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August 11 News: 2,000 Unhealthy Air Alerts in 2011; TransCanada CEO Plans to Ruin the Climate Even Without Tar Sands Pipeline

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"August 11 News: 2,000 Unhealthy Air Alerts in 2011; TransCanada CEO Plans to Ruin the Climate Even Without Tar Sands Pipeline"

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A round-up of recent climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.

Report details 2,000 unhealthy air alerts in 2011

You may have thought bad air pollution was on the way out, but not so. A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council counts more than 2,000 code orange alerts in U.S. communities and national parks from Jan. 1 to early August.

Code orange means the air’s too unhealthy for people with lung disease, older adults and children. NRDC, a pro-environmental advocacy group, is hoping the Environmental Protection Agency will consider this as they prepare to release new clean air standards.

“Too many Americans are breathing unhealthy air this year,” says the NRDC’s John Walke. “Orange is the dividing line between whether people play outside or decide to stay indoors that day.”

One reason for the high numbers may be the extreme heat waves over much of the country. In 1994, another year with lots of heat waves, it “was a notorious example of a bad air year. I’m betting this year will be a notorious year too,” he says.

Kids and parents clash on climate change

Australian kids are clashing with their parents over the importance of climate change, a survey has found.

The survey, by research groups Bayer and the CSIRO, found one in three families disagree on the importance of climate change with one in five parents saying they didn’t believe in climate change.

“It is encouraging to see that children are taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and using it to educate their parents on how to reduce their carbon footprint,” Peta Ashworth, from the CSIRO’s Science into Society Group, said today.

“When it comes to young Australians and their knowledge of the environment, it is clear the work done in schools is creating some healthy debates about sustainability and being green at home.”

The survey, which sought the views of 1000 parents and children aged 10-16, found that kids were helping their parents to reduce their carbon footprint with 46 per cent of parents saying their kids encouraged them to recycle rubbish and 27 per cent saying they were encouraged by their offspring to take shorter showers.

TransCanada CEO: Oil sands will be developed with or without pipeline

The CEO of the company lobbying to build a pipeline bringing Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refiners has a warning for green groups opposing the project: The oil sands will be developed with or without expanded U.S. imports.

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling spoke to Platts as the State Department is mulling whether to approve the company’s $7 billion, 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline – a project that’s drawing vigorous opposition from environmental groups.

“Make no mistake, that resource is getting developed. It’s the single-greatest driver of the Canadian economy. If the US doesn’t want the oil, then somebody else will,” he told the energy news service.

Make no mistake, the tar sands are “the biggest global warming crime ever seen.”  See also, James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts”

Army Forms Unit to Manage Development of Renewable Power Plants

The U.S. Army is forming a task force to work with developers that may spend as much as $7.1 billion over the next decade to build renewable power plants at U.S. military sites.

The Energy Initiatives Office Task Force is expected to be established by Sept. 15, the Army said today in a statement.

The task force will help the Army reach a target of getting 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, Army Secretary John McHugh said today in a conference call.

“This is the right thing to do for the environment in this era of diminishing resources and the right thing to do for federal taxpayers,” McHugh said.

The projects will be about 10 megawatts in size, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack said during the call. She didn’t say what renewable sources they would use or when they will be built.

Scientists head to Arctic Ocean to track acidification

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will embark next week on an expedition to monitor acidification trends in the Arctic Ocean linked to carbon emissions, the agency said on Wednesday.

The USGS scientists will spend seven weeks on a Coast Guard icebreaker, getting as close to the North Pole as possible to take water samples and test for chemical indicators of acidification, officials said.

Carbon emissions are blamed for altering the chemistry of the world’s oceans by making them more acidic, which makes it more difficult for fish and other sea life to grow and live.

The Arctic Ocean is considered especially vulnerable to acidification because of the cold temperatures and already-low level of calcium saturation, Lisa Robbins, a USGS oceanographer going on the trip, said in an interview.

