Category - Environment

Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago

Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.

Inside Climate News, By Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song & David Hasemyer, September 16

At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

“In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.

It was July 1977 when Exxon’s leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.

A year later, Black, a top technical expert in Exxon’s Research & Engineering division, took an updated version of his presentation to a broader audience. He warned Exxon scientists and managers that independent researchers estimated a doubling of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit), and as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) at the poles. Rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert.
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Northern California Wildfires Prompt Emergency Declaration

New York Times, By Ashley Southall, September 13

Two wildfires in Northern California have devoured more than 100,000 acres of drought-parched land near Sacramento, injuring four firefighters and prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency on Sunday.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fires had forced thousands of residents to evacuate, and had damaged or destroyed homes, schools and highways.

A fast-moving fire that started on Saturday spread to 40,000 acres overnight and raged out of control on Sunday, prompting Mr. Brown to declare a state of emergency for Lake and Napa Counties.

More than 1,000 firefighters were dispatched to the blaze, called the Valley Fire, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state fire agency. Four were hospitalized on Saturday to be treated for second-degree burns.

Los Angeles Times: Residents flee huge California wildfire; governor declares emergency

In Radical Shift, GOP Leaders Actively Embrace Catastrophic Climate Change

Climate Progress, By Joe Romm, September 11

Over the past year, GOP leaders, driven by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have made a radical shift in the party’s public position on climate change. They are now actively seeking to destroy a global climate deal.

In any other universe this would be a major news story. But I guess the mainstream media has become so jaded to what the Koch brothers and Tea Party have done to the Republican party at a national level, that this radical shift seems just like another dog-bites-man-story, albeit one where the wound is fatal.

In fact, for most of the past quarter-century, most of the GOP leadership has at least given lip service to the idea that global warming is a global problem that needs a global solution. Not only have they abandoned that public position, but they now apparently believe the role of the “exceptional” and “indispensable” nation is to actively work to undermine the world’s best chance to save billions of people — including generations of Americans — from needless misery.
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UN plan to save Earth is “fig leaf” for Big Business: insiders

Why the new Sustainable Development agenda is “fundamentally compromised” by corporate interests – UN records reveal that the intergovernmental body has already marginalised the very groups it claims to be rescuing from poverty, hunger and climate disaster.

Insurge Intelligence, By Nafeez Ahmed, September 4

At the end of this month, the UN will launch its new 2030 Sustainable Development agenda for “people, planet and prosperity” in New York, where it will be formally adopted by over 150 world leaders.

The culmination of years of consultations between governments, communities and businesses all over the world, there is no doubt that the agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer an unprecedented vision of the interdependence of global social, economic and environmental issues.

But records from the SDG process reveal that insiders at the heart of the UN’s intergovernment engagement negotiations have criticised the international body for pandering to the interests of big business and ignoring recommendations from grassroots stakeholders representing the world’s poor.

Formal statements issued earlier this year as part of the UN’s Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations on the SDGs, and published by the UN Sustainable Development Division, show that UN ‘Major Groups’ representing indigenous people, civil society, workers, young people and women remain deeply concerned by the general direction of the SDG process — whereas corporate interests from the rich, industrialised world have viewed the process favourably.

The Clean Power Plan Is Barely Better Than Kyoto; IPPC Says: We Must Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere

Truthout, By Bruce Melton, August 16

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is 12 percent more stringent than the Kyoto Protocol, yet since 1978, the US has emitted as much carbon dioxide as we emitted in the previous 228 years. Globally, since 1984, our civilization has emitted as much carbon dioxide as in the previous 236 years.

The new EPA carbon regulations in the Clean Power Plan require about the same carbon dioxide emissions reductions as what was proposed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, when we as a global society first recognized that climate pollution was a problem. What resulted was the Kyoto Protocol, and its proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels in the US and similar levels in other developed countries.

The grand contradiction between the latest climate science and current climate policy is that since about the beginning of the Kyoto Era, we have emitted as much climate pollution as we emitted since mankind first began altering the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere to a noticeable degree in the mid-1700s.


