December 29, 2012

STRONG Act - Kerry focuses on Climate Resilience

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation to strengthen existing extreme weather resiliency efforts.  The legislation would provide state and local governments with the tools and information they need to develop and improve local infrastructure in an effort to better manage and withstand extreme weather in the short and long-term.

"Hurricanes, flooding, drought and other extreme weather take an immense toll on communities, homeowners, the local economy, and our first responders.  This bill would help support and encourage state and local governments to prepare for extreme weather. For every dollar we spend now on disaster preparedness and resilience-building, we can avoid at least four dollars in future losses." - Senator John Kerry

Energy Efficiency in NYC and Massachusetts

Seagram Building, New York

New York City's Effort to Track Energy Efficiency Yields Some Surprises

New York's largest buildings — just 2 percent of its roughly one million buildings — account for 45 percent of the energy expended, according to a new government report. [NY Times]

Massachusetts is a state to watch for opportunity. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts the top state for energy efficiency two years running. Massachusetts spends more per capita on efficiency than any other, and it requires that its utilities seek all cost-effective energy efficiency before securing new power sources.
Expect opportunity to heighten in Massachusetts next year. A key state advisory council in November approved utility efficiency plans that total $2.01 billion for 2013-2015. The plans require approval by the state Department of Public Utilities. A decision is likely in early 2013.
The utilities expect the plans to save 3.7 million MWh of electricity, enough to power more than 500,000 households for one year. Money for the programs comes from a surcharge on utility bills and auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Massachusetts utilities already offer a broad swath of efficiency programs under their previous three-year plan. A report from an energy advisory council to the Massachusetts State Legislature highlights results and includes several brief case studies, among them:
  • Cape Cod's famous Sea Crest Hotel is saving more than $83,000 annually in energy costs because of a $413,000 renovation that included re-insulation, Energy Star windows, high efficiency lighting and sensors, and a roof that is weather-proofed against salt air. The Sea Crest received incentives of $126,536. Payback is 3.4 years.
  • Simonds International, a worldwide manufacturer of cutting tools, installed a $5.5 million combined heat and power plant. The on-site project is expected to save Simonds $1.7 million per year over 24 years. Simonds received incentives of $606,546. Payback is 2.9 years.
  • A family in the town of Westford installed over a dozen CFL light bulbs at no cost, following an audit. The auditor also recommended sealing the air leaks and adding insulation to the 48-year-old home. The project cost $3,486, partially offset by incentives totaling $2,550. The family's annual energy savings is $228.36 and payback is four years.

Lisa Jackson steps down from EPA

Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change. 

"Under her leadership, the E.P.A. has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, including implementing the first national standard for harmful mercury pollution, taking important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act, and playing a key role in establishing historic fuel economy standards that will save the average American family thousands of dollars at the pump, while also slashing carbon pollution."

Ms. Jackson's departure comes as many in the environmental movement are questioning Mr. Obama's commitment to dealing with climate change and other environmental problems. After his re-election, and a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, Mr. Obama said that his first priority would be jobs and the economy and that he intended only to foster a "conversation" on climate change in the coming months.
That ambivalence is a far cry from the hopes that accompanied his early months in office, when he identified climate change as one of humanity's defining challenges. 

The next 10 years won't be like the last 10 years

Nice video narrated by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute (who has spoken in Lexington). The next 10 years will be very unlike the last 10 years

Tesla is Supercharging the Northeast Corridor

Tesla Motors officially opened the first 480-volt Supercharger stations on the East Coast, making a Boston-to-Washington trip possible in the company's Model S sedan, which the Environmental Protection Agency has rated at 265 miles of range with the larger 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack.
The stations, which can deliver up to 150 miles of range in 30 minutes, are at highway rest areas in Milford, Conn., and Wilmington, Del. 
[NY Times]

Obama announces expansion of marine sanctuaries

Goat Rock is located at the mouth of the Russian River near Jenner, CA

In a move that would permanently ban oil drilling along more than 50 miles of Northern California coast, the Obama administration announced plans to expand two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coast. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

Old-Timer Schools Everyone With Poignant Flood Photos

Gideon Mendel doesn't have a Facebook account. He "never really found a voice on Twitter" and his website doesn't have a bio. 

