April 24, 2012

The Center for American Progress focuses on the reason clean energy jobs are growing 7 times faster than traditional jobs in Massachusetts.

Wendell Berry's Earth Day Speech

Speaking at the National Cathedral, famed environmental writer Wendell Berry delivered a clear message for Earth Day: We have a moral obligation to protect the environment.

Berry, a living legend in the environmental movement, addressed a crowd of faith leaders, community organizers, farmers and environmentalists at the Cathedral on Earth Day.

"The idea of the intractability of problems is wrong. Don't get into this with a goal or a schedule. You must do it because it is right – because it is right, or it [your fight] will never last," said Berry.

Author of over 80 novels, short stories, and essays, and poems, Wendell Berry has been a tireless advocate for localism and environmental stewardship for nearly 50 years.

He famously coined this brilliant twist on the Golden Rule: "Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you."

You can watch a video of Wendell Berry's remarks at the National Cathedral here. 

Environmental News

As prices have neared and in some cases topped $4 a gallon, drivers have cut their consumption of gasoline to its lowest levels in a decade, driving less and buying cars that are more fuel-efficient. [Washington Post]

The White House on Tuesday said Obama would veto legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives that sought to force approval of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline as part of a new 90-day extension of federal transportation funding. [Reuters]

"The climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare & unprecedented weather events," explained Weather Underground director of meteorology and former hurricane hunter, Dr. Jeff Masters.

The Brookings Institution says that green jobs in the clean energy sector grew at twice the rate of jobs in the general economy during the peak of the recession from 2008–2010. 

Insurance giant Lloyd's of London issued a report concluding that offshore drilling in the Arctic would "constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk" and urged companies to "think carefully about the consequences of action" before exploring for oil in the region.

In another stark warning about the dangers of Arctic Ocean drilling, the German bank WestLB announced that it would not provide financing to any offshore oil or gas drilling in the region. The company's sustainability manager said the "risks and costs are simply too high."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon made a call to double global consumption of renewable energy over the next two decades in order to ensure sustainable economic development. "It's possible if we show political leadership," Ban said about the goal that falls under a sustainable energy initiative aiming to have universal access to power by 2030. Currently, renewable energy accounts for about 16 percent of world consumption. [AFP]

Extreme Weather and Global Warming Connection

A 2 to 1 majority of Americans are seeing a connection between extreme weather and global warming - http://nyti.ms/I4sLFc 

82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in the past year;
35 percent of all Americans report that they were personally harmed either a great deal or a moderate amount by one or more of these extreme weather events in the past year;
57 percent of Americans understand "If we don't do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert."

Environmental News

E.P.A. caps benzene, hexane, and methane emissions at Gas and Oil Wells - http://nyti.ms/I1hhz1

Jellyfish population on the rise, perhaps due to global warming and pollution http://bit.ly/I1hPVB

Holy Hail! Photos, Videos Show Texas Storm's Fury; Drifts 4-Feet Deep : NPR - http://n.pr/HTrC0Z

Americans Link Global Warming to Extreme Weather, Poll Says - NYTimes - http://nyti.ms/Ic2vXw

BP Oil Spill Panel Faults Congress for Inaction - NYTimes - http://nyti.ms/Ic2Glx

Beetles' Birth Explosion Puts Pine Trees Under Stress - NYTimes - http://nyti.ms/Ic3qXG

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again - NYTimes http://nyti.ms/Ic3BST

American Corn Growers Speak Out on Climate Change Report - We're on the frontline of global warming - http://bit.ly/HSIUsj

Republican Meteorologist Speaks out again - "Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore." http://buswk.co/HSJSVA

April 13, 2012

Connecting the Dots

350.org's latest video on connecting the dots. 2 minutes of outstanding clarity.

