2. The Arctic Ice Melt

Sep-07-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: You may have heard of the Arctic reaching unprecedented melting. But why is that so bad? Two primary reasons: it increases the rate of global warming, as dark water reflects less sunlight than white ice; it allows devastation of a very fragile ecosystem. Someday, people will ask what our leaders were thinking.

* Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low New York Times

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region and a likely harbinger of larger changes to come.

Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.

Comparative Images Of Arctic Sea Ice In 1979 And 2012

* Arctic Ice Melt ‘Like Adding 20 Years Of CO2 Emissions’  The Agonist

So says preeminent British ocean physics scientist Prof. Peter Wadham. 

White ice reflects more sunlight than open water, acting like a parasol. Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption. Prof Wadhams calculates that this increased absorption of the sun’s rays is “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.

The Cambridge University expert says that the Arctic ice cap is “heading for oblivion”. In 1980, the Arctic ice in summer made up some 2% of the Earth’s surface. But since then the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.“The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and that’s really the prelude to this final collapse,” Prof Wadhams said.

* All We Do Is Try To Profit From Disaster George Monbiot The Guardian

This great dissolution, of ice and certainties, is happening so much faster than most climate scientists predicted that one of them reports: “It feels as if everything I’ve learned has become obsolete.” In its last assessment, published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that “in some projections, Arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st century”. These were the most extreme forecasts in the panel’s range. Some scientists now forecast that the disappearance of Arctic sea-ice in late summer could occur in this decade or the next.

…Our governments do nothing. Having abandoned any pretence of responding to the environmental crisis during the Earth summit in June, now they stare stupidly as the ice on which we stand dissolves. Nothing – or worse than nothing. Their one unequivocal response to the melting has been to facilitate the capture of the oil and fish it exposes.

The companies that caused this disaster are scrambling to profit from it. On Sunday Shell requested an extension to its exploratory drilling period in the Chukchi Sea, off the north-west coast of Alaska. This would push its operations hard against the moment when the ice re-forms and any spills they cause are locked in. The Russian oil company Gazprom is using the great melt to try to drill in the Pechora Sea, north-east of Murmansk. After turning its Arctic lands in the Komi republic into the Niger delta of the north (repeated oil spills are left unmediated in the tundra), Russia wants to extend this industry into one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, where ice, storms and darkness make decontamination almost impossible.



2. No Use Crying over Spilled Oil

Jul-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: And most certainly no need to cry if you’re the head of Enbridge and get a 34% pay raise for managing oil spills “like the Keystone Kops”. The only silver lining to the farce (aside from the execs pockets) is that it makes the Trans National pipeline less appealing. (Fair play: Enbridge says that will be different.) And Shell can’t manage its oil rigs in a protected harbour, which is also less than confidence inspiring. Wired has a powerful photo spread of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of giant oil rigs.

* Enbridge slammed for ‘Keystone Kops’ response to Michigan spill The Globe and Mail

Enbridge Inc. has been slammed in a scathing review of its massive Michigan pipeline spill, with a U.S. watchdog saying the company acted like “the Keystone Kops” and ignored safety procedures while suffering “pervasive organizational failures.”

More than 3 million litres of oil leaked into wetlands, Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River after a pipeline belonging to Enbridge ruptured near Marshall, Mich., on July 25, 2010. The company expects to spend $765-million cleaning up – five times more than the next costliest onshore cleanup effort – with its insurance footing most of the bill.A worker from a local gas utility reported the spill to Enbridge’s control centre 17 hours and 19 minutes after the line had failed, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said at a hearing Tuesday.

“Learning about Enbridge’s poor handling of the rupture, you can’t help but think of the Keystone Kops,” Deborah Hersman, NTSB’s chair, said in her opening remarks at Tuesday’s hearing. “Why didn’t they recognize what was happening? What took so long?”

* Enbridge Execs Got Big Pay Raises After Continent’s Costliest Pipeline Spill The Tyee

Just months after Enbridge caused the costliest onshore pipeline spill in U.S. history, the board of directors for Calgary-based Enbridge rewarded senior executives with pay raises in 2010. According to Enbridge’s 2011”management information circular” the company’s 12 directors voted to raise their own annual retainers by $30,000 and increased compensation for CEO and president Patrick Daniel from $6 million to $8.1 million in 2010.

Stephen J. Wouri, president of liquid pipelines, also saw his income increase from $1.9 million to $2.7 million in 2010. In fact all executives received substantial raises. Earlier in 2010, on July 25, an Enbridge pipeline carrying diluted bitumen ruptured, pouring the toxic mixture for 17 hours into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall township in Michigan. …“The Marshall incident was factored into the 2010 short-term incentive awards for all of the named executives,” said the circular.

* Shell Can’t Keep Its Drill Rig Under Control In A Protected Harbor RoyalDutchShell

Shell’s Arctic oil ambitions ran into new problems Saturday evening when the Discoverer drilling rig, slated to begin exploratory operations in the Chukchi Sea next month, ran adrift in stiff winds in Alaska’s Dutch Harbor and came perilously close to the beach.

