Weekend News Update: Rise in Canadian flood claims tied to climate change; Lisa Jackson vows to maintain ‘aggressive environmental agenda’

Prokaryotes and others can post links here to interesting weekend news/links.

Rise in flood claims tied to climate change

Canadian insurance companies are facing unprecedented growth in claims and payouts for water-related home damage, and industry experts lay the blame squarely on climate change.

In 2009, insurance payouts nationwide totalled $5.3-billion, with more than half of claims being paid for extreme weather events.

Heavy rainfall causing flooded basements was the main culprit, costing the insurance industry $1.3-billion in 2009.

For many years, fire damage was the most expensive cost for companies, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

But 10 years ago, water damage claims started to increase, until 2005 when they surpassed fire costs.

Today, the bureau reports that water damages account for more than half of all insurance claims.

“Now that comes from, of course, the washing machine that break down, but it’s also the fact that the municipal infrastructure has not been designed to withstand what we are experiencing, and the fact that the climate has changed,” says Robert Tremblay, research director at the bureau.

While world leaders and UN bureaucrats discuss strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change, including flooded basements after heavy rain.

That means cities and citizens need to adapt, says the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

“For most of the country, the infrastructure is not built for the climate that we are now starting to see,” argued Brock Carlton, the federation’s CEO….

New reality means heavy rain, extreme weather

As for the science of climate change, the increase in the severity of extreme rain events is undeniable, environment experts say.

Climate modelling research has found that on a global scale there is a steady upward trend in heavy precipitation, according to Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, and former director of Environment Canada’s climate research branch.

“That means, you know, additional flooding [and] more frequent events when people will have to mop out their basements,” says Zwiers.

Related Post:  Study finds global warming is driving increased frequency of extreme wet or dry summer weather in southeast, so droughts and deluges are likely to get worse.

Jackson vows to maintain ‘aggressive environmental agenda’

BOSTON — The Obama administration is committed to an “aggressive environmental agenda” that goes beyond what was achieved during the past four decades, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said today during a speech at Harvard University.

Jackson spoke during a conference that featured appearances by several leading lights of the environmental movement, including EPA’s first administrator, Bill Ruckelshaus, and former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke to agency officials during an invitation-only luncheon.

The event capped a week of events celebrating EPA’s 40th birthday and also previewed the case the agency will make when the balance of power on Capitol Hill shifts toward the Republicans next year.

High-ranking Republicans have vowed to keep Jackson and other top officials tethered to the witness stand, pushing Congress to block regulations that they feel would harm the economy.

But while voters may have been concerned about federal bureaucracy when they cast their ballots last month, polls still show that they want the government to protect public health and the environment, Jackson said. In the past, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to put those programs in place, she said.

The agency will move forward with rules such as the “toughest smog standards in history,” Jackson said, as well as the agency’s first-ever limits on mercury from cement kilns.

“Some think it’s time to roll back the clock on those advances, but we know that is not what the American people want,” she said. “This is the time to use this agency, built and shaped through bipartisan and nonpartisan actions, to serve this country. We can do that. As easy as it is to tear down, or to roll back, it’s actually only what we build, and what we advance, that lasts beyond elections and politics.”

57 Responses to Weekend News Update: Rise in Canadian flood claims tied to climate change; Lisa Jackson vows to maintain ‘aggressive environmental agenda’

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Munich Re Assesses Risk in Natural Disasters, Human Behavior

    One of the new risks Munich Re is tracking is climate change. The company has the world’s most comprehensive database on natural disasters, with information going back centuries. It shows that the frequency of serious floods worldwide has more than tripled since 1980, while hurricanes and other severe windstorms have doubled.

    “Global warming is real, and it affects our business,” says Peter Hoppe, who heads the company’s climate-change research.

    Munich Re has become a leading advocate for renewable- energy development, even joining a venture that plans to generate solar power in the Sahara and ship it under the Mediterranean to Europe.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    GE, DuPont, Zurich chase $135 billion climate markets

    Seed maker DuPont Co., wind-turbine manufacturer General Electric Co. and insurer Zurich Financial Services AG are devising products to help the world adapt to climate change, a potential $135 billion-a-year market by 2030.

