March 11 News: NY Times Editorial Makes The Climate Case Against Keystone

Tar sands oil (Photo credit: Water Defense)

This morning’s editorial in the New York Times says the overriding reason President Obama should reject the Keystone XL pipeline is climate change. [New York Times]

“The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.”

It goes on to say that the assessment

“… fails to consider the cumulative year-after-year effect of steadily increasing production from a deposit that is estimated to hold 170 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered with today’s technology and may hold 10 times that amount altogether. It is these long-term consequences that Mr. Obama should focus on. Mainstream scientists are virtually unanimous in stating that the one sure way to avert the worst consequences of climate change is to decarbonize the world economy by finding cleaner sources of energy while leaving more fossil fuels in the ground. Given its carbon content, tar sands oil should be among the first fossil fuels we decide to leave alone.”

India’s breakneck pace of industrialisation is causing a public health crisis with 80-120,000 premature deaths and 20m new asthma cases a year due to air pollution from coal power plants, a Greenpeace report warns. [UK Guardian]

API and the Chamber of Commerce will be coordinating rallies and running “grassroots” campaigns across the country following the draft State department review of Keystone. [The Hill]

A new study finds that climate change is causing seasons in the Arctic to be more like those in southern regions. [Ottawa Citizen]

Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Chief of US Pacific forces, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet his biggest worry.[Boston Globe]

Wonkblog asks ‘Can the world fight climate change and energy poverty at the same time?’ and finds the two goals are in tension with each other, but can be done. [Washington Post]

Two years after the Fukishima accident, the Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a report saying nearly one in six U.S. nuclear reactors experienced safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight. [Wall Street Journal]

Global climate change means portions of the Antarctic have less ice, which in turn means there’s less food to eat for Adelie penguins. [NBC News]

A study looking into the effectiveness of different batteries has found that the environmental savings from switching over may be negligible until better storage technology is developed. []

A report in Nature Geoscience looked at rainfall data between 1979 and 2010 and found that the wet seasons were already clearly getting wetter while the dry seasons became drier. [Climate Central]

18 Responses to March 11 News: NY Times Editorial Makes The Climate Case Against Keystone

  1. Camburn says:

    The pipeline will be built.

  2. Sasparilla says:

    I am stunned that the NYTimes Editorial board in a straightforward manner espouses Dave Robert’s observation that we “at the very lease we have to stop making it worse…”.

    Love that article:

    My hat is off to the NYTimes Editorial board for this one – they came through and said the XL should be canceled and it should be for climate change reasons period.

    Some common sense on a big money backed tar sands pipeline coffin nail, which the administration was obviously prepping for approval, in a national newspaper editorial page on climate change grounds.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    We’ve seen this before. If Times editors can write good editorials like this, why do they insist on absent or flawed climate coverage from their reporters?

    This editorial does not let them off the hook, and makes them worse in a way. Editorials function as the paper’s conscience, and are more lightly read than news stories. What they are saying is that “We know global warming is a critical issue for people’s survival, but keeping our jobs and advertising revenue is more important. We will continue to ignore and distort coverage for the suckers, and show hipper readers that we don’t mean it”.

    This is worse than Murdoch in a way. At least with them you know what you’re getting, and in spite of that USA Today sometimes runs better climate stories than the Times.

    Someone needs to write Sulzberger and Times editors and show them how to spell “educate the public”, “truth”, and “responsibilities of a free press”.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    To add to the Wired article on storage technologies (not batteries per se) for use with renewable energy sources – best performance was compressed air (not a radical technology & one that could be implemented many places) then pumped water then batteries, here’s an article with a diagram from the study:

    “Stanford study quantifies energetic costs of grid-scale energy storage over time; current batteries the worst performers; the need to improve cycle life by 3-10x”

    Basically it comes down to this with batteries, the existing batteries (Li in particular) have short cycle life (which means how many times you can charge and discharge them before they start loosing serious amounts of capacity).

    It’s interesting that the study looked at all these battery technologies (even old Lead Acid and exotic sulfur) but did not look at NiMH (what is in the Toyota Prius), which if managed properly in its charge discharge cycles, can have this 3x or greater cycle life without issues (which is why Prius’s can go driving around past 200,000 miles without serious capacity degradation of their NiMH cells). NiMH would have looked much better than any of the other battery tech. That said compressed air sounds like a good technology to move forward on based on air’s availability.

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Interesting, Sasparilla. How could the Stanford people overlook modern battery tech? There are only three explanations: They just overlooked it, they found some kind of flaw in Prius type batteries, or they are just from Stanford, which gets huge amounts of funding from the oil companies. Disclosure: I’m from Cal.