The vessel’s anchor failed to hold and the 514-foot ship began drifting, but its movement was halted when tug boats were called in to assist, Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis told the Los Angeles Times.

“We don’t know exactly what happened yet. We do know that the vessel’s anchor didn’t hold, they began to drift, they let out more anchor chain to slow that drift and called for immediate tug assistance,” Francis said.

Photos shot by residents of the large fishing port in the Aleutian Islands show the Discoverer heart-stoppingly close to the beach

* Burtynsky’s Giant Oil Photos  Wired



12. Quote of the Week (or) After You, Joe!

Jun-01-2012 | Comments Off

“The fact is the tailings ponds are being cleaned up and you’ll be able to drink from them.” Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on Alberta’s tarsands’ tailing ponds



5. Oncoming Energy Issues

Feb-10-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Like many others, I’ve been puzzled as to why there has been such intense denial to the obvious and proven fact of man-made climate change. In a great article Bill McKibbon makes the answer clear. Because to stop using oil would cause massive economic dislocation to oil companies. This is an article worth reading; and the January image of our planet, centred on snow-free north America is pretty telling. The second piece explores the economics further, the 3rd looks at the crisis renewables face, and we end with a Big Picture photo feature on coal. Lovely photos; depressing scenarios.

* The Great Carbon BubbleBill McKibbon NationofChange

We have some truly beautiful images made possible by new technology.  Last month, for instance, NASA updated the most iconic photograph in our civilization’s gallery: “Blue Marble,” originally taken from Apollo 17 in 1972. The spectacular new high-def image shows a picture of the Americas on January 4th, a good day for snapping photos because there weren’t many clouds….As Jeff Masters, the web’s most widely read meteorologist, explains, “The U.S. and Canada are virtually snow-free and cloud-free, which is extremely rare for a January day. The lack of snow in the mountains of the Western U.S. is particularly unusual. I doubt one could find a January day this cloud-free with so little snow on the ground throughout the entire satellite record, going back to the early 1960s….Watching the weather over the past two years has been like watching a famous baseball hitter on steroids.”

In the face of such data — statistics that you can duplicate for almost every region of the planet — you’d think we’d already be in an all-out effort to do something about climate change. Instead, we’re witnessing an all-out effort to… deny there’s a problem.

And when they do break their silence, some of our elite organs are happy to indulge in outright denial. Last month, for instance, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by “16 scientists and engineers” headlined “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” The article was easily debunked. It was nothing but a mash-up of long-since-disproved arguments by people who turned out mostly not to be climate scientists at all, quoting other scientists who immediately said their actual work showed just the opposite. It’s no secret where this denialism comes from: the fossil fuel industry pays for it. (Of the 16 authors of the Journal article, for instance, five had had ties to Exxon.) Writers from Ross Gelbspan to Naomi Oreskes have made this case with such overwhelming power that no one even really tries denying it any more. The open question is why the industry persists in denial…

* The Big Choice  Capital Institute

Barring a miracle technology advance in the next decade (keep working brilliant scientists and entrepreneurs), if we want to avoid civilization-transforming and global  security threatening climate change, we must absorb a global security threatening $20 trillion write off (that’s 40 percent of global GDP) into our already stressed global economy.  Even if gradually spread over a decade or more, with partial offsetting value creation in sustainable energy industries, this is an unprecedented challenge. 

* Rare Minerals Dearth Threatens Global Renewables Industry  Guardian

Shortages of a handful of rare minerals could slow the future growth of the burgeoning renewable energy industries, and affect countries’ chances of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, business leaders were told at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

Last year, prices of many scarce minerals exploded, rising as much as 10 times over 2010 levels before dropping back, said PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Terbium, yttrium, dysprosium, europium and neodymium are widely used in the manufacture of wind turbines, solar panels, electric car batteries and energy-efficient lightbulbs. But because these “rare earths” are mined almost exclusively in China, it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to source them in the required quantities.

In a survey of some of the largest clean energy manufacturers, 78% told PwC said they were already experiencing instability of supply of rare metals, and most said they did not expect shortages to ease for at least five years. Currently, 95% of the rare earth minerals needed by clean tech industries come from China which has set strict export quotas. Last year China reserved most for its own for its domestic wind, solar and battery industries, shifting costs to the US and Europe which do not mine any of the minerals.