Lester Brown on Sustainability

by Lester R. Brown

Moving the global economy off its current decline-and-collapse path depends on reaching four goals: stabilizing climatestabilizing populationeradicating poverty, and restoring the economy's natural support systems. These goals–comprising what the Earth Policy Institute calls "Plan B" to save civilization–are mutually dependent. All are essential to feeding the world's people. It is unlikely that we can reach any one goal without reaching the others.

The key to restructuring the economy is to get the market to tell the truth through full-cost pricing. If the world is to move onto a sustainable path, we need economists who will calculate indirect costs and work with political leaders to incorporate them into market prices by restructuring taxes. This will require help from other disciplines, including ecology, meteorology, agronomy, hydrology, and demography. Full-cost pricing that will create an honest market is essential to building an economy that can sustain civilization and progress.
For energy specifically, full-cost pricing means putting a tax on carbon to reflect the full cost of burning fossil fuels and offsetting it with a reduction in the tax on income. 

Some 2,500 economists, including nine Nobel Prize winners in economics, have endorsed the concept of tax shifts. Harvard economics professor and former chairman of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors N. Gregory Mankiw wrote in Fortune magazine: "Cutting income taxes while increasing gasoline taxes would lead to more rapid economic growth, less traffic congestion, safer roads, and reduced risk of global warming–all without jeopardizing long-term fiscal solvency. This may be the closest thing to a free lunch that economics has to offer."

The failure of the market to reflect total costs can readily be seen with gasoline. The most detailed analysis available of gasoline's indirect costs is by the International Center for Technology Assessment. When added together, the many indirect costs to society–including climate change, oil industry tax breaks, military protection of the oil supply, oil industry subsidies, oil spills, and treatment of auto exhaust-related respiratory illnesses—total roughly $12 per gallon. That is on top of the price paid at the pump. These are real costs. Someone bears them. If not us, our children.

If we can get the market to tell the truth, to have market prices that reflect the full cost of burning gasoline or coal, of deforestation, of overpumping aquifers, and of overfishing, then we can begin to create a rational economy. If we can create an honest market, then market forces will rapidly restructure the world energy economy. Phasing in full-cost pricing will quickly reduce oil and coal use. Suddenly windsolar, and geothermalwill become much cheaper than climate-disrupting fossil fuels.

If we leave costs off the books, we risk bankruptcy. A decade ago, a phenomenally successful company named Enron was frequently on the covers of business magazines. It was, at one point, the seventh most valuable corporation in the United States. But when some investors began raising questions, Enron's books were audited by outside accountants. Their audit showed that Enron was bankrupt–worthless. Its stock that had been trading for over $90 a share was suddenly trading for pennies.

Enron had devised some ingenious techniques for leaving costs off the books. We are doing exactly the same thing, but on a global scale. If we continue with this practice, we too will face bankruptcy.

Another major flaw in our market economy is that it neither recognizes nor respects sustainable yield limits of natural systems. Consider, for example, the overpumping of aquifers. Once there is evidence that a water table is starting to fall, the first step should be to ban the drilling of new wells. If the water table continues to fall, then water should be priced at a rate that will reduce its use and stabilize the aquifer. Otherwise, there is a "race to the bottom" as wells are drilled ever deeper. When the aquifer is depleted, the water-based food bubble will burst, reducing harvests and driving up food prices.

Or consider deforestation. Proper incentives, such as a stumpage tax for each tree cut, would automatically shift harvesting from clearcutting to selective cutting, taking only the mature trees and protecting the forests.

Not only do we distort reality when we omit costs associated with burning fossil fuels from their prices, but governments actually subsidize their use, distorting reality even further. Worldwide, subsidies that encourage the production and use of fossil fuels add up to roughly $500 billion per year, compared with less than $70 billion for renewable energy, including wind, solar, and biofuels. Governments are shelling out nearly $1.4 billion per day to further destabilize the earth's climate.

Shifting subsidies to the development of climate-benign energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal power will help stabilize the earth's climate. Moving subsidies from road construction to high-speed intercity rail construction could increase mobility, reduce travel costs, and lower carbon emissions.

