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Climate News Compilation
Source: Copyright 2001, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Date: June 4, 2001
Byline: Chad Carpenter
1) S-KYOTO ALTERNATIVE TO RELY ON VOLUNTARY CUTS (Washington Post) 2) JAPAN-GOVT WILL STICK TO KYOTO PROTOCOL VOW (Yomiuri Shimbun) 3) EC OUTLINES POST-KYOTO STRATEGY (Financial Times) 4) ITALY-MINISTER DENIES CHANGE OF STANCE (BBC, Financial Times) 5) DENMARK TO RATIFY GLOBAL WARMING TREATY (Reuters) 6) JAPAN-MINISTRY PLUGS GREEN TAX IN WHITE PAPER (Japan Times)
7) EXXON SHAREHOLDERS REJECT PROPOSALS (Washington Post) 8) COMPANIES PLAN GREENHOUSE GAS MARKET (Financial Times) 9) BUSH ADVISERS ON ENERGY REPORT TIES TO INDUSTRY (NY Times) 10) EU TO PROPOSE CO2 TRADE DIRECTIVE LATER THIS YEAR (Reuters) 11) LONG, TOUGH BIRTH FOR GREEN CERTIFICATES (Reuters) 12) NGOS URGE ALLEGIANCE TO KYOTO PACT (Japan Times)
13) PAKISTAN TO SPRAY COAL DUST OVER GLACIERS (Times of India) 14) THAI KING PROMOTES HOMEGROWN 'GREEN' PALM FUELS (NY Times) 15) EUROPEAN NEW CARS' 2000 CO2 EMISSIONS FALL 2.9% (Bloomberg) 16) CANADA-POLLUTION LEVELS POISED TO SOAR (Ottawa Citizen) 17) OECD SAYS PREPARED FOR NEW TALKS ON ATOM ENERGY (Reuters) 18) US-CLIMATE CHANGES RULE SENATE HEARING (Anchorage Daily News)
19) GLOBAL WARMING MELTS AUSTRALIA'S GLACIERS (NY Times) 20) ARCTIC 'GETTING GREENER' (BBC, CNN, Washington Post) 21) RESEARCHERS TEST DISPOSAL OF GASES UNDERGROUND (ABC) 22) SATELLITE PAINTS SMOGGY PORTRAIT OF THE PLANET (CNN, BBC) 23) SOLAR STUDY FOCUSES ON GLOBAL WARMING (Press-Enterprise) 24) ENERGY DEPARTMENT INITIATIVES BACK BUSH PLAN(ENS)
25) SIBERIA FLOODS BRING MORE UPHEAVAL (CNN) 26) CHINESE WATER CRISIS (BBC News)27) GLOBAL WARMING NO THREAT-FLORIDA INSURERS (Palm Beach Post) 28) CHILDREN MOST AT RISK FROM CLIMATE CHANGE (Globe & Mail) 29) MELTING GLACIERS SIGNAL GLOBAL WARMING (Science Daily) 30) RISING SEA-LEVEL WILL SWALLOW SOME COASTLINES(ENN)
ON THE WEB
31) BERKELEY LAB INTRODUCES "ENERGY CRISIS" WEB SITE 32) US SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING ON CARBON SEQUESTRATION 33) NEW REPORT FROM DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
34) A TIGER BY THE TAIL (NY Times) 35) BEHIND THE CLOUDS OF FRIGHT (Washington Times) 36) HARD QUESTIONS ON NUCLEAR POWER (NY Times) 37) SAYING GOODBYE TO THAT THIRSTY SUV (Boston Globe) 38) A CYNICAL ENERGY PLAN (The Progressive) 39) GLOBAL ENERGY CRUNCH-BRAZILIANS HIT DIMMER SWITCH (CSM) 40) GENERATING FOG (Washington Post) __________________________________________________
1) KYOTO ALTERNATIVE TO RELY ON VOLUNTARY CUTS Washington Post June 2, 2001; Page A06 Internet:http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10083-2001Jun1.html
Administration officials preparing an alternative to the 1997 global warming agreement that President Bush disavowed in March are focusing on voluntary measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- an approach unacceptable to most U.S. allies in Europe and Japan. Convinced that mandatory emissions standards such as those in the protocol negotiated and signed by the United States and 167 countries four years ago in Kyoto, Japan, would severely harm the U.S. economy, the Bush administration is considering new approaches that would allow industries to voluntarily meet less onerous targets, according to sources. They would be allowed to do so without having to severely cut back production or incur major costs.
