Tag Archives: business & technology

The Energy Department expects no decline in America’s carbon emissions by 2050.

Which, by the way, is melting.

“This discovery is a game-changer,” said Paul Schuster, lead author of a new study that quantified the total mercury in the Arctic’s frozen permafrost.

And it’s a lot of mercury! To be precise, 793 gigagrams — more than 15 million gallons — of the stuff is currently locked up in frozen northern soils. That’s by far the biggest reservoir of mercury on the planet — almost twice the amount held by the rest of the world’s earth, oceans, and atmosphere combined.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the permafrost stayed, well, permanently frosty. But, as previous research has outlined, it’s not.

Mercury is a toxin that can cause birth defects and neurological damage in animals, including humans. And mercury levels accumulate as you go up the food chain, which is why king-of-the-jungle species like tuna and whale can be unsafe to eat in large quantities.

As thawing permafrost releases more mercury into the atmosphere and oceans, the implications for human health are troubling. Locally, many northern communities rely on subsistence hunting and fishing, two sources of possible mercury contamination. Globally, the toxin could travel great distances and collect in distant ecosystems.

As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to want permafrost to stay frozen.

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The Energy Department expects no decline in America’s carbon emissions by 2050.

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Tesla solar products are coming to a store near you.

On Monday, newly minted Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon trading program that aims to reduce greenhouse gases from the power sector.

New Jersey’s former governor (and bona fide bully) Chris Christie had pulled the state out in 2011, saying the initiative increased the tax burden for utilities and failed to adequately reduce greenhouse gases. Murphy said that Christie’s decision to withdraw had cost the state $279 million in revenue.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities will begin drawing up a game plan to re-enter the pact.

Nine eastern states already participate in RGGI: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Now, New Jersey is joining the fray, and Virginia may soon follow.

“With this executive order, New Jersey takes the first step toward restoring our place as a leader in the green economy,” Murphy said. Jersey shore knows what it’s doing!

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Tesla solar products are coming to a store near you.

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Every year, more cows are milked by robots.

On Monday, newly minted Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon trading program that aims to reduce greenhouse gases from the power sector.

New Jersey’s former governor (and bona fide bully) Chris Christie had pulled the state out in 2011, saying the initiative increased the tax burden for utilities and failed to adequately reduce greenhouse gases. Murphy said that Christie’s decision to withdraw had cost the state $279 million in revenue.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities will begin drawing up a game plan to re-enter the pact.

Nine eastern states already participate in RGGI: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Now, New Jersey is joining the fray, and Virginia may soon follow.

“With this executive order, New Jersey takes the first step toward restoring our place as a leader in the green economy,” Murphy said. Jersey shore knows what it’s doing!

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Every year, more cows are milked by robots.

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Sierra Club’s new video slams Ford for greenwashing its public image

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In a video made public Wednesday, the Sierra Club denounced Ford Motor Company for lobbying the Trump administration and “#PollutingPruitt” to roll back vehicle efficiency and emission standards.

The environmental organization timed the airing of their new video with the D.C. Auto Show, at which Ford isn’t showing any electric vehicles despite claiming a commitment to sustainability, according to the Sierra Club.

Titled, “Tell Ford to put clean cars in the fast lane,” the 53-second video features a man getting into a car, paired with a caption reading, “By 2025, fuel-efficiency of U.S. cars will nearly double thanks to current clean-car standards.” Once inside the car, the man notices all of the car’s gears shift to reverse. Without another choice, he puts the car in reverse and blasts back in time, as the car transforms into a Model-T. A caption then reads, “But Ford is trying to roll back these standards so they can make cars with worse gas mileage than the Model T.”

The Sierra Club posted the video on Twitter, along with the hashtag, #ForwardNotBack (which couldn’t help but remind us of this Simpsons episode).

Not long ago, Ford pledged to invest in greener technologies, including $11 billion to put new electric vehicles on the road by 2022, a company spokesperson recently told The Hill, and the company has even criticized its own role in climate change. In a video put out by the company in conjunction with the release of their 2016-2017 Sustainability Report in August, executive chair Bill Ford says, “The implications of climate change are pretty profound … If we continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution, what kind of example are we setting for our children — our grandchildren?”

Ford though isn’t alone in pushing for looser emission standards. In Nov. 2016, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing companies including Ford, General Motors, and Toyota, sent a letter to then President-elect Trump, asking him to “harmonize and adjust” the Obama-era emission goals and regulations. In March, Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review current fuel efficiency standards after meeting with executives from different motor companies, including Ford.

“Ford may be trying to put on a good show, but behind closed doors, it has been working with Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt to roll back our single biggest defense against dangerous climate pollution,” said Andrew Linhardt, the deputy legislative director at the Sierra Club, in a statement. “Ford’s claims of sustainability in its advertising and here at the auto show are nothing more than greenwashing.”

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Sierra Club’s new video slams Ford for greenwashing its public image

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Peak oil is back and better than ever.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the PennEast Pipeline its certificate of public convenience and necessity on Friday, which also allows the company to acquire land through eminent domain.

The proposed $1 billion pipeline would run nearly 120 miles from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and transport up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. Its opponents say it would threaten the health and safety of nearby communities and endanger natural and historic resources. Proponents maintain that the pipeline is an economic boon that will lower energy costs for residents.