The myth comes from the ability of models to recreate abrupt changes. And the models truly are quite challenged when it comes to abrupt changes, or at least they were until last year. Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Hawaii have successfully modeled abrupt changes over a portion of the past 100,000 years by simulating fresh water impulses from iceberg armadas in the North Atlantic. Not only do we know from physical evidence that these abrupt changes are real, but now we can model them.

We also have a great deal of physical evidence about what happened to our environment during natural climate changes of all kinds; impacts to forests, oceans, rainfall, etc. When we back the models up and run them with ancient climate conditions and ocean circulations, the models are accurate for the slow changes. As of last year, the models are even getting toward reliability for abrupt changes.

When everything is taken into consideration, the professional opinion of the IPCC as stated in its Summary for Policy Makers is that emissions reductions alone are nowhere near what are needed. Strong negative emissions are required. A large, continuous, net removal of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere is required.

The methods could be agricultural, reforestation and/or industrial and energy smokestack capture, but one thing is certain; all of these things combined will not create a large net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Direct atmospheric removal of carbon dioxide is required.

This means that even progressive climate policy that is much more aggressive than the Clean Power Plan just adopted in Austin, Texas, that will strive to meet net-zero (or zero emissions of carbon dioxide) by 2030, are inadequate to say the least.

Final word: All is not lost. Treating climate pollution like the pollution it is can be done for similar costs to what we spend on advertising across the planet every year. The same voices that have so badly discombobulated the climate science discussion in the general population have also masked the true solutions to the treatment of climate pollution. Please tell your friends.

Fifteen states seek to block EPA carbon rule

State attorneys general argue the EPA has overstepped its regulatory authority

Al Jazeera, August 13

Fifteen state attorneys general filed a court petition in Washington on Thursday to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants, in the first of several expected legal challenges to the Obama administration measure.

States from Alabama to West Virginia that oppose the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan filed for the stay in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and asked for a ruling by Sept. 8, one year before states need to submit compliance plans to the EPA.

“This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Russia lays claim to vast areas of Arctic [again]

Foreign ministry says it has submitted bid to UN for more than 463,000 sq miles of sea shelf as competition for oil and gas resources heats up.

AP, August 4

Russia has submitted a bid to the UN claiming vast territories in the Arctic, the country’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia is claiming 1.2m sq km (over 463,000 sq miles) of sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650km) from the shore.

Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas. Rivalry for resources has intensified as shrinking polar ice is opening up new exploration opportunities.

VICE news: Russia Just Laid Claim to a Vast Chunk of the Arctic
CNBC: Move Over, Santa: Putin Claims the North Pole

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record

Washington Post, By Jason Samenow, July 31

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity.

Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.

To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).

Apparently that’s 0.3° C below the 35° C wet-bulb temperature limit of human of human endurance.

WaPo: Iran’s heat index is literally off the charts, and this is what it feels like

Hillary Clinton unveils climate change policy

Los Angeles Times, By Evan Halper & Seema Mehta, July 26

Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to position herself as a crusader against climate change Sunday by unveiling some robust goals, even as she continued to avoid some of the more contentious battles around global warming.

Clinton announced that she will push to vastly expand the number of solar panels installed in the United States, as well as to boost overall renewable energy to the point that it will be able to fuel all homes and businesses by 2027.

The proposals reflect Clinton’s commitment to continuing the path on climate change set by President Obama, who champions numerous policies that bolster renewables and push a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.

The Clinton package is incomplete, however. Unlike her rivals in the Democratic presidential contest, Clinton has yet to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast ports. She also has yet to weigh in on a campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing nationwide, or to take a firm position on offshore oil drilling.

The proposal Clinton released Sunday for boosting solar installations by 700% is vague on details about how it would be funded.

Think Progress: Clinton Campaign Releases Horror Film Montage Of Climate-Denying Presidential Candidates

Mammoths killed by abrupt climate change

Science Daily, July 23

New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid human-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth’s past.

Using advances in analysing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.

Published today in Science, the researchers say by contrast, extreme cold periods, such as the last glacial maximum, do not appear to correspond with these extinctions.

“This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns,” said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.