October 19 News: 36 Lawmakers Berate State Dept, Calling it a “Cheerleader” For Keystone XL Pipeline

Other big story below: Top Ten Clean Energy Breakthroughs?

Image: DeSmogBlog

36 Lawmakers Berate State Department on Keystone Pipeline

With a decision expected by the end of the year from the Obama administration on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, members of Congress have sent two letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raising concerns over the State Department’s handling of a critical environmental review of the project.

A letter sent late last week by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and two Vermont senators, Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders, criticized the State Department for assigning the review of Keystone XL to a consulting firm with financial ties to the pipeline’s operator and urged the federal government to start the process all over again.

The letter cited a New York Times article published this month that said the State Department used Cardno Entrix, a Houston-based consulting firm, at the suggestion of TransCanada, which is seeking to build the 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

As arranged with the State Department, Cardno Entrix was paid by TransCanada to conduct the study. TransCanada has also paid the company to conduct previous environmental reviews of its projects, one of which Cardno Entrix did not disclose to the State Department.

Although such practices have become commonplace over the years, some experts in environmental law have said the State Department should have been more cautious about whom it hired it for the environmental study to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest on a project that has created so much controversy.

South Africa’s New Climate Policy to Curb Industry Emissions

A new South African climate change policy curbing industry emissions will give the country leverage when it hosts the next round of global climate talks, the environment minister said Tuesday.The National Climate Change Response Policy, which was approved by cabinet last week, cuts “business as usual” emissions growth by 34 percent in the next decade and 42 percent by 2025, and will introduce limits on heavy polluters in two years.

“The policy as concluded now… is really going to give us quite a whole lot of leverage,” minister Edna Molewa told journalists.

“We are not necessarily going to be waving that document in there but just to illustrate … that as a country we are being really very serious as one of the high emitters, amongst the high emitters of the world, taking action.”

Specific reduction targets will follow within two years for big emitters such as the electricity and liquid fuel sector and users in mining, industry and transport.

The department did not say if the limits would be binding.

“We mustn’t see these as a stick or a carrot. It’s a target for action. So this is not a case of applying a stick to anybody, its providing them with direction of where we want to go,” said Peter Lukey, acting deputy director general of climate change.

Businesses Becoming More Involved With Climate Talks

The emergence of the low-carbon economy has witnessed business entities actively participating in climate change negotiations, and South African businesses have slowly caught up with the realities of getting involved, University of South Africa’s Professor Godwell Nhamo said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Institute for Global Dialogue climate change conference in Pretoria, he said business, which would probably carry much of the burden in the transition to a low-carbon economy through a new climate deal, were slowly becoming “genuine” in their approach to climate change.

However, Nhamo also alluded to some businesses being skeptical and “hunting for opportunities” rather than moving towards a collective solution to the challenges resulting from negative impacts of climate change.

Overall business would try to influence negotiations for a favourable position that would sustain operations.

The Top Ten Clean Energy Breakthroughs

1. Algae biofuels

If economic cutbacks do not intervene then 12 per cent of aviation fuel could come from algae by 2030. Mexico hopes to reach 1 per cent within four years. The first algae-fuelled car was put on the road in 2009. Algae fuel, a liquid looking similar to vegetable oil, releases only a fifth of the carbon emissions of fossil fuels and could be made in efficient coastal ponds. The big problem is money: production costs need to come down by 90 per cent.

2. Zinc-air batteries

With world zinc resources being 100 times more plentiful than lithium ion, a move to zinc-air batteries has the potential to make laptops more portable, electric vehicles more affordable and hearing aids more reliable. Zinc is recyclable, relatively cheap and has a high energy density. Currently used in non-rechargeable form in hearing aids, zinc batteries are expected to be launched in a rechargeable, longer-lasting version in a few years, with an extension of use to computers and cars later.