But his use of Instagram to cover the Nigerian floods that were being largely overlooked by (American) media – the worst in the country for 50 years that killed 363 people, injured over 18,000 and displaced more than 2 million – has been brilliant, and a testament to the power of images speaking for themselves.

Click the link above to see his photos. 

Indianapolis First City to Switch to All Electric or Hybrid Vehicles

The first U.S. city to outfit itself entirely with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is Indianapolis, Indiana. Mayor Greg Ballard signed the order mandating that official city-use sedans will be swapped for electrically driven vehicles in the coming year, with more vehicles to follow. The 12th largest city in the U.S. hopes to have completed the transition to EVs and PHEVs by 2025. 
The mayor's personal vehicles will be hybrids or EVs. The city will also be soliciting automakers to develop plug-in hybrid police cars. City spokesman Marc Lotter said, "We are negotiating with the automakers and several international capital fleet firms to get the best deal possible for taxpayers."
If they were to switch just police cars to EVs and PHEVs, the city estimates it would save about $10 million in fuel costs. For Ballard, it's both personal and political. "The United States' current transportation energy model, driven by oil, exacts an enormous cost financially and in terms of strategic leverage," said the mayor, a retired Marine officer and Gulf War veteran. "Our oil dependence in some cases places the fruits of our labor into the hands of dictators united against the people of the United States."

An Odometer Moment for Global Warming - 333 months and counting

For those keeping score, we just passed the 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th-century average.
November 2012 was the fifth-warmest November since records began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly climate report. The agency calculated that the 10 warmest Novembers on record have all occurred within the past 12 years.
The last time global temperatures came in below the 20th-century average for the month of November was in 1976, and the last time any month came in below the average was February 1985.

Chasing Ice - the trailer

Chasing Ice is currently screening nationwide! See for your local screenings.

Here's the Trailer -

Solar, Wind, Soot and Trash

RFK Jr. says we should put solar panels on every roof we rebuild after Hurricane Sandy - NY Times op-ed - 

Federal government attempts to kick-start the offshore wind industry by awarding $28M in grants for 7 wind projects -

EPA sets tighter soot rules to lower particle emissions linked to thousands of cases of disease and death each year.  

Just in time for the holidays, a new documentary about the ultimate fate of just about everything we lug home from the mall opens on Friday in limited release in the United States. "Trashed," directed by Candida Brady and starring Jeremy Irons, delves into the less festive side of consumerism and waste disposal. Here's the film's trailer.

Retired Brigadier General speaks out on Keystone XL

In an interview with HuffPost Live Thursday, former U.S. Army Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson spoke out against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, warning that "all Americans should be outraged" about the national security implications of the project.
"I want to stop paying big oil and I want to start seeing a green economy in this nation," he told host Alicia Menendez. "And big oil is pushing Keystone, and Keystone is essentially going to maintain the status quo for another 25 years. And during that time I can only imagine the impact it's going to have on our environment and, indeed, our national security."
Gen. Anderson said that "all Americans should be outraged about the potential implications for our national security" because the pipeline "keeps us hopelessly addicted to oil."
"We've already seen by virtue of Hurricane Sandy and Katrina and others that the world is changing, and we've got to do something about the way we expend energy," he said.
Retired Brigadier General Anderson served under General David Petraeus as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Multi-National Force in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. He is currently Chief Marketing Officer for RELYANT, a Tennessee-based defense contractor that provides construction, logistics and munitions response to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"If you understood like I do how things work in Afghanistan, it's criminal. We've had over 1,000 Americans killed moving fuel -- moving liquid fuel -- in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years. I know because I was a senior logistics officer and worked for General Petraeus for 15 months over there," Anderson said.

