Eight Nobel peace laureates on Wednesday urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an open letter to halt the expansion of the Alberta oil sands.
“Further exploitation of the tar sands will dramatically increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being produced in North America,” said the letter, signed by South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, Jodi Williams of the United States, and others.
“It will also ultimately make turning the clock back on climate change impossible.”
And so, “we are calling on you to use your power to halt the expansion of the tar sands, and ensure that Canada moves towards a clean energy future,” they said to Harper.
Acting to curb greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, they added, is a “profoundly moral decision, one that deserves to be placed alongside any other major struggle in human history.”
The letter comes two days after federal police arrested 117 protestors for storming Canada’s parliament to protest Ottawa’s support for a $7 billion pipeline to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to the US Gulf Coast.
Climate change will cause damage in Canada equivalent to around 1 percent of GDP in 2050 as rising temperatures kill off forests, flood low-lying areas and cause more illnesses, an official panel said on Thursday.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said Canada’s Conservative government – strongly criticized by green activists for not doing enough to fight global warming – should take measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, blamed on greenhouse gas emissions.
The northern regions of Canada, the world’s second largest country, are warming up at a much faster pace than the rest of the Earth.
“Climate change presents a growing, long-term economic burden for Canada,” said the NRTEE, which the government set up in 1988 to provide advice on environmental issues.
According to the most likely scenario outlined by the panel, the damage done by global warming would be between 0.8 percent and 1 percent of GDP by 2050 and could hit almost 2.5 percent by 2075.
You can find the NTREE study here. The key figure is on page 41 — but that isn’t the plausible worst-case for Canada. Note that the study finds, “A small but not impossible chance of costs reaching over $150 billion per year in 2050 exists.“ In 2075, “there would be a 5% chance of costs exceeding $546 billion and a 1% chance of costs exceeding $820 billion.”
What NTREE considers a 5% case, many might consider a much more likely case — see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces.”
By now the financial, political, and emotional fallout from the recent Solyndra bankruptcy filing is running at full tilt. Print, online, and social media channels are filled with the appropriate questions about what happened — who’s responsible, who’s accountable, and who’s going to pay for it? Incumbent energy providers, including coal and oil, along with many politicians are cynically rushing to tout this event as the beginning of the end for renewable energy, while others see Solyndra’s collapse as merely a singular event that is part of an inevitable macro-trend toward a 21st century clean economy.
However, in reality, Solyndra was not the entire solar industry. It was just a manufacturer and supplier to the industry. Citing Solyndra as a grave indicator of the end of the solar industry is like noting that the demise of Goodyear would end the auto industry. As long as solar makes economic sense; systems will continue to be deployed.
So how about we all take a breath, step back, and look at what’s happening in the bigger picture that is the global energy business.
There are no silver solar bullets to America’s energy needs — but there is solar buckshot.
Solar Buckshot, aka Top 10 Reasons Why Solar Energy Will Win
A new study by researchers from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has explored the possibility that many of the world’s organisms may shrink in size as a result of continued global warming.
This study relates to the ‘temperature-size rule’ which describes how individuals of cold-blooded organisms reach a smaller adult size when they are born and raised in a warmer climate.
The study was published in the journal The American Naturalist and authored by Dr. Andrew Hirst and colleagues from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, thanks to funding provided by the Natural Environment Research Council.
The study was carried out using data collected over 40 years on marine planktonic copepods, tiny crustaceans that are the main animal plankton in our planet’s oceans. These little animals themselves graze on smaller plankton and are a food source for larger fish, birds and marine mammals.
The results showed that the rate at which these crustaceans grew – how fast they acquired mass – and the rate at which they developed – how fast an individual animal passes through the various stages of life – are consistently decoupled across a whole range of species, “with development being more sensitive to temperature than growth.”
If President Obama looks out at demonstrators circling the White House on Nov. 6, he’ll be receiving a message: The nation’s Greens are seeing red.
“It’s symbolic that this will be one year before the 2012 election,” Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview during a Seattle visit.
The peaceful circle-the-White House protest will be in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, a 1,711-mile pipeline designed to carry carbon-laden oil from the oil sands of northern Alberta to refineries in Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The U.S. State Department has ruled that the project will have no significant environmental impact: Its conclusion is being furiously debated at hearings now underway along the planned pipeline route in Montana and Nebraska.
Approval or rejection of the pipeline “is President Obama’s decision — it is his and his alone to make,” said Beinecke, who served on the National Commission to Investigate the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Labor unions are for the pipeline, echoing builders’ claims that it will create 20,000 jobs. Montana’s Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer supports the project. Leading Nebraska politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, fear for their aquifer and oppose it.
The Energy Department announced Wednesday that is has finalized more than $1 billion in loan guarantees for two separate solar energy projects.
The decision comes several weeks after Solyndra, a California-based solar manufacturer that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration in 2009, filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers, setting off a firestorm in Washington.
DOE announced a $737 million loan guarantee to help finance construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110-megawatt solar-power-generating facility in Nye County, Nev. The project is sponsored by Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve.
The Energy Department said the project will result in 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs.
The White House is looking to recapture political momentum on green energy that’s been blunted by the collapse of the stimulus-backed California solar energy company Solyndra.
The Energy Department on Thursday will announce the next round of projects to be funded through its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
“This fourth round of ARPA-E project selections focuses on transformational, breakthrough technologies in rare earth alternatives, biofuels, thermal storage, electronic grid controls, and solar power electronics,” DOE stated in an advisory.
Separately, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and officials from the departments of Commerce and Energy, along with other agencies, will announce funding winners under the i6 Green Challenge.