3. Organic solar cells

The UK’s Carbon Trust believes that low-cost organic solar cells can be made efficient enough to win commercial success. It is backing a project which aims to use printed rolls of these cells to provide safe lighting in parts of Africa and India. However, hopes have been repeatedly disappointed as manufacturers have struggled to get above 9 per cent light-to-energy conversion efficiency (15 per cent is more typical for average silicon- based solar panels). But, if breakthroughs do occur, many of us will start wearing solar clothing, carrying solar umbrellas and using portable solar chargers.

Can the Geothermal Industry Overcome Challenges to Raise Capital?

Geothermal energy presents baseload clean energy at a lower cost than many other renewable energy alternatives. Despite this compelling value proposition, long development horizons and the risks associated with exploration and drilling activities present hurdles to developing the country’s rich geothermal potential. Financing projects that use conventional geothermal technology remains challenging in the uncertain economic environment.

In the past year, geothermal project developers used alternative strategies to overcome three common challenges to geothermal project finance. While the challenges for raising capital at the project level are consistent with those faced in previous years, they have become even more pronounced as investors’ risk-tolerance remains low and capital constraints continue.

Three key challenges to raising capital for geothermal project investment have adversely affected developers in the past year.

34 Responses to October 19 News: 36 Lawmakers Berate State Dept, Calling it a “Cheerleader” For Keystone XL Pipeline

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Central America toll from rains climbs above 90

    GUATEMALA CITY — More than 90 people were counted dead Tuesday from heavy rains pounding Central America after Guatemala reported more people swept away by raging floodwaters and Costa Rica found four drowned.

    An estimated 700,000 people were displaced by floods and landslides following as much as 120 centimeters (47 inches) of rain in the past week in some areas — three times the monthly average this season — officials said.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Cairns recorded its wettest October day since 1964 and areas of the Daintree reportedly saw more than 500mm of rain in two days as heavy rains continued to drench Far North Queensland.

    Some towns have recorded more than 300 millimetres of rain in the past 24 hours, with a flood warning issued from Cardwell to Cooktown…………. “We were looking for a bit of rain but not 20 inches,” he said.

    “We’re flooded in here at the moment, the Daintree River has broken its banks on the flats here so … I’ve been here 20 years, never had a flood at this time of the year,” he said.”

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Hillary and Obama have turned out to be servants of the oil industry. It’s not just State. The oil companies also make the key decisions in Interior and Energy.

    Where does it say that corporations have to control the administrative branches of government that regulate them? Can our govenment even spell “conflict of interest”? How in the world did we get to this point?

  4. catman306 says:

    Instead of hearing about this linkage between State and the oil pipeline, the MSM keeps the State Dept. in the news with a story about a plot to kill some Arab ambassador that may or may no be true.

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    Another “baseball” storm –

    Hail storm pounds downtown Murfreesboro
    Dozens of vehicles dinged up by icy deluge

    Matson added that some areas, including parts of Tullahoma, saw baseball-sized hail as a result of Tuesday’s severe weather.

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    Romney and the Justification For Either Stopping Excess CO2 Emissions or Paying the World

    In last night’s Republican debate — which at times seemed like it just might become a fist fight — Romney provided a “free market” argument for why the U.S. should either stop its excessive CO2 emissions or else compensate all parts of the world that are accepting risks or suffering damage from climate change (that is, those that aren’t contributing excessive emissions to the problem as well).

    Well, the conversation and logic that Romney gave didn’t actually have to do with CO2 emissions or climate change. They had to do with the confident “free market” solution that he offered regarding the storage of nuclear waste. Essentially what he said was this: No state or group of states (even all states but one) could force a single state (e.g., Nevada) to accept the risk of storing nuclear waste. In a free market and appropriate democracy, nuclear waste should only be stored in a state with the consent of the state, and clearly the state would want to be compensated for accepting such a risk. So, if utilities want to generate nuclear energy, and thus if they have to generate nuclear waste, (in a free market) they must gain the consent of wherever it is that they’ll store the waste, and compensate those people for taking on that risk, and they’ll thus have to reflect the cost of doing so in the price of electricity generated in that way.

    He went through the discussion quite fluidly and logically, and the others seemed to agree. Brilliant Mitt.