December 13, 2012

2012: Hottest, Most Extreme Year on Record

The year-to-date period of January – November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.–a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record.

The NCDC’s Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which “tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought,” reports it has also been the most extreme January to November period on record.

Surviving Sandy - A Climate Story

This year has been the warmest and most extreme for weather ever recorded in America; consequently, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Americans who say they are concerned about climate change. Here are a few comments from survivors of Sandy. 

Climate Action Plans - Here and Now

"Think globally, act locally" is a slogan that aptly describes the Southeast Florida Climate Leadership Summit. At the event, local government officials from four counties gathered to discuss how to mitigate and adapt to climate change's impacts.

Yep, you heard that correctly: government officials in the United States — in a "purple" state, no less — came together in a bipartisan manner to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.

These public officials aren't debating the facts of climate change. They see current effects and understand that in the face of streets flooding more regularly and drinking water supplies threatened - what political party you support is irrelevant. 

Significantly, South Florida's officials understand that they must also address the causes of climate change. They've included mitigation strategies as part of the action plan, including transitioning to cleaner energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through adoption of forward-thinking policies. A lot of work remains to implement the action plan, but there is no disagreement on the need to act now.

One climate conference delegate asked these questions.

If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?
If not here, then where? 

An Ice Free Arctic - Coming soon

This summer, the Arctic lost an area of sea ice equivalent to the state of Maine every day for a month. When the meltback was over in September, the Arctic shed an area of ice the size of Canada and Texas combined — a 40 percent decline over the historical average.
And just last month, scientists reported that the pace of ice loss in Greenland is five times greater than it was in the 1990′s, a development they called "extraordinary."

That's where James Balog, star of the new film Chasing Ice, comes in.  After personally witnessing the melting of glaciers on an assignment for National Geographic, he started a groundbreaking project to document the demise of the world's ice. Called the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog and his team put 27 cameras in place around the world and have taken pictures of glaciers every hour of daylight since.

Watch Chasing Ice. Bring your family, bring your friends, watch it on the big screen if you can. It will fill you with awe for the beauty of ice, admiration for the tenacity of Balog and his crew, and terror at the scale of changes we're creating on earth.

Pollution from mining, drilling and burning fossil fuels

Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water. [ProPublica]

Seven Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states announced plans Tuesday to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, saying it is violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. [Associated Press]

A London Assembly report on air pollution notes that up to 9% of deaths in London can be attributed to man-made airborne particles. [Londonist]

Federal Giveaways to Mining Companies

An analysis from the Government Accountability Office reveals that the government does not keep track of the amount and value of hardrock minerals – gold, silver, copper, etc. – mined on public lands that are being given away to private companies.
Because the government does not collect royalties on these minerals, it claims there is no reason to keep track of this information:
We found that federal agencies generally do not collect data from hardrock mine operators on the amount and value of hardrock minerals extracted from federal lands because there is no federal royalty that would necessitate doing so.
The reason that companies mining hardrock minerals on public lands are exempt from paying royalties is a law passed almost 150 years ago, called the General Mining Act of 1872.  To this day, it is the law of the land when it comes to extracting hardrock minerals from the federal estate.  This means that mining companies are able to extract taxpayer-owned copper, gold, silver, and other minerals for nearly nothing in exchange.

Renewable Energy Growth

Here is one reason for optimism.  More renewable energy generation capacity was brought online this year than any other source of generation capacity. 

Renewable energy accounted for 46 percent of the new generation capacity that came online in the first 10 months of 2012, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whereas natural gas plants' share was 38 percent. As has been the case for several years, wind power accounted for the lion's share of renewables, with 35.8 percent of all new U.S. capacity. In the month of September, 100 percent of the nation's new electricity capacity came from wind and solar. While both renewables and natural gas have thrived, nuclear and coal's overall contribution to the nation's energy supply has been on the decline.

We are starting to make the transition to a cleaner energy future. 