We are economic decisionmakers, whether as corporate planners, government policymakers, investment bankers, or consumers. And we rely on the market for price signals to guide our behavior. But if the market gives us bad information, we make bad decisions, and that is exactly what has been happening.

We are currently being blindsided by a faulty accounting system, one that will lead to bankruptcy. As Øystein Dahle, former Vice President of Exxon for Norway and the North Sea, has observed: "Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth."

Adapted from World on the Edge by Lester R. Brown. Full book available online at www.earth-policy.org/books/wote.

Time for Coal Ash Rules

Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Against EPA to Force Coal Ash Regulation

Earthjustice also released information it obtained from EPA that shows 29 power plants in 16 states have contaminated groundwater close to coal ash storage facilities.

March Madness

I'd encourage you to read Joe Romm's post titled - March Madness: 

He talks in detail about the unprecedented heat wave we've just experienced in March. Stunning really. 

Climate Change is here - now. Many of us thought this was a fight to protect the environment for our children and our grandchildren - but it is now clear - we are fighting for our own lives. 

The Boston Globe ran an article about a Harvard study that showed that summer heat waves due to climate change are killing an additional 10,000 people a year in the US.  Link to the report here

They report states that elderly people have a 42% higher chance of dying from heat for each 1 degree C increase in temperature variability. 

March broke all records

It's official. This was "the warmest March on record" since records began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
(The number 118 in the chart above means that this March was the hottest March in 118 years for that state. The number 117 in the chart above means that this March was the 2nd hottest since records have been kept.) 

How hot was it? It was so hot that NOAA reports "there were 15,272 warm temperature records broken (7,755 daytime records, 7,517 nighttime records)."
NOAA released some amazing charts and factoids yesterday:
  • Hundreds of locations across the country broke their all-time March records. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date.
  • A persistent weather pattern led to 25 states east of the Rockies having their warmest March on record. An additional 15 states had monthly temperatures ranking among their ten warmest.

The Secret Life of Garbage

Secret Life of Garbage: Must See Graphic - We produce enough trash each year to cover the state of Texas - TWICE!

Life of Garbage
Created by: Business Degree


Environmental News

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have "estimated that greater summer temperature variability, a predicted consequence of climate change, is causing 10,000 additional deaths per year in the United States, a figure that is likely to rise along with the mercury."  The study found, "For each increase of 1 degree Celsius in summer temperature variability, the death rate for infirm elderly residents rose between 2.8 percent and 4 percent, depending on the ailment." [Boston Globe]

New York City has tripled its production of solar power by completing the installation of panels on 10 city-owned buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. [Wall Street Journal]

The sun is shining on homeowners in less affluent neighborhoods who are discovering they can afford solar energy after all — by leasing rather than buying the panels on their roofs. [Renewable Energy World]

A new journal article finds that methane leakage greatly undercuts or eliminates entirely the climate benefit of a switch to natural gas. The authors of "Greater Focus Needed on Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Infrastructure" conclude that "it appears that current leakage rates are higher than previously thought" and "Reductions in CH4 Leakage Are Needed to Maximize the Climate Benefits of Natural Gas."

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has a terrific column on how climate change has already begun to impact the Middle East — and how it is only going to get much worse if we don't act soon.
"The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies."

Clean Energy Jobs

by Van Jones
Many politicians want us to lower our expectations about the economy. I say it is time to raise them. We should go beyond the shriveled thinking imposed upon us by today's mania for austerity. The time has come to propose solutions at the scale of the problems we face. We can and we must revive the economy — in a way that respects people and the planet.

The time has come to create "jobs FOR the environment." We seem to forget that everything that is good for the environment is a job. Solar panels don't put themselves up. Wind turbines don't manufacture themselves. Houses don't retrofit themselves and put in their own new boilers and furnaces and better-fitting windows and doors. Community gardens don't tend themselves. Farmers' markets don't run themselves. Every single thing that is good for the environment is actually a job, a contract, or an entrepreneurial opportunity.