    The companies are driven in part by the failure of international efforts to cut the greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to global warming.

    Damage from climate-related disasters is mounting. Insured losses from storms and floods have risen more than fivefold to $27 billion annually in the past four decades, Swiss Reinsurance Co. said in a September report. By 2030, the world may need to spend $135 billion a year on flood protection, buildings that can withstand hurricanes and drought-resistant crops, Swiss Re said, citing United Nations data.

  3. Esop says:

    It now sure looks like 2010 could break the 1998 record in the UAH dataset.
    The temps were free falling for a while, but are now on the way up again. Back in January we had a situation with much of the NH in a big freeze, but the troposphere temperatures were smashing records (interestingly, it now looks like those high troposphere temps actually helped cause the outbreak of Arctic air).
    Parts of the NH are now back in the freezer, and the UAH temps are once again climbing. This could indicate that a rather high anomaly for December is on the way, and as a result, 2010 could beat 1998.
    I’m not sure if the skeptics have realized what this means. Since it looks like 2010 won’t break the record in the surface datasets, we could have a situation where the much beloved UAH dataset is the only one that places 2010 in the #1 spot. That will for sure cause a lot of head scratching and backpeddling by our “skeptic” friends. Will CRUtemp be their new dataset of choice, since that will likely show the lowest anomaly?
    That will be somewhat ironic, to put it mildly.

    [JR: 2010 likely to be highest in NASA — and CRU, when they fix their errors.]

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Northern Israel wildfires rage on despite outpouring of foreign help; 42 dead

    wildfires that have become pervasive in recent years amid unseasonably high temperatures and periods of drought. In a country of 7 million, there are only 1,500 firefighters.

    This winter has been one of the hottest and driest on record. Jerusalem rabbis this week held a special prayer for rain at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall.

    Fires this year ravaged parts of the disputed Golan Heights and charred nature preserves on Jerusalem’s outskirts. Israel used its entire 200-ton stock of fire-retarding chemicals battling those outbreaks, so it had none on hand when the latest fire erupted.

    The country boasts the region’s most powerful military and is often among the first to send rescue teams to disasters abroad, but it could not handle this fire alone.

    “Our firefighting measures cannot provide an answer to forest fires of this magnitude, especially in the face of such winds. We do not have such equipment,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Friday.

  5. Mike says:

    @Prokaryotes (December 4, 2010 at 10:32 am)

    This is my comment on the Washington Post story:

    mike_midwest wrote:
    Once again we see that climate change is real and becoming dangerous. Step one is to lower income taxes, progressively, and tax or otherwise price GHG emissions.

    This will give people and businesses an incentive to conserve energy and simulate the development of new forms of energy production. (12/4/2010 10:39:21 AM)

  6. Mike says:

    (Forth attempt to post this! It is getting frustrating. Mod: is there some technical glitch going on? Most times my posts go through – sometimes they have to be moderated. Then other times my posts will just disappear.)

    @Prokaryotes (December 4, 2010 at 10:32 am)(#4)

    This is my comment on the Washington Post article.

    mike_midwest wrote:
    Once again we see that climate change is real and becoming dangerous. Step one is to lower income taxes, progressively, and tax or otherwise price GHG emissions.

    This will give people and businesses an incentive to conserve energy and simulate the development of new forms of energy production.
    12/4/2010 10:39:21 AM

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    The system continues to move to the extremes. Perth , and southwest Australia has just set new records for being dry. The eastern portion of Australia set new records being wet, moving further east, New Zealand set new records for drought.

    San Juan, Puerto Rico is setting a new yearly rainfall record, while Daytona Beach has just set a new Sept. to Nov. record for being dry, but North Carolina gets record rain.

    The Amazon record drought, the northern coast of South America record rains.
    The Levant burns , while the Balkans & Italy drown.

  8. Barry says:

    Jackson and the EPA are some of the few climate-security heroes in USA right now.

    Nice to see Ruckelshaus up there too. A GOP climate hawk. Wow now that is an endangered species these days! Most GOP now wallow in the “audacity of “nope” when it comes to protecting our future from increasing climate threats.