Mayor Bloomberg on NYC's response to Sandy

Mayor Bloomberg made a major speech on December 6th speaking about NYC's plans post Sandy. 

It is a great speech that covers many important points we all need to be thinking about. Here are a few snippets from his remarks. 

"Cities are not waiting for national governments to act on climate change. Whether or not one storm is related to climate change or is not, we have to manage for risks, and we have to be able to better defend ourselves against extreme weather and natural disasters. We don't know whether the next emergency will be a storm, a drought, a tornado or a blizzard, but we do know that we have to be better prepared for all of them."

New Yorkers recognized that the city had to survive and thrive, and we are only going to do that if we adapt. And in each case, New Yorkers put politics-as-usual aside and set a new course that would redefine the future of our city.

We believe that tomorrow can be better than today. And we know that it's up to us to make it so. And rather than talk about it and have plans that never get fulfilled, we're actually doing something.

We created a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan that uses natural methods of capturing rainwater before it can flood our communities and overwhelm our sewage system. 

Even though the City has already revised the building code to strengthen standards for flood protection, we will now do it again. Here's the existing 100-year FEMA and 500-year FEMA flood maps - last updated in 1983. You can see the 100-year flood zone in yellow, and the 500-year flood zone extending out of it in orange. Now, here is where Hurricane Sandy actually flooded, in red.

We have to make our city more resilient in other ways, especially when it comes to our critical infrastructure.

I have directed our sustainability team to assess what it takes to make every essential network that supports our city capable of withstanding a Category 2 hurricane, or a record-breaking heat wave, or other natural disaster. That includes our transportation network, our power network, our gas network, our telecommunications network and our hospital network.

"Many of our key infrastructure networks are run by private companies as you know, but they have contracts, franchises, and licenses to provide public services – and the public does has a right to establish clear benchmarks for their performance in a disaster. ...all of them have been working with the Climate Adaptation Task Force we formed to find ways to harden our critical infrastructure. 

We cannot, in the future, have cell towers that have only eight hours of back-up battery power. That is just not acceptable in the world that we live today. The telephone is our lifeline, the telephone is a lifeline not just to business, but to our own physical security. It has to keep working.

"Record rainfalls in our watershed over the last three summers may sound good to you who are worried about our reservoirs being full, but because the rains were so strong, large portions of our water supply were out of commission for months at a time. 

Record heat in 2011 led to the highest energy-use ever recorded in our city. As I said before, the electric grid held up, but massive voltage reductions were required throughout our power network to keep the lights on. 

"So the work that we'll do will prepare our city for all types of extreme weather is just beginning – and it's not just storms.
"You don't have to be a believer in climate change to understand the dangers from extreme weather are already here. And the risk that climate change is driving these extreme weather patterns must compel us to act – both to prevent climate change and prepare for it."

Tar Sands: Crude Behavior

How bad are the tar sands? This bad

The scale of tar sands devastation is mind-numbing. 

Tar sands are sludge. A sticky, viscous, tarry material that literally oozes from the ground in certain areas of northern Canada and other places like Russia, Venezuela, and even right here in the US. Technically called "bitumen," tar sands can be processed into gasoline and other petroleum products, though it takes more effort and causes a lot more pollution than conventional oil, the liquid we're used to seeing drilled up by rigs in Texas or Saudi Arabia. The cornerstone of the argument against tar sands is that because it requires so much energy to turn from sludge into gasoline, it produces a significantly greater amount of the carbon dioxide which is turning our atmosphere into a heat-trapping blanket and fundamentally altering nearly every ecosystem on Earth. 

It takes about three barrels of water to extract one barrel of oil. More than 90 percent of this water, 400 million gallons per day, ends up as toxic waste dumped in massive pools that contain carcinogenic substances like cyanide.

About 100 trillion gallons of tar sands have been discovered so far.  The vast majority is in Canada, which holds around three quarters of the world total.