When we do this, we won't be starting from scratch. According to the Brookings Institution, the United States already has 2.7 million green jobs [by the way that is more workers than the fossil fuel industry employs!]. A bigger national commitment to building a green economy can create many millions more.

As we think about a new economy, perhaps we can begin to apply some new math — and begin to count what really counts. The earth counts; our health counts; our kids count; the future counts. Where economic and energy policy meet, we should calculate not only what we spend, but also what we save. And we should consider the payoffs from the investments we make in human and natural capital.

Excerpted from Rebuild the Dream by Van Jones,

True Cost of Alberta Tar Sands oil

Here is a must see video that presents the true cost of Alberta Tar Sands oil.

What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.
This powerful talk helps us understand that the tar sands are not just another source of oil. That this oil comes to us at a cost of industrializing an area the size of the state of Florida - one of the most beautiful and important forests and wetlands in the world. 

Costs of Climate Change

According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas drought has caused $7.62 billion in damages to crops and farming operations. That's up from $5.3 billion reported last August.

Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon explained last September:
Warmer temperatures lead to greater water demand, faster evaporation, and greater drying-out of potential fuels for fire. Thus, the impacts of the drought were enhanced by global warming, much of which has been caused by man.

Climate change is expected to cost the economy of Pakistan up to $14 billion each year for natural disasters and other losses, which is almost 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, this was stated by Former Federal State Minister for Environment Malik Amin Aslam.


Damage to natural services provided by oceans could cost the world $2 Trillion a year by the end of the century if steps to curtail climate change are not taken, a study by the respected Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said today.
Researchers warned that without action global temperatures could rise by 4°C by 2100, leading to acidification, reduced oxygen content, stronger tropical storms and sea-level rises, all of which would in turn threaten fish stocks and other marine life.
The End of Sierra SkiingRising temperatures are expected to cause the Sierra Nevada to lose 80 percent of its winter snowpack in just 40 years, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said.

The decrease in snowfall was among several grim impacts that climate change could have on the Bay Area if current carbon emissions go unabated, USGS climate change coordinator Tom Suchanek said in a lecture called "Projected Climate Change Impacts in California." 

A Message from a Republican Meterologist

Well worth reading!

by Paul Douglas, via neorenaissance
I'm going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real.
I am a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment, and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I'm a meteorologist, and the weather maps I'm staring at are making me uncomfortable. No, you're not imagining it: we've clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters, I'm in a small, frustrated and endangered minority:  a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up, long-term. It's ironic.
The root of the word conservative is "conserve."  A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world. Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. Now some in my party believe the EPA and all those silly "global warming alarmists" are going to get in the way of drilling and mining our way to prosperity. Well, we have good reason to be alarmed.

Weather 2.0. "It's A New Atmosphere Floating Overhead."

These are the Dog Days of March. Ham Weather reports 6,895 records in the last week – some towns 30 to 45 degrees warmer than average; off-the-scale, freakishly warm. 13,393 daily records for heat since March 1 – 16 times more warm records than cold records. The scope, intensity and duration of this early heat wave are historic and unprecedented.
And yes, climate change is probably spiking our weather.
"Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get." 129,404 weather records in one year? You can't point to any one weather extreme and say "that's climate change". But a warmer atmosphere loads the dice, increasing the potential for historic spikes in temperature and more frequent and bizarre weather extremes. You can't prove that any one of Barry Bond's 762 home runs was sparked by (alleged) steroid use. But it did increase his "base state," raising the overall odds of hitting a home run. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, more fuel for floods, while increased evaporation pushes other regions into drought.
Here's what I suspect: the patient is running a slight fever. Symptoms include violent tornado sneezes, severe sniffles of flooding and raging rashes of jaw-dropping warmth. It's 85 in March. What will July bring? It's as if Mother Nature seized the weather remote, put America's seasons on fast-forward, and turned the volume on extreme weather up to a deafening 10. This isn't even close to being "normal". Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters put it best. "This is not the atmosphere I grew up with."
Some TV meteorologists, professionals who are skilled at predicting short-term weather, are still in denial. Why? Some don't like being upstaged by climate scientists; we've all been burned by weather models, and some (mistakenly) apply the same suspicion to climate models. Others haven't taken the time to dig into the climate science. "It's all political" one local TV weather-friend told me recently. No, it's science. But we've turned it into a political football, a bizarre litmus test for conservatism. Weather and climate are flip-sides of the same coin; you can't talk about one without understanding the other.