* Coal  The Big Picture



Older Posts »




Categories


Blog Roll

Al Jazeera
altmuslim
Bernard Avishai
boingboing
Broadsides: Antonia Zerbisias
China Matters
Haaretz
Informed Comment
Lawrence of Cyberia
Mondoweiss
Rabble.ca: Canadian leftish voices
Reddit
Stephen Walt Foreign Policiy
The Big Picture
The Guardian
Tikkun Daily Blog
Tikun Olam

Tags

  • 2010
  • 4chan
  • 9/11
  • 99%
  • acrobats. world cup
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Advertisements
  • advertising
  • advice
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • ageing
  • Al Jazeera
  • Amy Chua
  • anarchism
  • animals
  • animation
  • Anonymous
  • antibiotics
  • apocalypse
  • apple
  • April Fool
  • archeology
  • Archie
  • architecture
  • Assange
  • assassins creed
  • astro-turfing
  • Aswan
  • Atwood
  • Australia
  • Australia Flood
  • Balance
  • balloons
  • Banksy
  • Bar Mitzvah
  • BDS
  • Beatles
  • birds
  • black bloc
  • Bodies
  • books
  • BP
  • BP Oil
  • brains
  • Brazil
  • Breivik
  • British election
  • Burning Man
  • busyness
  • Calgary
  • Canada
  • Canadian Election
  • cancer
  • Cancun
  • capitalism
  • Carnival
  • censorship
  • Census
  • Chernobyl
  • children
  • china
  • Chinese Parents
  • Christmas
  • circus
  • climate change
  • coal
  • coffee
  • color
  • colour
  • community
  • conspiracies
  • copyright
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Crazy
  • Creativity
  • crime
  • Crows
  • Dalai Lama
  • danger
  • Data
  • Decisions
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Dogs
  • Doonesbury
  • drones
  • Drugs
  • earthquake
  • economics
  • Education
  • Egypt
  • energy
  • english defence league
  • EU
  • Expo 2010
  • facebook
  • family
  • fashion
  • Feminism
  • festivals
  • film
  • First Nations
  • fish
  • Flotilla
  • Flowers
  • fonts
  • fracking
  • France
  • frugality
  • ftw
  • fukushima
  • G20
  • G8
  • Gaudi
  • Gay
  • gay marriage
  • Gay Pride Day
  • Gaza
  • Gaza flotilla
  • Gene Sharp
  • gene-splicing
  • gifs
  • Goldstone
  • Good News
  • Google
  • Google Art
  • graffiti
  • grafitti
  • ground zero mosque
  • Halloween
  • Harper
  • Healing
  • Hell
  • homeopathy
  • Horses
  • Huck Finn
  • Humpback Whales
  • ice cream
  • iceland satellite
  • Immigrants
  • immigration
  • incest
  • Indonesia
  • inside job
  • instant karma
  • Iran
  • Iroquois
  • Isaiah Mustafa
  • Islamophobia
  • Israel
  • J-Street
  • Jack Layton
  • Japan
  • Jon Stewart
  • Jstreet
  • Kashmir
  • Keynes
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • language
  • Lerner
  • Lesbian
  • Libya
  • Lions
  • logic
  • London Riots
  • Loughner
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • M.C. Escher
  • madness
  • maps
  • Marxism
  • Mary Oliver
  • McChrystal
  • medicine
  • migration
  • money
  • Monsanto
  • Mormons
  • mountain top removal
  • Music
  • Muslim Brotherhood
  • mutants
  • NDP
  • niqab
  • NiqaBitch
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Norway
  • Obama
  • ocean
  • Oil
  • oil sands
  • Oil spill
  • Old Spice
  • Olympics
  • one state
  • optical illusions
  • ows
  • pain
  • Pakistan
  • Pakistani Floods
  • Palestine
  • parallel state
  • Pelicans
  • penguins
  • Philanthropy
  • photography
  • photos
  • pirates
  • placebo
  • Poetry
  • police
  • pornography
  • prisons
  • Prom
  • Proposition 8
  • protest
  • Psychiatry
  • psychosis
  • Pussy Riot
  • quantum physics
  • Quebec students
  • Quiz
  • Quizzes
  • racism
  • rainbows
  • rap
  • Reddit
  • Roma
  • Romney
  • Rowling
  • Rush
  • Russia
  • Russian Fires
  • Sarah Palin
  • satire
  • Scanners
  • schools
  • SCOTUS
  • sculpture
  • Security
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Snow
  • Socialism
  • sound
  • south park
  • sport hockey Python
  • Sports
  • Statistics
  • stats
  • Steve Jobs
  • strikes
  • stupid
  • subway
  • summer
  • surfing
  • surveillance
  • Syria
  • tar sands
  • tattoos
  • Tea Party
  • Teachers
  • tectonic plates
  • TED talks
  • terrorism
  • Thailand
  • The Kinks
  • Tiger Mom
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto
  • Torture
  • trains
  • travel
  • Trees
  • TSA scanners
  • Tsunami
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • TV
  • ubb
  • UK
  • UK riots
  • unicorns
  • Unions
  • United Nations
  • vaccine
  • Valentine's Day
  • video games
  • volcano
  • Wall Street Protest
  • water
  • weapons
  • weather
  • wikileaks
  • wikipedia
  • winter
  • Winter Solstice
  • Winter Sports
  • Wisconsin
  • words
  • World Cup
  • yoga
  • youth