    The main principles are, of course: You mustn’t impose risks or harms on people without their own free consent. If you can’t get their free and willing consent, you must not impose the risks or harms on them. And if you have to pay them for their consent, you’ll naturally need to reflect that payment as a cost of producing your product, and thus in the price of your product.

    Romney told the whole story, and applied the logic fluidly and nearly effortlessly, with his usual smiles. In his version of the story, it applied to electricity, utilities (in whatever states they might be), nuclear energy, and a state or states that was/were being asked to accept the risks of storing nuclear waste. But the same logic applies to CO2 emissions and climate change.

    At least one or two other candidates jumped on board and wholeheartedly agreed.

    So, if we accept the actual fact of climate change (as we do, although they still don’t, apparently), at least Romney has provided and admitted to — quite clearly, in a nationally televised debate, no less — the basic and simple logic for either ceasing our excessive emissions, asking all of the rest of the world for its voluntary consent for us to keep emitting at the levels we are, or compensating much of the rest of the world for harms created and damages incurred.

    Thank you, Mitt Romney. Now can someone get a full clip of that part of the debate, and also a transcript, so perhaps this could be the focus of a post. (I can’t write it, as I don’t have the time right now; but hopefully someone at CAP could write it. It should be a good one: ‘Free market logic provided by Romney: How to address climate change’)

    By the way, if Romney’s logic needs any back-up from another “authority” on that side of the matter, it can be found in Milton Friedman. So then, we have both Romney and Friedman explaining that “neighborhood effects” (in Friedman’s older terminology) should either be stopped, if they create harm or risk, or consent must be freely given by those who would suffer the harms or risks, and compensation provided to them in order to gain that consent and/or repair the damages. And indeed, in the case that Romney used, there were not even any immediate harms involved. Perhaps not even likely harms. The consent that Romney deemed would be necessary would be for the acceptance of the possible risk of future harm. (Would Nevada’s residents give their consent to placing a nuclear waste storage facility deep within a mountain in Nevada, a facility that might very well be safe for quite a while? And what would utilities have to pay them in order for them to accept the risk of doing so and give their consent?)

    On another note, the debate was quite entertaining. Wow. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less scary.

    Be Well,


  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    New Video By S. Fred Singer Making The Rounds

    A new video by Fred Singer is making the conservative rounds. Haven’t watched it yet. It was sent to me by a conservative friend of mine who doubts the reality of global warming. In any case, here’s the link, for what it’s worth:

    (It’s called something like ‘Hot Talk and Cold Science of Global Warming’.)

  8. prokaryotes says:

    A new ultra-sensitive technology which can monitor leaks from underwater gas pipelines has been developed by scientists at the University of Southampton. The research has shown that potentially environmentally and financially disastrous gas leaks from pipelines, and methane naturally leaking from the seabed, could in future be detected using changes in acoustic signals.

    Using a simple set of underwater microphones to monitor these changes would provide a cost effective, unique detection system which would be one hundred times more sensitive than current monitors used by the oil and gas industry for remote detection with long deep sea pipelines.

    “This new technology could save gas extraction and distribution companies millions in lost revenue. Severe leaks can also be dangerous to nearby oil rigs, shipping and for shore-based gas distribution facilities,” comments Professor Tim Leighton of the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research who led the research.

    He adds: “The technology would allow us remotely to monitor and potentially reduce the release into the atmosphere of gases from the seabed. This applies both to gas extracted by the petrochemical industries and to the methane which is naturally released from the seabed.”

Natural leaks of methane gas can be damaging to the environment because it is a greenhouse pollutant.

    The new acoustic technology, which is in early development, could also be used in future to monitor the structural integrity of carbon capture and storage facilities which are being developed globally. These facilities will trap carbon emissions, which scientists believe may be contributing to global warming. The UK government has just announced it is investing £1 billion in their development.

The research was developed by Professor Tim Leighton and Professor Paul White and published Wednesday, 12 October 2011) by the Proceedings of the Royal Society A

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    lots of us are just siting around watching with blinkers on….
    Climate Chaos
    ‎”We were sitting watching `Dancing With the Stars’ and `The X Factor.’ I went to get ice cream, and then the windows popped and we heard a boom. Now there’s nothing left,” Assidon said.