December 11, 2012

Next Post-Sandy Challenge: The Sea Of Damaged Cars

Abandoned and flooded cars sit in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 2

Hurricane Sandy wrecked hundreds of thousands of cars all along the New York and New Jersey shorelines, and could cost auto insurers around $800 million. That's not their only problem; disposing of these water-damaged vehicles is not so simple.

There is a lot of work to do; Sandy damaged or destroyed close to quarter of a million vehicles. These cars must be accounted for, moved and disposed of.

Set top boxes - energy hogs

There are more than 160 million set-top boxes in the United States, and they consume about $3 billion worth of electricity a year, two-thirds of it when they are not in use.

In many respects, these boxes are the gas guzzlers of home appliances. Although modest in size, they may be using as much electricity as a new energy-efficient refrigerator, a study last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council found. That's because the drives in the devices are running at full tilt, or nearly so, even when you are not watching or recording a show.

The best solution I've found so far is to plug the set top box, the tv and all the other entertainment equipment into a power strip and flip that switch off when you go to bed at night. Then you know how much power they are using when you and they are asleep - none. 

Mighty Old Trees Perishing Fast

1350 year old oak tree
Mighty old trees are dying at an alarmingly rate from Yosemite to African savanna, the Brazilian rain forest... because of climate change, infestation, disease and changes in fire management, a study warns. 

"It's a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest," said the study's lead author, David Lindemayer, a professor at Australian National University and an expert in landscape ecology and forest management.
The research team found that big, old trees are dying at an alarmingly fast clip around the world at all latitudes – Yosemite National Park in California, the African savanna, the Brazilian rain forest, Europe and the boreal forests around the world.
They described the cause as a combination of factors, from a hotter, drier climate in many places to logging, land clearing, changes in fire prevention and management policies, insect attacks and diseases.
The die-off of these 100-to-300-year-old trees raises concern, the researchers say, because they sustain biodiversity to a greater degree than many other components of the forest. "Big, old trees are not just enlarged young trees," said Jerry F. Franklin of the University of Washington, a co-author of the study who has studied old-growth forest for 45 years. "Old trees have idiosyncratic features – a different canopy, different branch systems, a lot of cavities, thicker bark and more heartwood. They provide a lot more habitat and niches."

Beyond CO2 Reductions

Clean cookstoves can reduce emissions of black carbon. 
We can slow global warming quickly by cutting emissions of four other climate pollutants: black carbon, a component of soot; methane, the main component of natural gas; lower-level ozone, a main ingredient of urban smog; and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are used as coolants. They account for as much as 40 percent of current warming.
Unlike carbon dioxide, these pollutants are short-lived in the atmosphere. If we stop emitting them, they will disappear in a matter of weeks to a few decades. We have technologies to do this, and, in many cases, laws and institutions to support these cuts. Moreover, President Obama has the executive authority to move ahead aggressively on these pollutants, as he did last year in ordering substantial reductions in auto and truck emissions. By doing so, he may persuade other countries to follow.
Such reductions, if they occurred worldwide, would have the potential to slash the rate of global warming by half by midcentury — equivalent to wiping out the warming we have experienced over the last 50 years. These reductions would also prevent an estimated two to four million deaths from air pollution and avoid billions of dollars of crop loss annually, according to a study commissioned by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization.
Reducing short-lived climate pollutants is essential for slowing the pace of climate change in the near term. We can't forget about carbon dioxide. But this strategy would provide Mr. Obama the opportunity to show leadership at home.

Drought Endures into Winter

Arid topsoil from a farm in Kansas, still one of the states hardest hit by the drought. - John Moore

Summer swelter has given way to frost, but nearly two-thirds of the country remains in a drought - 

Just over a quarter of the nation's wheat crop, planted mostly in September and October, was in poor or very poor condition, according to a report released last week by the United States Department of Agriculture. Those are the worst conditions since the department began keeping records in 1986, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the department.

