, led by UCLA geographer Laurence Smith, looks at how the Arctic will change under even modest levels of global warming. Through computer simulations, the researchers found that open-water vessels will be able to, in theory, cross the Northwest Passage and North Sea Route regularly in the summer by 2050 without icebreakers. And icebreaker ships may be able to ram right through the North Pole:
The blue lines show the fastest routes available for common open-water ships during the summer, while the red lines show routes available for Polar Class 6 ships with moderate icebreaker capacity. By 2040-2059, there are many more routes.
The change here is quite striking. Right now, no commercial shipping goes through the Northwest Passage that hugs northern Canada. Yet by mid-century, those routes could potentially be clear for open-water vessels every other summer. Likewise, the Northern Sea Route that hugs Russia is projected to be open in late summer 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent today.”
“The Crisis in Climate Reporting.” - An event by climate, environment, and media experts on how journalists are a critical conduit to discussing climate change.
The speakers explored several practical solutions and then launch into a decent Q&A. Some were simple, such as directing readers to share their reading materials or collaborate with authors from various news outlets (e.g., Mother Jones partnering with, say, Washington Post to work on and cross-post the same stories, which would reach different audiences.). It was good to hear some practical solutions rather than esoteric brainstorming.
The public is poorly served by reports about climate change that follow familiar lines and surface only when there’s a severe weather event or UN conference; meanwhile, media outlets like the New York Times are scaling back on environmental reporting.
Orion and media watchdog Free Press convened a panel of authors and activists (including Kate Sheppard, M. Sanjayan, Bill McKibben, and others) to propose concrete actions for improving the state of climate reporting in the mainstream media.
Climate Science Communications Week is winding down at Climate Adaptation! For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I covered how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit
The bigger reason for giving storms names is “to create better understanding and more awareness [of severe weather] so that people are better prepared.”
The federal government has been naming warm-season storms for decades, but it’s never done so for the cold variety. It has no plans to adopt the Weather Channel’s names, either.
One reason: Unlike the government process for naming tropical systems — which is based on strict objective measures such as barometric pressure and wind speed — the Weather Channel’s naming standards are a little squishy.
The channel says its meteorologists consider several variables — snowfall, ice, wind, temperature — that can produce “disruptive impacts” in populated areas, particularly during weekday hours, before giving a storm a name. It hasn’t spelled out how much snow or wind in each area it considers “disruptive.”
It all, apparently, depends.
Naming storms: Public service or just a lot of hot air?
Does it matter that Al Gore makes money from investing in green-tech companies?
Update: Many positive responses. But, the argument the right is making is that Al Gore has an agenda with his talks. That he’s talking up saving the environment as a
rouse ruse to get people to invest in companies that he has stakes in. This is the same style of argument the left has used against politicians on the right - manipulating both markets and public-thought for personal gain. Dick Cheney, for the most egregious example, was hounded by the left for funneling contracts to Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, both of which Cheney had stakes in. In fact, some have argued his investments were an impeachable offense. I get that Gore is on the side of “good”. I understand that argument. But, it doesn’t really address the accusation that he’s talking up environmental regulations that would benefit a select group of ‘green’ companies. Thoughts?
“This is not your typical summer road trip. Yes, we’re getting out the maps and fueling up the car. But we are going in search of a story about the very thing that makes such road trips possible: oil.
Our journey will take us the full length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. We’ll begin with a visit to the oil sands in Alberta, then pick up the pipeline route, traveling down the spine of the country from Montana across the Great Plains to the Texas gulf coast.”
Three journalists travel the Keystone route.
Finally, the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline is approved. The pipeline will transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas to be refined into fuel and chemicals, them (mostly) shipped and sold on the international market. Only a portion of the oil and refined products will go to American industries and gas stations. TransCanada, a foreign company, will temporarily hire both foreign and American workers to build the pipeline, some of it on land taken via eminent domain.
On Friday, TransCanada received the last of three permits it needed from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction on the 485-mile stretch of pipeline.
The permits dealt a blow to efforts by national environmental groups to slow the momentum behind the southern leg of the project — now also known as the Gulf Coast project. Those groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, have urged their Texas supporters to send comments to the Army Corps, which governs pipeline permits there. The groups have highlighted dangers linked to wetlands and rivers.
But the Army Corps have moved ahead.
Excellent reporting via Washington Post: TransCanada gets key go-ahead for final southern leg of pipeline project
In an extraordinary display of judicial distemper, Scalia departed entirely from the law at one point and attacked an Obama administration policy that wasn’t at issue in the case. Footnoting a New York Times news article rather than case law, Scalia opined on a recent news conference by President Obama.
Dana Milbank discusses Anthony Scalia’s rising senility and off-topic attack on the Obama administration in today’s immigration ruling. WaPo
“Perhaps not for long. Already, a slew of reports are warning that Japan could face grim economic consequences if it keeps its reactors offline. Before a tsunami and earthquake caused a meltdown at Fukushima’s Daiichi reactor last year, atomic power provided 27 percent of the Japan’s electricity. Since the shutdowns, the country has been importing more oil and natural gas to keep the lights on. And that’s costly. A recent report (pdf) from Japan’s Institute for Energy Economics found that, as a result, the country’s GDP would grow just 0.1 percent in 2012, and Japan could find struggling with electricity shortages during the sweaty summer months.
By contrast, the IEEJ report found, if Japan began switching its nuclear reactors back on this summer, the economy would grow 1.9 percent this year — largely because lower electricity prices would allow factories to ramp up production. What’s more, by curtailing its fossil-fuel imports, Japan would be able to run a trade surplus this year, instead of a projected $57 billion trade deficit. (Currently, Japan imports about 90 percent of its oil from the Middle East, and the country’s newfound appetite for crude has helped drive global prices upward.)
What Japan does with its reactors could have significant climate-change consequences, too”
Via the excellent Brad Plumer of WaPo