    One thought on messaging. Jackson talks about the “toughest smog standards in history” and tightening rules. That is good but probably raises the hackles of small government folks. Perhaps more emphasis on the goal of “cleaner” alongside the tactic of “tough regulation”.

    For example: “America’s air that we all breathe is much cleaner today that in past decades because your EPA has been tough in enforcing the bi-partisan Clean Air Act. But our air is still being polluted by far too many chemicals, from lead to mercury to climate damaging gases. We have made great strides but we still don’t have the clean air Americans thrived on in our past. We have more work to do.”

    One of the tricky points about current pollution is that we have cleaned up much of the easy-to-see stuff. But the invisible stuff is still deadly. The public probably needs to be reminded over and over that our air and waters are still being used as open sewer to dump billions of tons of nasty chemicals that are insidiously affecting our health and world we rely on.

    It gets too easy for people to look out the window, not “see” anything and instead focus on the “government regulations” which is what is talked about.

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    36 Louisiana parishes just declared disaster areas due to drought, Dec. 2009 was the wettest month ever recorded in New Orleans.

  10. Wes Rolley says:

    I have no real data set to back up my suspicion, but it seems to me that the insurance industry is very much threatened economically from climate change. That being the case, we will surely see government bail outs like AIG so that the entire system does not crash again.

    When will this be reflected in their rates? Not very soon, I guess. Much of the rate setting is done at the state level and I would expect political interference to ensure that rates do not reflect the reality. So San Francisco continues to spend money to develop Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay with much of it to be underwater given even the lowest level of SLR forecast.

    Those like the Tea Party Republicans who have railed against the current government bail outs should support efforts to limit this risk to American tax payers… but they won’t. Jared Diamond was right. Ideologues would rather starve to death than eat fish.

    Thankfully, the average elevation in my California home town is 342 ft above sea level.

  11. MapleLeaf says:

    With each passing month it seems like “Climate disruption” is a very appropriate term to describe what we are doing to the biosphere.

    Earlier this week portions of Ontario and Quebec were flirting with breaking rainfall records.

    This is the time of year when they should be potentially breaking snowfall or cold temperature records, not rainfall records.

    In a perverse way, event the unusually cold and snowy weather affecting parts of Europe is partly attributable to the loss of Arctic sea ice (at least according to recent research). Is this a symptom of a transitioning climate or the new norm for them? We’ll have to wait and see.

  12. Esop says:

    #10 (Maple Leaf): It looks like it will be the new norm, at least for what could be quite a long time. The connection between low ice extent and the negative phase of the NAO has been described in papers in the past. Check out the work of for example Seiersted & Bader, and of course, Prof. Overland. Computer models show a clear connection between general warming and the positive phase of the NAO (as we saw from the early 90’s). However, the models show that when ice extent gets low enough (as it is now), it helps forcing the NAO into the negative phase. This continues until the ice extent drops to another limit, forcing the NAO back into the positive mode.

  13. Mimikatz says:

    There won’t have to be a bailout of insurers. Insurance is done anually. Insurers will simply stop insuring certain kinds of losses. That has happened a few times in CA. Then the gov’t will have to either offer insurance as it does for earthquakes in CA and hurricanes in FL or simply spread the risk through taxes and offer more disaster aid. Or tell people to move or fend for themselves.

    But the fact that so many insurers are worried is a sure sign that climate change is upon us.

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    In June 2009 during climate change talks between the United States and China, the secretary of state’s office sent a secret cable warning about email ”spear phishing“ attacks directed at five State Department employees in the Division of Ocean Affairs of the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change.

    The messages, which purport to come from a National Journal columnist, had the subject line ”China and Climate Change.‘` The email contained a PDF file that was intended to install a malicious software program known as Poison Ivy, which was meant to give an intruder complete control of the victim’s computer. That attack failed.–wikileaks-cables-depict-china-as-obsessed-with-google-profile?bn=1

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Republicans Kill Section 1603 Renewable Energy Cash Grants Republicans Kill Section 1603 Renewable Energy Cash Grants

    As part of pushing for tax cuts for the rich, today Republicans filibustered (would not allow an up or down vote on) the Baucus Amendment that would have extended the deadline for solar projects to get a 30% cash grant. Previous story: Solar Cash Grant Extension to be in Saturday’s Tax Cut Vote!