US doling out funds for clean fuel technology

The Obama administration on Wednesday said it will give more than $175 million to car companies and research centers to spur clean auto technology and production of advanced car batteries.

The announcement came ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to a battery factory in Michigan, and followed the introduction of the country’s new standards for auto fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Department of Energy is investing in new advanced technologies that will significantly improve vehicle fuel economy, save consumers money, and create skilled jobs for Americans,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement on Wednesday.

Obama tries to change subject back to green jobs

After spending weeks talking about topics he probably would have preferred to avoid — debt limits, deficits, a plunging stock market — President Obama will hit the road Thursday to talk about jobs. Specifically, about how his administration is trying to create more of them.

Obama is scheduled to tour a factory in Holland, Mich., that makes advanced automobile batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles for Johnson Controls. The administration is eager to tout the company’s recent growth, spurred in part by a $299 million federal grant.

In June, Johnson Controls announced it would expand a facility in Toledo, a $6 million upgrade that could add 50 jobs. All told, the company has said its advanced battery operations could create 500 new positions.

The White House said in a statement that Obama plans to highlight “the key role innovative technologies will play in helping automakers achieve the historic fuel economy standards, establishing U.S. leadership in advanced vehicle manufacturing, spurring economic growth and creating high-quality domestic jobs in cutting edge industries across America.”

EPA hails Obama’s fuel initiative

More efficient trucks on U.S. roads means less pollution in the air and lower energy usage, the top official at the Environmental Protection Agency said.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced that trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

By 2018, the standards are expected to cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 percent for big rigs and semis, 15 percent for heavy-duty pickups and 10 percent for vehicles such as school buses and garbage trucks.

“More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

 

Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

  • mtmariner101 (signed in using Yahoo)

Of course Canada will develop the tar sands and sell to whoever is buying. If the US does not want it I’ll bet they can find another customer. I’ll bet Canada will not have to look hard to find a replacement. However, the fight where the US might make a difference is the fight against exporting US coal to the Asia market (China). It looks like China’s growing demand will easily outpace production from all other sources. “Now turning attention back to China’s coal needs. South Africa alone cannot satisfy China, nor can Australia. The only country with the capability to supply China’s extra coal needs, is the USA. Currently U.S. coal is traded at far below international market price…” China’s relentless demand and the pressure to sell US coal on the world market will create tremendous pressure to build the new coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest. You can’t stop Canada form profiting from tar sand but you might have an impact on the US coal industry.

Quote is from.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/285593-white-gold-black-gold-and-china-s-energy-crisis

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 12:45pm

Barry Saxifrage · Top Commenter

I agree that exporting dirty fossil fuels to carbon-unregulated economies is the game afoot in Big Fossil these days. I disagree that the dynamics are different around Canada-oilsands vs USA-coal. If, as you say, Canada is going to develop and sell its oilsands then you can be sure the USA is going to develop and sell its coal. Exact same issues in two nations linked strongly in climate policy. Hansen says both coal and unconventional oil have to stay in the ground. These aren’t different battles.

1 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 1:51pm

  • mtmariner101 (signed in using Yahoo)

You are right, the battles are the same but I think the leverage is different. I was thinking about it in reference to the US protest of the pipeline and the tremendous support the Canadian government provides for the entire tar sand industry. Support for coal and coal exports are a little different in the US. I don’t think that US refusal to import Canadian tar sand will influence that industry much but a coordinated effort might stop the proposed new coal terminals. Currently the US exports coal without the new terminals but Big Coal interests want to vastly increase the tonnage, the pollution, and the profits. If we can keep US coal companies from becoming entrenched in the export market we have a much better chance of eventually ending coal used for energy in the US and we can make coal much more expensive for importing nations.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 2:20pm

Bill Walker · Top Commenter · San Marcos, California

I’m glad to see there’s no comment thread on the story in the Australian about kids teaching their parents about climate change. If there were, readers would no doubt be subjected to spurious claims about schools “indoctrinating our children”. I’m actually rather surprised to see that story in Murdoch’s Australian at all without some anti-science slant added. See Deltoid’s documentation of the “The Australian’s War on Science”: <http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/the_war_on_science/>.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 12:18pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

fracking
Six of seven fracking committee members have ties to natural gas industry.
http://www.grist.org/list/2011-08-11-six-of-seven-fracking-committee-members-have-ties-to-natural-gas

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:29pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

well spotted mate!

