Friday, August 28, 2015 - 12:01 • Julie Dermansky

President Obama briefly mentioned climate change during his remarks in New Orlean’s Lower 9th Ward during his visit to New Orleans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Standing in the city’s Lower 9th Ward, Obama spoke instead of the inspiration he had drawn from the city’s “come back” and the resilience of its people.

Obama’s on-off relationship with climate change and the impact it is having on New Orleans is mirrored by his administration’s decisions that contradict the president’s concern.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 09:07 • James Wilt
Lizard Lake wildfire
Lizard Lake wildfire

Smokey haze, intense heat, encampments of evacuated residents next to the highway: these were the conditions that greeted Renee Lertzman when she recently drove through Oregon. It’s no wonder why the environmental psychology researcher and professor resorts to the term “apocalyptic” to describe the scene.

It was a surreal experience,” says Lertzman, who teaches at the University of San Francisco and Victoria’s Royal Roads University. “We’re all driving along and it’s so smoky and it’s terrifying. Yet we’re all doing our summer vacation thing. I couldn’t help but wonder: what is going on, how are people feeling and talking about this?”

It’s really the question of the hour. Catastrophic wildfires and droughts have engulfed much of the continent, with thousands displaced from their homes; air quality alerts confine many of the lucky remainder behind locked doors (with exercise minimized and fresh-air intakes closed).

Firefighters have been summoned from around the world to battle the unprecedented fires, which are undoubtedly exacerbated by climate change. Yet the seemingly reasonable assumption that witnessing such horrific natural disasters may increase support for action on climate change is vastly overestimated, Lertzman tells DeSmog Canada.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest
c Julie Dermansky
c Julie Dermansky

This is a guest post by Evlondo Cooper, senior fellow with the Checks and Balances Project, cross-posted with permission. 

New Orleans has many nicknames: The Crescent City, The Birthplace of Jazz, and The Big Easy. It’s also my hometown but Hurricane Katrina cast me out. In 2005, I was an investigator for the New Orleans district attorney’s office who was invested in making a great city even better. Along with hundreds of thousands of others, I had to flee New Orleans.

This month is the 10-year anniversary of Katrina and its devastating punch, which we now know was made far worse by pollution-driven climate change. I juxtapose its devastation with the potential solutions as this month marks the release of President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, which would cut the very pollution that made Katrina so much worse.

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Friday, August 28, 2015 - 09:33 • Judith Lavoie
Bill Bennett
Bill Bennett

Promises of a closer relationship between B.C. and Alaska and more consultation on B.C. mine applications are a good start, but, so far, Southeast Alaska has no more guarantees that those mines will not pollute salmon-bearing rivers than before this week’s visit by B.C.’s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, say Alaskan fishing and conservation groups.

Bennett, accompanied by senior civil servants from the ministries of Energy and Mines and Environment, took a conciliatory tone as he met with state officials, policy-makers and critics of what is seen as an aggressive push by B.C. to develop mines in the transboundary area, close to vitally important salmon rivers such as the Unuk, Taku and Stikine.

I understand why people feel so strongly about protecting what they have,” Bennett said in a Juneau news conference with Alaska Lt. Governor Byron Mallott.

There’s a way of life here that has tremendous value and the people here don’t want to lose it. I get that,” he said.

But promises of a strengthened dialogue and more opportunities to comment on mine applications fall far short of a growing chorus of Alaskan demands that the issue be referred to the International Joint Commission, formed under the Boundary Waters Treaty, which forbids either country from polluting transboundary waters.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 22:25 • Graham Readfearn
christopher c horner
christopher c horner

A lawyer who has used intimidating legal requests to try to gain access to the records and emails of climate scientists has a financial relationship with a major coal company, it has been revealed.

Christopher Horner, who works with two groups to pursue scientists and environmental regulators, is listed in the bankruptcy papers filed by lawyers on behalf of Alpha Natural Resources and its 150 subsidiary companies in the coal industry.