Acknowledging Climate Science Doesn't Make You A Liberal

My climate epiphany wasn't overnight, and it had nothing to do with Al Gore. In the mid-90s I noticed gradual changes in the weather patterns floating over Minnesota. Curious, I began investigating climate science, and, over time, began to see the thumbprint of climate change, along with 97% of published, peer-reviewed PhD's, who link a 40% spike in greenhouse gases with a warmer, stormier atmosphere.
Bill O'Reilly, whom I respect, talks of a "no-spin zone." Yet today there's a very concerted, well-funded effort to spin climate science. Some companies, institutes and think tanks are cherry-picking data, planting dubious seeds of doubt, arming professional deniers, scientists-for-hire and skeptical bloggers with the ammunition necessary to keep climate confusion alive. It's the "you can't prove smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer!" argument, times 100, with many of the same players. Amazing.
Schopenhauer said "All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally it is accepted as self-evident." We are now well into Stage 2. It's getting bloody out there.  Climate scientists are receiving death threats and many Americans don't know what to believe. Some turn to talk radio or denial-blogs for their climate information. No wonder they're confused.

Who says you can't see the wind?

The folks at Many Eyes, an experimental visualization company funded by IBM, have released an amazing map showing how the wind moves across the country in real time. Upon a quick glance, it's easy to see why all the wind farms are being built in the Midwest, Northwest and Northeast.

Click on the map to see the interactive version. It's hard to take your eyes away.

Planetary Summit Statement

The defining challenge of our age is to safeguard Earth's natural processes to ensure the well-being of civilization while eradicating poverty, reducing conflict over resources, and supporting human and ecosystem health. 

As consumption accelerates everywhere and world population rises, it is no longer sufficient to work towards a distant ideal of sustainable development. Global sustainability must become a foundation of society. It can and must be part of the bedrock of nation states and the fabric of societies.

"Off the scale weird" weather

Veteran Minneapolis broadcaster Paul Douglas, after noting that Sunday's low temperature in Rochester broke the previous record high, blogged "this is OFF THE SCALE WEIRD even for Minnesota."

Read that again --- Sunday's LOW temperature broke the previous HIGH temperature record for that date!!!! 

Then read what Bill McKibben has to say about all this... if for no other reason than to read such a well-written essay. 

The National Weather Service is kind of the anti–Mike Daisey, a just-the-facts operation that grinds on hour after hour, day after day. It's collected billions of records (I've seen the vast vaults where early handwritten weather reports from observers across the country are stored in endless rows of ledgers and files) on countless rainstorms, blizzards and pleasant summer days. So the odds that you could shock the NWS are pretty slim.
Beginning in mid-March, however, its various offices began issuing bulletins that sounded slightly shaken. "There's extremes in weather, but seeing something like this is impressive and unprecedented," Chicago NWS meteorologist Richard Castro told the Daily Herald [1]. "It's extraordinarily rare for climate locations with 100+ year long periods of records to break records day after day after day," the office added in an official statement.
It wasn't just Chicago, of course. A huge swath of the nation simmered under bizarre heat. International Falls, Minnesota, the "icebox of the nation," broke its old temperature records—by twenty-two degrees, which according to weather historians may be the largest margin ever for any station with a century's worth of records. Winner, South Dakota, reached 94 degrees on the second-to-last day of winter. That's in the Dakotas, two days before the close of winter. Jeff Masters, founder of WeatherUnderground, the web's go-to site for meteorological information, watched an eerie early morning outside his Michigan home and wrote, "This is not the atmosphere I grew up with," a fact confirmed later that day when the state recorded the earliest F-3 strength tornado in its history. Other weathermen were more… weathermanish. Veteran Minneapolis broadcaster Paul Douglas, after noting that Sunday's low temperature in Rochester broke the previous record high, blogged "this is OFF THE SCALE WEIRD even for Minnesota."