Perhaps the most unusual sign of the nagging drought is the 3,700-acre wildfire raging in the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado.
The fire in Estes Park, which started in October from an illegal campfire, is burning at altitudes of 8,000 to 10,000 feet, on peaks that should be covered in snow right now.
The fire more than doubled in size on Saturday morning after 70 mile-per-hour winds swept through the area, forcing the evacuation of about 600 residences nearby, said Don Ferguson, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

December 8, 2012

Harvard agrees to discuss divestment with students

The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard University leaders will sit down with student advocates of fossil fuel divestment and explore the possibility of creating a social choice fund, senior University officials told The Crimson this week.
Members of the Corporation's Committee on Shareholder Responsibility will meet with students next semester who over the course of the fall have advocated for the University to divest its more than $30 billion endowment from fossil fuels.
When the issue was offered as a referendum during Undergraduate Council elections last month, 72 percent of undergraduates who voted supported divestment.

Corporation members said the University is entertaining the creation of a social choice fund—a fund to which alumni could donate that would be invested with an eye towards Socially Responsible Investment. SRI encourages the incorporation of environmental, social, and governance concerns into the evaluation of investments.

US Annual Energy Outlook

The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) has just issued its Annual Energy Outlook 2013, which highlights a growth in total U.S. energy production that exceeds growth in total U.S. energy consumption through 2040.

The Annual Energy Outlook 2013 offers a number of key findings, including:
Crude oil production, especially from tight oil plays, rises sharply over the next decade. Domestic oil production will rise to 7.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019, up from less than 6 million bpd in 2011.
Motor gasoline consumption will be less than previously estimated. Compared with the last AEO, the AEO2013 shows lower gasoline use, reflecting the introduction of more stringent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Growth in diesel fuel consumption will be moderated by the increased use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles.
The United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas earlier than estimated a year ago. Because quickly rising natural gas production outpaces domestic consumption, the United States will become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2016 and a net exporter of total natural gas (including via pipelines) in 2020.
Renewable fuel use grows at a much faster rate than fossil fuel use. The share of electricity generation from renewables grows to 16 percent in 2040 from 13 percent in 2011.
Net imports of energy decline. The decline reflects increased domestic production of both petroleum and natural gas, increased use of biofuels, and lower demand resulting from the adoption of new vehicle fuel efficiency standards and rising energy prices. The net import share of total U.S. energy consumption falls to 9 percent in 2040 from 19 percent in 2011.

Renewable Energy Capacity Growing

According to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), renewable energy projects — including solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass — made up almost half (46%) of all new power generation installations in the U.S. in the first 10 months of 2012.

Renewable energy generating capacity is now up to 15% of the total installed operating generating capacity in the United States. 

Nuclear Power Cost Overruns

EDF, the French nuclear utility, has warned that the cost of its flagship next-generation atomic reactor in northern France has soared to €8.5 billion, raising fresh concerns about its plan to build a similar plant in the UK. 

EPR under construction in Finland

Originally scheduled to be completed this year for a cost of €3.3 billion, the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) completion was delayed until 2016.

Similar cost overruns and completion delays have plagued Areva's EPR reactor under construction in Finland. Originally planned for operation in 2009, the Finnish reactor's start date has been extended to 2015, six years behind schedule.

Reuters and Bloomberg report estimates of the tariffs needed to make EDF's proposed reactors profitable at these installed costs range from $0.15 to $0.24 per kWh. (€0.12 to €0.19 per kWh)

EDF is the world's largest generator of nuclear powered electricity.

Storm Reports

Click on image for a larger view.
A year after floodwaters eroded sections of the Missouri River basin, exposing two petroleum pipelines and triggering their rupture, federal records suggest the same thing could happen to dozens of others. [Wall Street Journal]

For the third straight season there were 19 named storms in the Atlantic, which is the third-highest level of storm activity observed since 1851….Since 1851, only two hurricane seasons — 2005 and 1933 — have been busier than 2010, 2011, and 2012. [Climate Central]

A parade of strong weather systems dumped nearly 2 feet of rain, at least 40 inches of snow, and brought strong winds equivalent to a Category 4 strength hurricane to parts of California, Oregon and Washington. [Climate Central]

Radar-estimated accumulated precipitation in the West for the seven day period ending on Dec. 3, 2012. Credit: NOAA.