  6. Sasparilla says:

    I know…I didn’t want to say “the fix was in here”, but it definitely seems like a huge blunder (how could you miss it, you can buy NiMH at the hardware store), especially when they were considering battery types that really haven’t been used much like Sulfur.

    On a related note (almost answering the study’s call for better batteries on the cycle capacity front, beside NiMH) is this research:

    New aqueous rechargeable lithium battery shows good safety, high reliability, high energy density and low cost; another post Li-ion alternative

    This type has much better cycle life than Li ion batts (vehicle life length) and significantly higher capacity (and will supposedly be cheap). There’s alot of money invested in creating better batteries (much more than 15 years ago), at some point we’re going to get one of these to payoff and it’ll be off to the races for plugins.

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    outstanding on the NYT. Turning of a new leaf for sensible msm.

    If only this was happening 15yrs ago…

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    Bring on 1.5C….

    Climate Chaos shared a link.

    Farmers walk away as finance and climate dry up
    Farmers in the Wheatbelt are experiencing Great Depression conditions as both finance and crops dry up, with some leaving keys on the table and walking away. Check out this special ABC Online report.

    He says the problem has been brewing for a number of years as unreliable seasons persist.

    “So we’re really in a situation where it’s getting close to catastrophic.”

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    We really should be focusing on 1.5C, really. May be even 1C. Do we not feel that we are in a state of emergency?

  10. SecularAnimist says:

    It is self-evident that the current anthropogenic excess of greenhouse gases is already dangerous, and is in fact already causing massive damage, and is already guaranteed to cause much worse damage.

    So what is the use of “focusing” on any particular future temperature target or GHG concentration?

    Whichever target you choose, our task is exactly the same: eliminating anthropogenic GHG emissions, and drawing down the already dangerous excess, as rapidly as possible.

  11. Paul Magnus says:

    Focusing on this would mean leaders standing up and saying we have an emergency. The majority of the public does not see or understand that this as an emergency.

    It would give our leaders a mandate for wwII action. Power to for instance… to nationalize fossil fuel industry.

    We are well past the stage now where cap n trade and carbon pricing is going to work on their own. We are at a stage were we need people to come up with a plan that directly move us off fossil fuels and on to clean energy and to start to implement.

  12. Paul Magnus says:

    “the global economy would be paralyzed without insurance lubricating commerce. And since the insurance industry is also a major institutional investor—to the tune of $5 trillion—bad bets on companies exposed to climate change risk could erode insurers’ own balance sheets and their ability to cope with multiple Sandy’s in the years to come. Not to mention liability from litigation arising from customers such as power plant operators whose emissions contribute to climate change.”

  13. What, and no retort from Joe Nocera yet? I am waiting for the business writers of America to start treating energy as a subset of the climate story rather than just looking at the way energy costs affect the rest of the economy. Maybe a weekly climate segment on Nightly Business Report or a series of Jim Cramer rants on CNBC;’s Mad Money. Then we will know that the tide has turned.

  14. Sasparilla says:

    Ahh, Nocera was concentrating on his next piece to tear down Dr. Jim Hansen, since Nocera (a former business reporter) would better know what the earth’s climate really needs.

  15. Ken Barrows says:

    I don’t know. Is the Tesla Roadster’s 6,800+ batteries really a climate solution?

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    And Mr.Remington’s Monkey will celebrate.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, indeed-they are cynically ‘greenwashing’ themselves, that’s all. Murdoch’s sewer rag, ‘The Australian’, while remaining the absolute epicentre of denialism here, and of opposition to renewable energy, still has the gall to occasionally publish sullage to the effect that they are ‘striving’ to become ‘carbon neutral’. In Dante’s Inferno, the Malebolge, the eight circle of Hell, is divided into ten Bolgias, or ‘ditches’. When it comes to the Murdochites one wonders whether they are destined for Bolgia Six, the eternal home for ‘Hypocrites’, or perhaps Bolgia Eight, reserved for ‘Deceivers’, or Bolgia Ten, the resting place of ‘Falsifiers’ might be more appropriate. Or perhaps, since Dante’s day they may have had to construct an Eleventh Bolgia, reserved particularly for Murdochites, in that their sins represent a concatenation of all these, and more.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Where I live the dryness is quite amazing, there having been no decent rains for months. The heat has been wretched, allied in recent days with high humidity, yet no rain results. You can just tell that the epic drought has returned, after a brief hiatus of a year or two, and dread that the next leg down will be even more pitiless. I suspect that the deranged phantasies of Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott, that Australia, with its pitiful soils and water resources, will become a ‘food-bowl’ will soon be seen as totally insane.