It's hard to overstate how impossible this weather is—when you have nearly a century and a half of records, they should be hard to break, much less smash. But this is like Barry Bonds on steroids if his steroids were on steroids, an early season outbreak of heat completely without precedent in its scale and spread. I live in Vermont, where we should be starting to slowly thaw out—but as the heat moved steadily east, ski areas shut down and golf courses opened.
And truth be told, it felt pretty good. Most people caught in the torrid zones probably reacted pretty much like President Obama: "It gets you a little nervous about what is happening to global temperatures," he told the audience assembled at a fundraiser at Tyler Perry's Atlanta mansion (records were falling in Georgia too). "On the other hand I have really enjoyed the nice weather."

Anyone thinking about the seasons ahead was at least as ambivalent, and most were scared. Here are a few of the things that could happen with staggering warmth like this early in the year:

The plants that have budded out prematurely (there's fruit budding across the nation's Apple Belt) can be easily killed by the freezes that will come if temperatures revert to anything like normal. (Frost is common here, for instance, late into May).

The soils left exposed by the early retreat of snow will dry out much earlier in the growing season, raising dramatically the risk of drought.

Forests dry out too. In recent years three-quarters of the big fires across the West have come in years when snow melted well ahead of schedule. Across the East the next six or eight weeks, before trees are fully leafed out, will be scary for forest rangers unless we get heavy rains.

One could go on: mild winters and early springs allow ticks to spread into new places, carrying disease. Reservoirs can start evaporating early. We see wickedly strong storms along the frontal boundaries of these record-setting zones. But the real fears are the things we can't anticipate, simply because we are moving into uncharted territory. We know that we can make a normal seasonal cycle, with variations within a typical range, work—we know, because we've done it as long as we've been here. But we've never seen anything like what we're seeing this week.

Except, of course, in the models that the climatologists have been printing out on their supercomputers for the last two decades. This is what climate change looks like, just like last year's new record for multibillion-dollar weather disasters is what climate change looks like. As Masters put it in a recent blog post, notable for its understatement, "it is very unlikely that the intensity of the heat would have been so great unless we were in a warming climate."
One could make some sad jokes about the coincidence of Chicago's record heat with the Illinois primary, or with the president's tour this week of drilling rigs to convince Americans that he's a great champion of fossil fuel (with a visit to a solar production facility thrown in for good measure). But the power of our politics seems puny this week compared to the power of the carbon we've unleashed for a century.

Still, one's compelled to make a witness and put up a fight. On May 5, all around the world, 350.org is organizing a day for people to testify to the impacts of climate change. There will be Pakistanis forced from their homes in the worst flooding the country's ever seen, and Somalians dealing with a drought horrible even by the standards of the Horn of Africa. Thais, who watched floods do damage last fall equal to 18 percent of the country's GDP [2], and El Salvadorans who watched fifteen years' worth of development wash away in a week of record rains. Lots of Americans were already planning to join in—Texans who watched drought kill half a billion trees there last year, Vermonters who saw the state dam near wash away in the wake of Irene. But now they'll have more company.

LinkedIn and Renewable Energy

You may know LinkedIn as an excellent way to network, but the business networking site also provides some fascinating data on the size and shape of the US economy.
By tracking the jobs and job changes of its 150 million members between 2007 and 2011, LinkedIn has been able to calculate which industries are on the rise and which are in decline.
And yes, you've guessed it: top of the pile is renewable energy and environmental roles. These grew more than 49 per cent over the four-year period, exactly double those of the second-highest risers, internet and online publishing.