1 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 3:58pm

  • Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

It all comes down to who you follow on twitter :D There are so much news items lately i have a hard time following all these stories.. should be a good sign!

Like · Reply · August 11 at 3:59pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Obama should have been concentrating on the climate from the start!

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 11:34am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Begins now

LIVE TWITTER CHAT w/@billmckibben @naomiaklein @drgrist @sarahvangelder @ash_anderson @janekleeb @agent350 http://t.co/ddRlFcQ 8pEDT #nokxl.
http://www.tarsandsaction.org/twitter-chat/

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 7:39pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Greenpeace film competition: turning the cameras on VW http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/greenpeace-film-competition-turning-cameras-vw-20110805.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:37pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/11/thaiair-results-idUSL3E7I71JP20110811

Get you flying in quickly…

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:04pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Heat Wave Renews Call for Renewable Energy.
Solar and wind could do the job more efficently, advocates say http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2011-08-12/heat-wave-renews-call-for-renewable-energy/.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 2:54pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Researcher finds largest martian channels most likely formed by volcanic activity (w/ video) http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-largest-martian-channels-volcanic-video.html.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:39pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Buy an electric car, get a steep discount on the rooftop solar panels required to charge it http://www.grist.org/list/2011-08-11-buy-an-electric-car-get-a-steep-discount-on-the-rooftop-solar-pa.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:36pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Evidence is in, Monckton the Pathological Liar http://climateforce.net/2011/08/11/evidence-is-in-monckton-the-pathological-liar/.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:35pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

How we know we’re causing global warming, in one handy graphic http://www.grist.org/list/2011-08-11-how-we-know-were-causing-global-warming-in-one-handy-graphic.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:37pm

charlesnathansiegel (signed in using Yahoo)

There is some chance that demonstrations plus science will shame Canada into not developing their tar sands.

People today saying that Canada will develop their tar sands, no matter what, are like people decades ago saying that South Africa will continue apartheid, no matter what.

International moral pressure does have an impact.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:01pm

Barry Saxifrage · Top Commenter

Well put. And of course increasingly freaky and destructive weather is a bit of marketing problem for the “ethical oil” folks. Make that “ethical turmoil”.

Anyone who thinks the public isn’t going to reign in GHGs in the face of the ever increasing weather hammer is in deep denial. The oilsands won’t be able to escape the reality that exploiting them means pressing the accelerator on the weather. The folks pouring billions into the oilsands are producing a clearly dangerous product and as a result are going to lose their money. Investor beware.

1 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 1:33pm

Shaheer Cassim · Victoria, British Columbia

Climate Change needs to be reframed for what it really is: An ability to grow food without it being destroyed by wind, fire, heavy rain, pests, and drought.

Now that we’ve burnt away all our natural gas and oil, we won’t have petrochemicals, pesticides, and fertilizer either.