After getting the OK from FERC, the company moved up its estimated in-service date to 2019, with construction to begin this year. But it won’t necessarily be an easy road ahead. The pipeline still needs permits from the State of New Jersey, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware River Basin Commission. And while Chris Christie was a big fan of the pipeline, newly elected Governor Phil Murphy ran a campaign promising a green agenda and has already voiced opposition.

Pipeline opponents are demonstrating this afternoon and taking the developers to court. “It’s just the beginning. New Jersey doesn’t need or want this damaging pipeline, and has the power to stop it when it faces a more stringent state review,” Tom Gilbert, campaign director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said in a statement.

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Peak oil is back and better than ever.

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So is coal great again or what?

Some of these articles are sensationalized very nearly to the point of inaccuracy. Others are cases of “elaborate misinformation.”

A review from Climate Feedback, a group of scientists who survey climate change news to determine whether it’s scientifically sound, looked at the 25 most-shared stories last year that focused on the science of climate change or global warming.

Of those, only 11 were rated as credible, meaning they contained no major inaccuracies. Five were considered borderline inaccurate. The remaining nine, including New York Magazine’s viral “The Uninhabitable Earth,” were found to have low or very low credibility. However, even the top-rated articles were noted as somewhat misleading. (Read the reviews here.) 

“We see a lot of inaccurate stories,” Emmanuel Vincent, a research scientist at the University of California and the founder of Climate Feedback, told Grist. Each scientist at Climate Feedback holds a Ph.D. and has recently published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Vincent says that the New York Times and Washington Post are the two main sources that Climate Feedback has found “consistently publish information that is accurate and influential.” (He notes that Grist’s “Ice Apocalypse” by Eric Holthaus also made the credibility cut.)

“You need to find the line between being catchy and interesting without overstepping what the science can support,” he says.

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So is coal great again or what?

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The Vatican is holding a contest for climate change startups.

Donald Trump’s White House is using some alarming tactics to keep people quiet about climate change and other scientific matters. Over the past few days, investigations have brought some of them to light:

No more climate tweets: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke summoned Joshua Tree National Park’s superintendent to his office last month to reprimand him for tweeting about climate change, The Hill reported on Friday. Zinke made it clear that it was no longer OK for any national park to share climate change facts on official social media accounts.

Joshua Tree’s Twitter account had sent out a thread devoted to climate change:

“Science-based” gets banned: Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration has forbidden health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies from using words such as “fetus,” “transgender,” and “science-based” in official documents for next year’s budget.

EPA employees targeted: A lawyer with the Republican campaign group America Rising (which helps find damaging info on political opponents) submitted requests for emails written by EPA staffers who had criticized the agency, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The request calls for emails that mention EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt or President Trump, along with any email correspondence with congressional Democrats who had criticized the EPA.

America Rising is affiliated with Definers Public Affairs, a communications company founded by two influential Republicans that promises to help its clients “influence media narratives” and “move public opinion.” The EPA recently signed a $120,000 contract with Definers for media monitoring.

Things are getting pretty Orwellian in here.

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The Vatican is holding a contest for climate change startups.

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Let’s check in on some of the brands increasingly running your life.

Today, the president signed two proclamations drastically cutting land from two federal monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by 80 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

When President Obama designated Bears Ears a national monument last year, it was a huge victory for five Utah tribes — the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Hopi, and the Pueblo of Zuni — who came together in 2015 to push for the preservation of what they estimate are 100,000 cultural and ancestral sites, some dating back to 1300 AD, in the region.

“More than 150 years ago, the federal government removed our ancestors from Bears Ears at gunpoint and sent them on the Long Walk,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred said in statement. “But we came back.”

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president authority to establish national monuments, largely to thwart looting of archaeological sites. Trump is the first president to shrink a monument in decades.

The five tribes have said they will bring a legal case against the administration — the outcome could redefine the president’s powers to use the Antiquities Act. “We know how to fight and we will fight to defend Bears Ears,” Filfred said.

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Let’s check in on some of the brands increasingly running your life.

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Australia just plugged the world’s biggest battery into its grid.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s strategy to bring the public discussion, which ended Wednesday, “to the heart of coal country to hear from those most impacted” backfired when a few legacy coal miners like Nick Mullins of Kentucky came to testify.

“I don’t want [my son] to be a sixth-generation coal miner,” Mullins said, adding that the plan could lead to diverse job opportunities that won’t endanger his family’s health. When Obama announced the Clean Power Plan in 2015, the EPA estimated it could prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks.

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA to stop the plan’s implementation. The rules would have forced states to cut emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It was a big piece of the United States’ compliance with the Paris climate accord, which President Trump now plans to leave.

“As long as I can draw a breath, I’m going to keep working to fight climate change and protect the land and country I love,” said Stanley Sturgill, a Kentucky resident living with black lung disease after more than 40 years as a coal miner. “For the sake of my grandchildren and yours, I call on you to strengthen, not repeal, the Clean Power Plan.”

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Australia just plugged the world’s biggest battery into its grid.

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California may use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2020, a decade ahead of schedule.

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California may use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2020, a decade ahead of schedule.

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