Environmental News Summary

E.P.A. Sets Greenhouse Emission Limits on New Power Plants - http://nyti.ms/HksPfA

The EPA will limit CO2 emissions to 1,000 pounds per MWh for new power plants - a standard that will be very difficult for new coal plants to meet, but is easily met by new natural gas plants. Existing plants were not affected by the new rule. 

When a Parking Lot Is So Much More - Rethinking the parking lot - A NY Times Op-Ed http://nyti.ms/HkxJsZ

A better parking lot might be covered with solar canopies so that it could produce energy while lowering heat. Or perhaps it would be surfaced with a permeable material like porous asphalt and planted with trees in rows like an apple orchard, so that it could sequester carbon and clean contaminated runoff.

Edible Schoolyard Project Introduces Web Site - http://nyti.ms/Hf38A7
A new social Web site shares the lessons and best practices of school gardens and lunch programs in the hope of supporting start-up gardens around the globe.

Court Reverses E.P.A., Gives Mountain Top Mining Project the Green Light - http://nyti.ms/Hf4hYq

Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says -  http://nyti.ms/Hf6C5G 
Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in 2010, are seriously ill, and their ailments are probably related to toxic substances in the petroleum, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nine of the country's largest utility companies pledged to support the White House's Green Button program by making information on energy usage available to their customers. The announcement came on Thursday during an event at Ohio State University where several of the utilities' chief executives appeared with the president.

US Solar Installations double in 2011 - http://nyti.ms/HkClhE
System prices fell 20 percent because of cheaper components (the average price of a panel dropped 50 percent), more options for financing, better installation methods and the shift to larger arrays. 

Cornell Study Warns Economic Damage in a Keystone XL Pipeline Spill will far outweigh any benefits - http://nyti.ms/HkDhSZ

Insurance Rates & Extreme Storms

I was surprised that there was no mention of the influence of climate change in either of the two front page stories in the Boston Globe  "2011 storms trigger home insurance rate hikes" and "South, Midwest assess ruin after tornadoes that killed 38".

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained here in 2010: "There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It's about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms." 
He told the NY Times, "It's not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there's always an element of both."
Regarding the most recent storms he said, "What we can say with confidence is that heavy and extreme precipitation events often associated with thunderstorms and convection are increasing and have been linked to human-induced changes in atmospheric composition."
Here is a chart showing the trend from the Property Claims Service of Munich Re.
Incredibly fast-moving storms
The speed with which some of the storms moved was truly exceptional, thanks to jet stream winds of up to 115 mph that pushed the thunderstorms forward at amazing speeds. A number of the tornadoes ripped through Kentucky with forward speeds of 70 mph, and two tornado warnings in Central Kentucky were issued for parent thunderstorms that moved at 85 mph. If damage surveys reveal that these thunderstorms did indeed spawn tornadoes, they will set the record for fastest-moving tornadoes in recorded history. The record for the fastest moving tornado is 73 mph, set in 1925.

It should be noted that these tornadoes were not only very strong for so early in the season, but they were also the strongest ever observed in some areas:
Confirmed EF3 Tornadoes Strongest Ever Observed in At Least 3 Counties



Climate Scientists ask Heartland to stop dis-information campaign

Climate scientists ask Heartland to cease their climate science dis-information campaign to school children.

"We are greatly disappointed... [that the Heartland Institute] is continuing its campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and to undermine the teaching of well-established climate science in the classroom."

"The Heartland Institute has chosen to undermine public understanding of basic scientific facts and personally attack climate researchers rather than engage in a civil debate about climate change policy options."

"While the Heartland Institute is entitled to its views on policy, we object to its practice of spreading misinformation about climate research and personally attacking climate scientists to further its goals."