    Here’s some of the renewable energy tax provisions, that congress could have had a chance to vote up or down, if the GOP had not filibustered the entire bill, rather than let the Bush era tax cuts for the rich expire.

    Baucus Amendment 4727: To change the end date from 2010, by extending till December 2011:

    1. Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – cash in lieu of tax credit for businesses not making a profit and unable to take the 30% tax credit

    2. Tax credits for heavy hybrid and natural gas vehicles and a 30% investment tax credit for alternative fuel refueling stations.

    3. Tax breaks for ethanol, 36 cents a gallon for blenders, and 8 cents a gallon for small producers. A 54 cents per gallon tariff on ethanol imports.

    4. A $1-per-gallon production tax credit for biodiesel and biomass diesel and the small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon extended through 2011.

    5. A 50-cent-per-gallon tax credit for biomass and other alternative fuels.

    6. Tax credits for energy-efficient appliances and homes.

    8. Adding $2.5 billion in funding for Section 48C the advanced energy manufacturing 30% tax credit for companies manufacturing advanced clean energy products and materials.

    9. Reinstating the Research and Development tax credit.

    If the entire bill had not been filibustered all Senators would get up or down votes on each of these. The vote to take votes (cloture) on the Baucus Amendment got 53 votes. It needed 60 to get over the usual Republican filibuster.

  16. Prokaryotes says:


    According to Michael Kruse, consultant on nuclear systems for Arthur D. Little, the Chinese are ready to spend $511 billion to build up to 245 reactors.

  17. Bob Lang says:

    Property Insurance issues and extreme weather events are precisely the reason why I sold my typical suburban house last year and moved into a condo apartment near a shopping mall. This year alone there have been 1800 flooded basements and extensive tornado damage in my area.

    Suburban properties could be worthless some day.

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord

    Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord

    – WikiLeaks cables: Cancún climate talks doomed to fail, says EU president
    – Cancún climate change summit: Week one in pictures
    Seeking negotiating chips, the US state department sent a secret cable on 31 July 2009 seeking human intelligence from UN diplomats across a range of issues, including climate change. The request originated with the CIA. As well as countries’ negotiating positions for Copenhagen, diplomats were asked to provide evidence of UN environmental “treaty circumvention” and deals between nations.

    But intelligence gathering was not just one way. On 19 June 2009, the state department sent a cable detailing a “spear phishing” attack on the office of the US climate change envoy, Todd Stern, while talks with China on emissions took place in Beijing. Five people received emails, personalised to look as though they came from the National Journal. An attached file contained malicious code that would give complete control of the recipient’s computer to a hacker. While the attack was unsuccessful, the department’s cyber threat analysis division noted: “It is probable intrusion attempts such as this will persist.”

    The Beijing talks failed to lead to a global deal at Copenhagen. But the US, the world’s biggest historical polluter and long isolated as a climate pariah, had something to cling to. The Copenhagen accord, hammered out in the dying hours but not adopted into the UN process, offered to solve many of the US’s problems.

    I think this is very positive to read the US affords, but they failed apparently … so far. The survival of the species depends on it.
    And denial on the science of climate change is a threat and treason.

  19. Mike says:

    The link below is to a rather odd essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The essay is not as bad as the title. The author is not a climate change skeptic. He is the director of the program in the history and philosophy of science at Florida State University. The essay compares apocalyptic themes in religion and culture and with a series of books on climate change.

    The Doom Boom: Religious roots of environmental Armageddon
    By Michael Ruse

    [JR: Still a pretty mis-framed article.]

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Cars made of gold bump along ruined Russian roads worth billions!

  21. catman306 says:

    “But as Parkinson points out, trees also soak up solar radiation, so the overall effect could be more heat, not less.” – Doom Boom

    That sounds counter-intuitive to me. Can it be true? It’s always cooler in the woods, shade is a wonderful thing on a hot day.

  22. MapleLeaf says:

    Esop @12,

    Thanks. I need to track down those papers. This seems to suggest that the AO/NAO has become “unstable” on account of the ice loss. It will be interesting to see what happens around 2020 when the Arctic may be mostly ice free in the late summer.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Re MapleLeaf

    NASA: Arctic Ocean Could be Mostly Ice Free in 2013

    Note he uses Stephen Schneider’s tipping point analogy.