Typhoon Bopha, the strongest tropical storm to hit the Philippines this year, has slammed into a southern island, killing at least six people, destroying homes, cutting power and forcing the cancellation of flights and ferry services, officials said. 

Coal is going to decline

World's Largest Mining Firm: 'In A Carbon Constrained World, Coal Is Going To Decline. And Frankly It Should.' 

One of the world's biggest mining firms says that extreme weather caused by climate change is already impacting some of its assets, thus forcing the company to re-evaluate its investments in the coal sector.
Speaking to investors and analysts on Monday, the Chief Executive of BHP Billiton's coal division explained how the company is reinforcing infrastructure around its coal export terminal in Queensland, Australia because of increases in extreme weather that threaten the facility.
BHP Billiton is one of the largest producers of aluminum, copper, thermal coal, metallurgical coal, nickel, silver and uranium. The Australian company also owns and operates the Hay Point Services Coal Terminal, a coal facility that makes up a large portion of the biggest coal port in the world.
And now that facility is under threat from intensifying extreme weather, says BHP executive Marcus Randolph. His comments were reported in the Australian Financial Review after the company's presentation on its sustainability strategy:
"As we see more cyclone-related events . . . the vulnerability of one of these facilities to a cyclone is quite high," he said. "So we built a model saying this is how we see this impacting what the economics would be and used that with our board of directors to rebuild the facility to be more durable to climate change."
Mr Randolph said the decision was taken after cyclone Yasi hit further north in Queensland in February 2011. "If cyclone Yasi had hit Hay Point, we would have lost that facility," he said. "So it is a recognition that as these cyclones become more severe, we need to have facilities that are more able to withstand them."
Simply reinforcing a coal export facility with extra jetties to withstand an increase in extreme weather caused by carbon pollution from the coal that the company wants to continue exporting isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for sustainability. But this plain-spoken admission that climate change is having a measurable impact now — without trying muddle the science — is very unique for a coal company.
"You couldn't ask for a more surprising source for our basic message: coal causes climate change, climate changes creates more extreme weather, more extreme weather will force us to make huge new investments in trying to protect ourselves," said Carl Pope, former executive director of the Sierra Club, in an email.
In his presentation, Randolph made another stunning comment about the need to address carbon pollution by clearly stating that there is an "absolute ceiling" on emissions that can be pumped into the atmosphere:
BHP's internal target over the next four years is to maintain its greenhouse gas emissions below 2006 levels, adjusted for material acquisitions and divestments. Mr Randolph said the target would stay even if a future government repealed the carbon tax.
"If you look at the targets . . . there is not a qualifier saying it is okay to emit more greenhouse gases if the carbon tax is eliminated," he said. "An absolute ceiling is an absolute ceiling. Even if there isn't a carbon tax, it still needs to be an issue we devote a lot of attention to."
Just one month before, Randolph — the chief executive of the company's coal division — told the Australian Financial Review that he believes the market for coal is going to decline because of environmental constraints, and that "frankly it should":
"In a carbon constrained world where energy coal is the biggest contributor to a carbon problem, how do you think this is going to evolve over a 30- to 40-year time horizon? You'd have to look at that and say on balance, I suspect, the usage of thermal coal is going to decline. And frankly it should."

Chris Hayes on Climate Change

MSNBC's Chris Hayes: 'The Time For Choosing Sides On Climate Change Is Now

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

We need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the nation's infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we've already put into the atmosphere, as well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of our energy production, economy and society to reduce the amount of carbon we'll put into the atmosphere in the future.

...the time for choosing is now. You are either on the side of your fellow citizens and residents of this planet, or you are on the side of the storms as yet unnamed.
You cannot be neutral.
Which side are you on?