    Florida Tornado: Possible Twister Touches Down In South Florida
    SUNRISE, Fla. — A possible tornado left a 2-mile long trail of damage, peeling off roofs and tossing cars in a suburban South Florida neighborhood, officials said Wednesday. National Weather Service officials were expected in Broward County to investigate the damage reports.

  10. prokaryotes says:

    Four Scenarios Show One Optimistic Look at Sustainable Consumption in 2020

    “… people are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about” – Tim Jackson, Prosperity without Growth

    I’m sure many people and not just those protesting in Zuccotti Park would agree with this quote. Will it stay like that forever? It’s hard to tell, but according to a new research on ‘consumer futures 2020’ one thing we can be sure about is that the future is going to be radically different from today.

    The research, which presents four scenarios exploring possible patterns of consumption in 2020, has more good news – in each scenario, external social and environmental pressures drive sustainable goods and services into the mainstream, whether or not consumers actively demand them and regardless of whether the global economy is thriving or subdued. In other words, no matter what scenario will take place eventually – consumerism will become more sustainable in the near future.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    Sea levels will continue to rise for 500 years

    Rising sea levels in the coming centuries is perhaps one of the most catastrophic consequences of rising temperatures. Massive economic costs, social consequences and forced migrations could result from global warming. But how frightening of times are we facing? Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute are part of a team that has calculated the long-term outlook for rising sea levels in relation to the emission of greenhouse gases and pollution of the atmosphere using climate models. The results have been published in the scientific journal Global and Planetary Change.

    The research group has made calculations for four scenarios:

    A pessimistic one, where the emissions continue to increase. This will mean that sea levels will rise 1.1 meters by the year 2100 and will have risen 5.5 meters by the year 2500.

    Even in the most optimistic scenario, which requires extremely dramatic climate change goals, major technological advances and strong international cooperation to stop emitting greenhouse gases and polluting the atmosphere, the sea would continue to rise. By the year 2100 it will have risen by 60 cm and by the year 2500 the rise in sea level will be 1.8 meters.

    For the two more realistic scenarios, calculated based on the emissions and pollution stabilizing, the results show that there will be a sea level rise of about 75 cm and that by the year 2500 the sea will have risen by 2 meters.

    “In the 20th century sea has risen by an average of 2mm per year, but it is accelerating and over the last decades the rise in sea level has gone approximately 70% faster. Even if we stabilize the concentrations in the atmosphere and stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we can see that the rise in sea level will continue to accelerate for several centuries because of the sea and ice caps long reaction time. So it would be 2-400 years before we returned to the 20th century level of a 2 mm rise per year”, says Aslak Grinsted.

    He points out that even though long-term calculations are subject to uncertainties, the sea will continue to rise in the coming centuries and it will most likely rise by 75 cm by the year 2100 and by the year 2500 the sea will have risen by 2 meters.

  12. Sasparilla says:

    U.S. Solar Panel Makers Accuse Chinese of Trade Violations

    The article mentions that Chinese government funded Wind Power companies are starting to assault the U.S. market as well.

    Using older more expensive panel technology and a whole lot of government subsidies the Chinese panel makers have dropped their prices in the US market by 50% over the last year. Serious dumping.

    Nice to see the domestic panel makers pushing back and hopefully they’ll get protection.

    Mid to Long term is worrisome – the Chinese want this industry (and the future), want the Wind Industry too, and want our market and you haven’t heard this Democratic Administration talking about them dumping (even though its been obvious to bystanders for a long time). Its entirely feasible the Chinese could destroy the solar panel production industry in the U.S. over the next several years – serious anti-dumping measures are the only thing that would seem to stand in front of that.

