Energy and Global Warming News for August 3rd: ExxonMobil alone outspent entire clean energy industry on lobbying efforts so far this year; climate change increasing morphine levels of opium poppies

Exxon Outspends Clean-Energy Industry on Washington Lobbying

Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest U.S. oil producer, spent more on Washington lobbying during the first half of the year than all clean-energy companies combined, researcher New Energy Finance Ltd. said.

Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, spent $14.9 million lobbying in the six months, 23 percent more than the $12.1 million laid out by companies that make solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity, London-based New Energy Finance said today in a note to clients. Oil and gas companies spent a total of $82.2 million on Washington lobbyists, according to the report.

And, of course, this doesn’t count their arguably more influential spending to promote climate denial and faulty economic analysis (see “Another ExxonMobil deceit: They are still funding climate science deniers despite public pledge”).


Warming World, Potent Poppies

Greater concentrations of carbon dioxide in a warming world may have a drastic effect on the potency of opium poppies, according to a new study. While this increase might mean more morphine available for legal pharmaceutical uses, the painkiller is also the main ingredient in heroin.

The current crop of poppies is twice as potent as those grown at carbon dioxide levels seen in 1950, says Lewis Ziska of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory. If projections hold, the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase morphine levels three-fold by 2050 and by 4.5 times by 2090.

“I was surprised to see that the alkaloid levels changed so quickly,” says Ziska. Morphine is part of a class of chemicals called alkaloids, which plants produce to ward off bugs, birds and other natural dangers. While toxic to some animals, humans use hundreds of plant alkaloids in various ways. Cocaine, caffeine, capsaicin (which makes chili peppers hot), lysergic acid (a precursor for LSD) and the anti-malarial drug quinine are all examples of alkaloids.

California told it must adapt to changing climate

Even if the world is successful in cutting carbon emissions in the future, California needs to start preparing for rising sea levels, hotter weather and other effects of climate change, a new state report recommends.

It encourages local communities to rethink future development in low-lying coastal areas, reinforce levees that protect flood-prone areas and conserve already strapped water supplies.

“We still have to adapt, no matter what we do, because of the nature of the greenhouse gases,” said Tony Brunello, deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, who helped prepare the report. “Those gases are still going to be in the atmosphere for the next 100 years.”

China energy intensity down 3.35 pct in first half

A decline in China’s energy intensity, or the amount of energy it uses to produce each unit of national income, picked up pace in the first half of 2009, the country’s top economic planner said on Sunday.

The country used 3.35 percent less energy to generate each dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) in the six months through June 2009 than a year earlier, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its Website.

This was a speedier fall than the 2.89 percent decline notched up in the first quarter, and faster than the 2.88 percent decrease registered in the same period of 2008.

China’s government is pushing to make the country more efficient to reduce reliance on overseas oil and gas and curb damaging pollution from power plants and factories — even as its strong growth pushes up overall energy consumption.

Australia to Push China, U.S. for Ambition on Climate (Update1)

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, will push the U.S. and China to show more “ambition” in this year’s global warming talks, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.

We will “use our relationship with key nations to encourage political will and to encourage more ambition in the agreement,” Wong said in an interview in Sydney on July 31. China, the U.S. and India are “key” to success, she said.

China and the U.S., the world’s largest polluters, have yet to commit to targets for cutting greenhouse gases ahead of a December meeting of 200 countries in Copenhagen. Participants disagree on how much financial and technological aid developed nations, which have been polluting longer, should provide to emerging economies.


Green is the color of the conservation movement, and the traditional color of Islam. At a recent conference in Istanbul, Islamic scholars from all over the Muslim world gathered under an especially green banner to talk about climate change. Mahmoud Akef (MAHMOOD AKEEF) organized the conference, and talks with Jeff Young about the seven year Muslim Action Plan on global warming, which sets out to green the Hajj, boost awareness, and create an eco-Islamic label for products.

Christian leaders urge international action on climate change

The leaders, who drafted a statement last month while attending the Micah Network Global Consultation on Climate Change in Limuru, Kenya, are urging world leaders to take decisive action to secure an ambitious and fair climate deal this year in Copenhagen,.where they will seek to agree on a post-2012 climate agreement that will replace the current Kyoto protocol.

“Although climate change is affecting us all, it is having the hardest impact in the most vulnerable communities around the world, who have done the least to cause it. It is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people, mainly in the developing world,” the Christian leaders stated.

India and China co-operate over Himalayan glaciers

India and China are to co-operate in monitoring the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, a border region crucial to both countries’ water supplies and one over which they have gone to war.

Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, said that, as part of a scientific investigation into the health of what are called the Water Towers of Asia, academic research bodies on both sides of the mountain range would share information. He also told the FT that New Delhi was open to a dialogue about water resources with Beijing, saying the two countries shared concerns.

Pollution-trapping reservoirs nearing capacity — USGS

Reservoirs that trap harmful sediment before it flows into the Chesapeake Bay are nearing their storage capacities, putting the beleaguered estuary at risk of suffering from even more pollution, according to a new government report.

Within 15 to 20 years, the reservoirs behind all three dams of the lower Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland may reach their sediment capacities, the U.S. Geological Survey found.