And desertification will steal our arable topsoil, which is already a mostly dead crust due to industrial farming.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 9:47pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

@JustinNOAA Justin Kenney.
Waco has tied all-time record for consecutive 100-degree days at 42 1.usa.gov/19wFAE Dallas 2 days away from its record.
https://twitter.com/#!/JustinNOAA/status/101696488974983169

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:40pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Vegetables aren’t as nutritious as they used to be http://www.grist.org/food/2011-08-02-not-your-grandmas-strawberries.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 2:38pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Donald Davis, a scientist retired from the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues published a study in 2004 comparing U.S. Department of Agriculture data on vegetable nutrients from 1950 to data from 1999, and found notable decreases, particularly for key nutrients like calcium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 2:42pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

NASA data shed light on the persistent heat over Texas and Oklahoma.
http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/featured-items/Heat_wave_in_Texas

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:33pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

The oil sands will be developed with or without expanded U.S. imports” it’s going to have to be a fist fight….

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 11:35am

Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

China is a big enough market they don’t need the US.

1 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 12:58pm

Nicholas Berini · Hoboken, New Jersey

It’s about the economics – it MIGHT still work to ship all the oil to china. But providing a nice huge pipeline to refineries in the US all but guarantees the tar sands are utilized.

Best Case: prevent tar sands
Medium Case: make it more expensive
Worst Case: do nothing about it

2 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 1:26pm

Barry Saxifrage · Top Commenter

I agree Wesley that China and everyone else want the energy that comes from burning oil sands. However China and everyone else also do *not* want a weather system that is so revved up, destructive and unpredictable that it makes life an increasing struggle.

We see like glimpses of that destabilized and energized weather system emerging now and people are getting hammered. It is just going to get worse and worse until we leave the remain fossil fuels in the ground. There is no future that involves burning all the oil sands. Its a giant carbon bubble, and extreme weather is going to pop it.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 1:40pm

View 3 more

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Last month, a boat with 379 large sharks in its hull was caught red-handed in Galapagos National Park, a marine protected area and U.N. World Heritage Site. The catch included bigeye thresher, blue, Galapagos, hammerhead, tiger, and mako sharks, most of them with their fins cut and nearly detached, suggesting they were likely killed for the growing fin trade. Each shark might have been sold for as much as $2,000 at an Ecuadorian port. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dnewman/news_from_the_deep_august_11_1.html

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:52pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

LOL!

Exclusive: David Cameron and the Bullingdon night of the broken window.
http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/04/exclusive-david-cameron-and-the-bullingdon-night-of-the-broken-window/#ixzz1Uk8vplrv

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:41pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

36 Million Pounds of Salmonella-Tainted Proof that Our Food Safety System is Broken http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_23763.cfm.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:52pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Food commodities prices surge http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/744f1a34-c438-11e0-ad9a-00144feabdc0,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F744f1a34-c438-11e0-ad9a-00144feabdc0.html&_i_referer#axzz1UkdQY0Sh.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:54pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

ALEC’s creepy influence in Wisconsin (with recall angle!) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/09/1004783/-ALECs-creepy-influence-in-Wisconsin-%28with-recall-angle!%29.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:51pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

@climatebrad Brad Johnson.
RT @TP_Green: Katrina Was The First $100 Billion Hurricane http://thkpr.gs/nxaCAR #green #katrina for @TheHarryShearer @WhoDat35.
https://twitter.com/#!/climatebrad/status/101694224466059264

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 1:42pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

@capitalweather Capital Weather Gang.
Comprehensive look at D.C.’s drought & Sunday deluge potential: wapo.st/pjq34B.
https://twitter.com/#!/capitalweather/status/101739692428509184

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:55pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Climate Central: Philadelphia’s Hot New Normal http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,1102752168001_2087857,00.html.

Doesn’t load for me…

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 2:35pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

On thin ice.
The most recent global climate report fails to capture the reality of the changing Arctic seascape, according to MIT researchers. http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/arctic-ice-melt-0810.html

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:29pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Texas Petroleum Investment Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/AE1E8EF193EF7D11852578E90064ADFD.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:25pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

A Climate of Confusion for 2012 Presidential Hopefuls http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gene-karpinski/gop-2012-climate_b_924321.html.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 2:42pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Ford, SunPower To Offer Solar-Powered Cars http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110810-722507.html.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 3:27pm

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