  13. Sasparilla says:

    Had to add one comment there on the Solar Panel issue. Many of the comments on the liberal NY Times are troubling – these folks just think its good ol’ chinese ingenuity that brought the prices down (i.e. we just don’t know how to compete) and say let em keep coming cause the dumping prices (for now) are so good.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    Things that will probably increase with climate change

    More than one in 10 Americans use antidepressants

  15. Joan Savage says:

    The role of tree pollen in cloud seeding is better understood. Given concerns about geo-engineering, stay tuned.


    ‘A German group had reported almost a decade ago that pollens in general were weak ice nucleators. Grothe decided to test the ice-promoting ability of 15 different pollen types — including pines and other trees along with shrubs, grasses and herbs. Under their experimental conditions, distilled water alone froze at roughly –36°. Adding pollens from corn or ragweed had no effect, but those from stinging nettle, willow or hazel allowed water to freeze at –24° to –25°. And pollens from birch, pine and one type of juniper permitted freezing at –21° to –18°.

    The temperature changes were largely unaffected by removing the pollen itself, suggesting that some surface molecules left behind are responsible for the change in freezing point. Grothe and his team have confirmed that the mystery molecules are not proteins but are still investigating their true identity.”

    Link to ACPD abstract:

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Why Censoring Climate Science Doesn’t Make Sense

    Rick Perry’s administration has forced a report on the effects of climate change on Texas to remove all references to, well, climate change. But that doesn’t change what’s happening to the state’s climate.

  17. prokaryotes says:

    The Tea Party and climate change (7)

    October 18, 2011 11:18 PM | 5 Comments
    “Fossil fuel burning, deforestation, and the release of industrial chemicals are rapidly heating the earth to temperatures not experienced in human memory. Limiting global heating and climatic change is the central environmental challenge of our time.”

    Dean Edwin Abrahamson


    Between September 26 and October 2, 2011, I wrote a series of blogs titled “The Tea Party and climate change” where I offered a little history for those who care about such things.

    I briefly reviewed approximately 130 years of climate science where the relation between CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the planet was established as science fact. No scientist on Earth disputes the critical role that greenhouse gases play in capturing a sufficient amount of the Sun’s heat to help create our climate.

    My last blog mentioned 1988 as a critical year. According to The Challenge of Global Warming, published in 1989, a Senator from Delaware named Joe Biden crafted legislation that President Reagan signed called the “Global Climate Protection Act” that required his administration “to submit to Congress a plan for stabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

    The science had become so solid at this point and the deniers had not yet begun their propaganda campaign that pressure was mounting across the planet to finally do something about the issue. Serious proposals about a possible “carbon tax” were being discussed.

    Joe, maybe we can have this series here at CP as a feature?

  18. Joan Savage says:

    prokaryotes #7

    Noting the understatement, “..and to the methane which is naturally released from the seabed. ‘Natural leaks of methane gas can be damaging to the environment because it is a greenhouse pollutant.'”

  19. prokaryotes says:

    Improve decision making to cope with climate impacts – experts

    LONDON (AlertNet) – Improving decision making processes and strategies will be more effective in curbing the effects of climate-related disasters than taking specific action against climate change, climate and international development experts said this week.

    Climate change policy making is difficult because climate change, itself, is complex, uncertain and its effects are not evenly dispersed around the world. That suggests that countries should adopt a new approach of addressing climate impacts by focusing on strategies for effective decision making, according to a new report.

    The report “breaks new ground (because it) focuses on the how, not the way,” said Olav Kjorven, director of the Bureau of Development Policy, part of the United Nations Development Programme.

    According to the global insurance company Munich Re, there were 950 natural disasters in 2010, 90 percent of which were weather related. Many occurred in poor nations that have contributed relatively little to carbon emissions that are driving climate change.

    “Those who have done the least to the state of climate were the ones who were hit the hardest,” Kjorven said. “It is imperative we pool our efforts to support the countries affected.”

    The report, Decision Making in a Changing Climate, released Tuesday, includes case studies and information from over 100 experts in 35 countries and focuses on a range of elements key to decision making, including public engagement.