    [JR: How old is that video?]

  24. Gord says:

    re:21 Tree leaves maintain a max temp and do not go over it.

    The temp maintenance is because photosynthesis requires it. Hotter temps would be a problem for them.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    JR, apparently it’s quiet old :)

    NASA Scientists See Hastened Arctic Warming 09 January 2008

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’ Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2007
    In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly

    “Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.

    “So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”

    Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”

    Arctic poised to see record low sea ice volume this year

    As Arctic sea ice shrinks faster than 2007, NSIDC director Serreze says, “I think it’s quite possible” we could “break another record this year.”

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    “The implication is that this is not a cycle, not just a fluctuation. The loss this year will precondition the ice for the same thing to happen again next year, only worse.

    “There will be even more opening up, even more absorption and even more melting.

    “In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly. It might not be as early as 2013 but it will be soon, much earlier than 2040.”

    The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) collects the observational data on the extent of Arctic sea ice, delivering regular status bulletins. Its research scientist Dr Mark Serreze was asked to give one of the main lectures here at this year’s AGU Fall Meeting.

    Discussing the possibility for an open Arctic ocean in summer months, he told the meeting: “A few years ago, even I was thinking 2050, 2070, out beyond the year 2100, because that’s what our models were telling us. But as we’ve seen, the models aren’t fast enough right now; we are losing ice at a much more rapid rate.

    “My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of.”

    And later, to the BBC, Dr Serreze added: “I think Wieslaw is probably a little aggressive in his projections, simply because the luck of the draw means natural variability can kick in to give you a few years in which the ice loss is a little less than you’ve had in previous years. But Wieslaw is a smart guy and it would not surprise me if his projections came out.”

    Former US Vice President Al Gore cited Professor Maslowski’s analysis on Monday in his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Breaking News — Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss

    We find that simulated western Arctic land warming trends during rapid sea ice loss are 3.5 times greater than secular 21st century climate-change trends. The accelerated warming signal penetrates up to 1500 km inland….

    So the connection with the NAO?

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    9 000 evacuated in Albania floods

    Shkodra – More than 9 000 people were evacuated from their homes in Albania due to floods that have hit the country in the past week, a civil services official said on Saturday.

    “Some 14 000 hectares of farming land are still under water that has blocked and completely isolated several villages in the region of Shkodra endangering people’s lives,” Leonard Olli said.

    At least 1 500 police and soldiers have been deployed in the northern region to help with the evacuation of residents and to secure food for them.

    At least 4 597 houses have been damaged and 2 561 were completely flooded, a police report said.

    Despite repeated calls from the authorities, most villagers in the Shkodra region have refused to leave their homes and abandon their cattle.

    Main entrances into Shkodra are blocked while several parts of the town where the water level is higher than two metres have no electricity.

    “The situation is very difficult,” Albanian President Bamir Topi said in Shkodra.

  30. Jay Alt says:

    Re: the 1st Story in update.

    Rise in flood claims linked to climate change.

    The ending is nice – good storytelling. All the statistics and costs are linked to the experiences of some real people and the potential for future damage is noted.

    Basement woes

    Saint John, N.B., resident Steve Butler says his experience with basement flooding has forced him to be more assertive about protecting his Millidgeville-area home. . . (snip)

    In February 2008, a freezing rain storm flooded Butler’s basement, requiring renovation work that included the installation of a back-flow valve on his home’s wastewater pipe.

    Butler’s insurance company — Allstate — paid for some of the work, but he ended up handing over $2,000 of his own money to complete the plumbing.

    His basement flooded again in August 2009, after heavy rain overwhelmed his new back-flow valve.

    Butler installed a $5,000 lift-station, that he paid for out-of-pocket. When it came time for him to renew his house insurance, Allstate turned him down for flood and water back-up coverage.

    Butler still has house insurance, but his deductible has more than doubled, from $1,000 to $2,500. He also has no financial protection for future flooding.

    Every rain storm now brings a sleepless night, said Butler, but so far the lift station has kept him high and dry.