The Heartland Institute, a “free market think tank” and major promoter of fringe views that greenhouse gases are not a problem for the planet, is also named in the papers, as are other key groups.

Investigative journalist Lee Fang, of news website The Intercept founded by lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, first reported the links in two stories.

Scientists who have been targeted by Horner said they are not surprised to hear a coal company has helped to finance the attacks against them.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 15:10 • Judith Lavoie
Taku Inlet
Taku Inlet

No fish in the car, warned the rental car attendant at Juneau airport, with the weary tone of someone who had cleaned too many fish guts out of returned vehicles. It was a warning underlined by signs in hotels pleading with guests not to clean fish in the hotel bathrooms.

Fishing is in the DNA of Southeast Alaskans, not only as a sport and common way of filling the freezer, but also as a driver of the state economy. So it is not surprising that the perceived threat presented by a rush of mine applications on the B.C. side of the border has brought together diverse groups who want B.C. to give Alaska an equal seat at the decision-making table and to have the issue referred for review to the International Joint Commission.

I can’t conceive of not being able to fish for salmon. The grief would be too much to fathom,” said Heather Hardcastle, co-owner of Taku River Reds who has been commercial fishing for most of her life.

We share these waters and we share these fish. There has to be an international solution,” she said.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 00:08 • Kyla Mandel

Seismic airguns are being fired underwater off the east coast of Greenland to find new oil reserves in the Arctic Ocean. But this activity “could seriously injure” whales and other marine life, warns a new report conducted by Marine Conservation Research and commissioned by Greenpeace Nordic.

The oil industry is increasingly looking towards the region, as oil and gas reserves become more accessible as climate change causes large areas of Arctic sea ice to melt.

Global oil companies including BP, Chevron and Shell all own drilling rights in the Greenland Sea and are the likely customers for the data gathered by the Norwegian geophysical company conducting the seismic testing, TGS-Nopec.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 11:24 • Kevin Grandia

According to publicly available court records, US coal company Peabody Energy recently submitted expert testimony to the Minnesota Public Utilities commission arguing that, CO2 is not harmful and is actually good for the planet” and that “there is no empirical scientific evidence for significant climate effects of rising CO2 levels, and there is no convincing evidence that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will produce catastrophic climate changes.”

These statements and many more were included in “expert” presentations made to the Minnesota Public Utilities commission in June of this year by Roy Spencer and Roger Bezdek, who were both testifying on behalf of Peabody Energy.

The hearings were conducted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission which is investigating the environmental and socioeconomic costs of carbon and greenhouse gases.

Roger Bezdek, an economist and president of a consulting firm called Management Information Services, Inc, offered testimony on behalf of Peabody Energy on June 1, 2015.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 01:53 • Guest

This article by Alice Bell, writer and researcher on science, technology and the environment, has been reposted from The Road to Paris.

It’s less than 100 days before the big UN climate talks in Paris. How does that feel? Concerned, excited, or just a bit meh?

Are we kneeling at the seat of history? Are we finally about to save the planet? Or is it all the same business as usual which we know is already hurtling us to six degree warming? Here’s four reasons to feel good about the Paris climate talks, and four reasons for concern.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 00:01 • Brendan Montague

The global economy was in a death spiral and Britain was at the centre of the financial tornado. The legacy of Chancellor Nigel Lawson – reliance on the deregulated and seemingly craven denizens of the City of London – meant Britain, in particular, was in serious peril.

At the same time, environmental groups and campaigners had finally persuaded the Labour Government to address the serious risk that profit-seeking oil companies posed to the global ecology. The Climate Change Bill passing through Parliament in 2008 would introduce statutory reductions in carbon emissions.

It was at this moment that Lord Lawson, retired to a picturesque and sleepy French village, and conspicuous through his long absences from the House of Lords, decided to stage a remarkable political come back.

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