  20. prokaryotes says:

    To Combat Climate Change, Prof. Wolfe Looks to Soil Health

    In the face of global climate change, there is much uncertainty about future agricultural success and humanity’s ability to provide food for the global community. For the past two decades, Prof. David Wolfe, horticulture, has been helping farmers prepare for the impacts of global climate change to ensure food security for future generations and to protect the environment. He said he believes the best way to accomplish these goals is to maintain soil health.

    Wolfe’s concern with the environment began with the results of a study he and some colleagues conducted, calculating the bloom dates of lilacs, grapes and apples from 1960 until 2005. The study was published in the International Journal of Biometeorology.

    Although he recognized before the study that carbon dioxide levels were rising and eventually the temperature would follow suit, Wolfe said he was surprised at how fast temperatures have risen. The study found that the three plant species were all blooming roughly four to eight days earlier than they were in the 1960s.

    “It’s surprising how fast the climate actually has changed in the course of my career,” Wolfe said. His incentive to research climate change and find solutions comes from the feeling created by his findings, he said.

    Wolfe has worked with farmers on soil health issues since he was in graduate school at U.C. Davis in the early eighties, but more recently he has been working closely with farmers both in the Northeast and in developing countries. According to Wolfe, sustainable farming practices not only prepare farmers for climate change and make their farms more efficient, but can also sequester carbon dioxide and reduce green house gas emissions. He said that farmers can be a large part of the solution to high green house gas emissions through energy efficiency and properly managed soils and crops.

  21. prokaryotes says:

    Climate Change Threatens Tea Production In India

    Production of tea in Assam – one of the world’s largest tea producing regions – is on a slow decline, thanks to changing climate in the Brahmaputra river basin. This has been revealed by Prof Chandan Mahanta, a leading scientist from Assam who has been studying climate change effect in the river basin for years.

    Speaking at a recent media meet on climate change and effects of other development projects on the Yarlung Zangbo/Brahmaputra river basin in Kathmandu, Nepal, Mahanta said interaction between researchers of Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati and the tea growers have hinted that that productivity has been slowly declining across the tea gardens of Assam for the past decade.

    Mahanta’s statement is validated by the Economic Survey of Assam 2009-10, which shows that the production of tea has indeed declined from 1685 kg per hectare in 2001 to below 1500 kg in 2010. This is surely a disturbing trend for the state which has been at the forefront of producing tea for past 170 years. There are nearly 5000 tea gardens in the state, with an estimated total annual production capacity of 100 million tons of tea leaf.

  22. prokaryotes says:

    Wallets will soon feel effect of climate change

    Home insurance rates, cost of city water to rise as planet gets hotter, weather worsens: panel

    Read more:

  23. prokaryotes says:

    Study: Rising seas will hit S. Florida water bills

    Climate change, rising seas and increasing drought will necessitate up to $1 billion of new water supply infrastructure for South Florida in the next 70 to 100 years, a new study from Florida Atlantic University said.

    Uhm, i think that is an underestimation, because Florida faces considerable “dangerous” SLR.

  24. prokaryotes says:

    OK, this is a 3 page article


    To support these improvements, household utility bills could increase by as much as $100 per month, the study suggests.
    Barry Heimlich, research affiliate who led the study, said in a news release that significant impact would be felt within 20 years.
    “Water managers will have to contend with increasing saltwater intrusion and more intense drought,” Heimlich said. “Furthermore, risk of flooding will increase as a result of more intense rainstorms and sea level rise.”
    Saltwater intrusion – fingers of underground salty water moving inland from the Atlantic Ocean – is a long-running problem that has contaminated some well fields, which then need to be moved further west.
    The study said South Florida water utilities will face a number of challenges, including inundation of low-lying coastal areas; more saltwater contamination of water wells; malfunction of septic tanks and drainage systems; reduced soil capacity to soak up rainfall; and reduced efficiency of storm water drainage canals and flood gates, among others.
    The study was titled “Improving the Resilience of a Municipal Water Utility.”
    According to the study, much of South Florida’s water infrastructure was designed and installed more than 50 years ago, long before climate change was considered a threat. Sea level rise of approximately six inches since then is already stressing the system today.
    Miami-Dade County officials issued a press release on Oct. 18 warning that higher-than-average tides this fall may cause flooding of streets.