  31. Malcreado says:

    #21. Yes trees and pretty much everything the sun hits soaks up heat from the sun. Some things reflect it better than others like white roofs that Steven Chu is promoting. Some things also store the heat longer than others, like water (lakes ocean) stores it longer than the land. So the question is how much and how long is the tree going to store versus the sun striking land?
    On another note it is much better to have trees shading your buildings to reduce cooling costs. Something probably done through burning fossil fuels.

  32. Paulm says:

    Are we really going to get survive 0.2C more as a civil society? I don’t think so.

    94% of country affected.

  33. paulm says:

    There is heightened anxiety setting in…anyone fancy a beach front property?

    An Oxford University study that found one-third or 77 Bahamian tourist resorts would be “inundated” by 2050, were a one-metre sea level rise to occur as a result of climate change, produced mixed reactions yesterday, with some suggesting there is “no reason to panic”. while others forecast this nation will be “up the creek without a paddle”.

  34. paulm says:

    Always found it odd that the pacific islands were way ahead of the Carebbean ones in recognizing the impacts of Climate Warming.
    Wonder what the psychology it all. Is it some thing to do with proximity to the US?

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    Tow vessel reaches struggling ship in Bering Sea

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A tug boat pulled a struggling cargo ship carrying half a million gallons of fuel toward a safe harbor Saturday night, greatly easing concerns the vessel could go aground in Alaska’s remote Aleutian Islands.

    He said the vessels were dealing with 20-foot waves but conditions were expected to improve over the next 24 hours.

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    Exclusive: Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico
    Though Region is Healing, Damage From BP Spill Persists on Ocean Floor, Scientists Say

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    WTFUPWIT reports on the climate cables.

  38. Chris Winter says:

    RE: #16 —

    President Hu Jintao wants non-fossil fuels to produce 15 percent of China’s energy by 2020. Although the Chinese have spent plenty on wind turbines and solar panels, only a buildup of nuclear power can make that target reachable.

    “Developing clean, low-carbon energy is an international priority,” says Zhao Chengkun, vice-president of the China Nuclear Energy Association. “Nuclear is recognized as the only energy source that can be used on a mass scale to achieve this.”

    In addition to paying Western companies to build these plants, provide fuel rods, and manage the plants, China aims to learn how to do it all for itself.

    “They are going to use a bunch of different [suppliers] with the goal of being a developer themselves,” says Jeffrey Holzschuh, a Morgan Stanley vice-chairman.

    * * *

    Westinghouse, for example, says it has handed over more than 75,000 technical documents to its Chinese customers as part of its agreement to license reactor technology.

  39. Chris Winter says:
    Don Blankenship Announces Retirement
    VICKI SMITH and MICHAEL FELBERBAUM | 12/3/10 10:38 PM | AP

    RICHMOND, Va. — Massey Energy Chairman and CEO Don Blankenship announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the month, finishing a nearly 30-year career that included big profits for the company but also labor conflicts, battles with federal regulators and a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 people.

    Welcome news? I don’t know. I tend to suspect he’s seen the writing on the wall and plans to get while the getting is good.

  40. MapleLeaf says:

    Prokaryotes and Esop,

    Thanks for all the links!

  41. Bob Lang says:

    Chris Winter # 44

    “Developing clean, low-carbon energy is an international priority,” says Zhao Chengkun, vice-president of the China Nuclear Energy Association. “Nuclear is recognized as the only energy source that can be used on a mass scale to achieve this.”

    Tell this to the Germans and other European countries who are committed to phasing out their nuclear power stations, mostly because of nuclear waste disposal issues.

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate change fans deep-burning fires in Alaska

    – Climate change is fanning longer- and deeper-burning fires in interior Alaska, changing the area from a carbon sink — where planet-warming gases are stored naturally in the soil — to a carbon emitter, scientists reported on Sunday.

    The shift has occurred within the last 10 years and is due in large part to a longer burning season, according to a study published in Nature Geosciences.

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    U.S. President Barack Obama made a “big mistake” in pushing health-care legislation before climate change, billionaire Ted Turner said today.