  25. prokaryotes says:

    Second Conservative minister accused of blurring role of adviser
    Climate change minister Greg Barker under scrutiny after consultant handed out business cards bearing Decc’s name

  26. prokaryotes says:

    Off Topic:

    IQ Isn’t Set In Stone, Suggests Study That Finds Big Jumps, Dips In Teens

    In this week’s journal Nature, researchers at University College London report documenting significant fluctuations in the IQs of a group of British teenagers. The researchers tested 33 healthy adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 years. They repeated the tests four years later and found that some teens improved their scores by as much as 20 points on the standardized IQ scale.

    “We were very surprised,” researcher Cathy Price, who led the project, tells Shots. She had expected changes of a few points. “But we had individuals that changed from being on the 50th percentile, with an IQ of 100, [all] the way up to being in the (top) 3rd percentile, with an IQ of 127.” In other cases, performance slipped by nearly as much, with kids shaving points off their scores.

    Price and her colleagues used brain scans to confirm that these big fluctuations in performance were not random — or just a fluke. They evaluated the structure of the teens’ brain in the early teen years and again in the late teenage years.

    “We were able to see that the degree to which their IQ had changed was proportional to the degree to which different parts of their brain had changed,” explains Price. For instance, an increase in verbal IQ score correlated with a structural change in the left motor cortex of the brain that is activated when we speak.

    There are lots of factors that may explain changes in IQ. Though this study did not attempt to nail them down, lots of prior research has found that educational environment is key. Some researchers have found that rigorous academic curricula lead to improved IQ scores.

  27. prokaryotes says:

    September the globe’s 8th warmest on record; heavy rains hit Florida

    September 2011 was the globe’s 8th warmest September on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated September the 9th warmest on record. NASA rates the top ten warmest Septembers since 1880 as having all occurred in the past ten years. September 2011 global land temperatures were the 4th warmest on record, and ocean temperatures were the 14th warmest on record for the month of September. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were above average, the 8th or 5th warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH).

  28. prokaryotes says:

    SEJ: KEN SALAZAR IGNORES GLOBAL WARMING | In his keynote address to the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Miami, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar avoided all mention of climate change. His twenty-minute speech addressed local conservation projects, river management, and the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Even when a reporter mentioned global warming during the ten minute question-and-answer period, Salazar ignored the fundamental environmental challenge of our time.

  29. Hey Mike, having corporations as the fourth branch of government is called “checks and balances”.

    The corporations write the checks and the politicians shift the balance to favour their new BFFs over the other 99%.

    I’ve heard they are going to give cabinet positions directly to corporation soon to streamline the process.

  30. prokaryotes says:

    KOCH’S KEYSTONE XL CONNECTION | Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has renewed his request that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce investigate the role of Koch Industries in the Keystone XL pipeline. “When I first raised this issue in May, representatives from Koch denied any interest in the pipeline and Chairman Upton called the idea that there could be a link between Koch and the pipeline an ‘outrageous accusation’ and a ‘blatant political sideshow,’” Waxman wrote in his letter. “Recently, however, I have become aware of evidence that appears to contradict the assertions of the Koch representatives and Chairman Upton.”

  31. Raul M. says:

    Does even the SCOTUS find that it is picking a fight if it doesn’t see things the way of the fossils and their fuels?

  32. Raul M. says:

    That fossil fuel was waiting maybe thousands of years before it was burned and not really contributing to the GW. Once burned and the co2 up in the air it waited no longer and the warning from it started happening.
    Tracking the warming and the potential for more warming is a fine science. There are ways that the co2 changes so that it isn’t co2 anymore. There are ways that it may be many years before any changes would happen that it wouldn’t be still warming.
    Does the co2 taken up by the oceans still produce warming when the sun shines on the water. I think it would still take up the warmth of the sun. But to not be a sin eater for the fossil fuel industry and still be involved with them -LOL
    Still living on Earth.