    “We would have an energy climate change bill in the United States if President Obama had made that his top priority and brought that to the American people and Congress first rather than the health-care bill,” Turner, founder of Time Warner Inc.’s CNN, said today at a conference in Cancun, Mexico. “But he didn’t, and I think it was a big mistake.”

    Obama, who campaigned on a promise to fight climate change, made the economy, health care, energy and education his top priorities after taking office. Health-care legislation was signed into law earlier this year after contentious debate while a “cap-and-trade” bill to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions stalled in the Senate. Obama now says he doubts such a measure can win passage until 2013 at the earliest.

    “The climate bill is much more important than health care because the climate situation is about life and death whereas the health-care bill was much more limited,” Turner, 72, said.

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    Mayan village in Mexico impacted by climate change
    (AP) – 3 hours ago

    TABI, Mexico (AP) — The first time Araceli Bastida Be heard the phrase “climate change” was on TV two years ago. Then she began to understand why strange things had been happening in her village.
    Tabi was in its second year of drought, and the corn that sustains the village was left stunted on the stalks. Farmers couldn’t bear the midday heat anymore, and were in their fields at dawn in order to finish before noon.
    After a half-mile (1-kilometer) walk from school, Bastida Be’s son would return home with headaches. Summer nights were too hot to sleep until after midnight. And winters were so cold the villagers had to buy blankets.
    A year earlier, Hurricane Dean reached deep into Mexico’s rain forest, destroying Tabi’s beehives and blowing down several thatched-roof homes.
    “We don’t know what’s going on. All we know is that something has changed,” says Bastida Be, 31, who tends her own corn crop while her husband is away working in construction jobs on the coast.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    This year, in a further sign of the erratic conditions, the spring rains returned to Tabi in a deluge: nearly 14 inches (350 millimeters) in the planting month of May, about 10 times more than last year.

    “Thirty years ago my grandfather worked two hectares (5 acres). Now we need five for the same amount of food. That’s how we measure the difference,” Candelario De Pat, 64, told a small group of visiting reporters in a field with stalks reaching 12 feet (4 meters) high.

    “The government doesn’t support us,” said villager Gerardo Bastida Tolentina. “It doesn’t pay attention to the rural areas.”

  46. catman306 says:

    What is it the financial people say?

    “Past performance is no predictor of future performance.” If all the ditto heads, tea partiers, and other denialists can accept this statement and how it applies to themselves, why can’t they see that

    Past climate is not a predictor of future climate?

  47. catman306 says:

    Chris Winter, there was a comment a few days ago that said that India is buying Massey Coal, Peabody Coal and another coal company to insure their supply of the black diamonds. Wasn’t Obama in India last month? Couldn’t be related, you suppose? All of that mountain top removal and dangerous mining practices makes me have a really low opinion of Mr. Blankenship. Reminds of a serial rapist that sells videos of his crimes.

    Leave the coal in the ground and no one will burn it.

  48. paulm says:

    It seems like the Eaarth has the sweats or is trying to flush us out….

  49. Mike says:

    Northern Wildfires Threaten Runaway Climate Change, Study Reveals
    [The title is a bit extreme in my view. But any positive feedback is a very real concern.]

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2010) — Climate change is causing wildfires to burn more fiercely, pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than previously thought, according to a new study to be published in Nature Geoscience this week.

  50. Prokaryotes says:

    GOP to abolish House panel on global warming

    But Democrats say House Republicans — who, as the incoming majority party had the authority to ax the panel — are being dangerously shortsighted by ignoring problems regarding the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and the climate-change issue.

    “Disbanding the select committee does not diminish the urgent need to act on these very critical issues,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

    Democrats dismiss Republican accusations that the committee was irrelevant, saying that since its creation — and subsequent influence — the House passed laws to increase vehicle fuel efficiency for the first time in more than 30 years and sweeping climate-change legislation.

    Democrats add that the panel played an important role in holding BP accountable after one of the oil company’s Gulf of Mexico rigs exploded last spring, ensuring that the public had access to all pertinent information about the resulting oil spill and cleanup.

  51. paulm says:

    Heres the radio podcast on the first article above….pretty good.
    Media and insurance industry is onboard now. The laggard government is not far behind.