Bush and his advisers would like to have an alternative to the Kyoto accord in hand when the president meets with European Union leaders June 14 and 15 in Gothenburg, Sweden. European leaders were angered by Bush's decision to abandon the global warming agreement without consulting them, and White House aides say Bush would like to demonstrate he cares about the issue even if he objects to the particulars in the accord.
Bush's contemplated alternative is largely premised on the assumption that dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and other gases can be reduced through advances in plant equipment and by creating forests and agricultural areas that absorb, or "sequester," the gases. The administration is also considering proposing adoption of a trading system that would allow large industrial polluters that far exceed emissions standards to buy offsetting "credits" from corporations that pollute very little. "These are all things bandied about inside and outside the White House," a senior administration official said, cautioning that a global warming task force headed by Vice President Cheney has yet to make any formal recommendations.
There were signs this week that, at most, the task force will provide the president with a general outline of a proposal and some guiding principles that he can present to the European leaders in two weeks. "We're working as hard as we can," said Lawrence B. Lindsey, Bush's economic adviser, who is taking a prominent role in the effort. "I think we have to gather more information. We don't understand a lot of the [proposed] mechanisms well, particularly on [carbon] sequestration. . . . We do know new technologies create tremendous opportunities."
Kenneth Dam, deputy Treasury secretary-designate, told visiting Japanese officials Wednesday that the United States would need "a few more months" to produce its response to global warming, according to a spokeswoman for the Japanese Embassy. If that forecast proves to be true, U.S. representatives will have little of substance to put on the table at the next scheduled round of international global warming talks in Bonn in mid-July. The Kyoto global warming treaty marked the first time that the world's industrial nations committed to binding limits on the heat- trapping gases that scientists say threaten catastrophic changes in the planet's climate. Under its terms, the United States would have had to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, and Bush announced in March that he opposed the agreement because it largely exempts developing countries and would harm the economy. All other leading industrial ized countries have also not ratified the accord.
The administration is skeptical about some of the conclusions of recent United Nations studies on the effects of global warming and has asked the National Academy of Sciences for its views. European and Japanese officials are unwilling to scrap the Kyoto protocol, which took nearly a decade to negotiate, and argue that a voluntary compliance treaty negotiated in 1992 has largely failed. European negotiators rejected a number of approaches being considered by the Bush administration -- including carbon sequestration and emission credit swapping -- when the Clinton administration first proposed them in late 1999. Some European leaders have strongly hinted that they might try to forge ahead with the Kyoto treaty, even without the cooperation of the United States, which is responsible for 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions while representing 4 percent of the world's population.
"I don't think you could sell a voluntary program to very many people," said Eileen Claussen, a former Clinton administration State Department official and president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "We've had voluntary efforts . . . and U.S. emissions are 12 to 15 percent above 1990 levels, which tells me a voluntary approach is not sufficient."
See also- Japan Times: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20010604b3.htm Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134302400_warming03.ht ml
GOVT WILL STICK TO KYOTO PROTOCOL VOW Yomiuri Shimbun June 1, 2001
The government has decided to stick to the framework of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in international negotiations on climate change, and will not seek to backtrack on Japan's goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to levels 6 percent below those of 1990, government sources said Thursday. Industrialized countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels under the protocol, which was adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto.
The new U.S. administration, however, declared at the end of March that it would no longer take part in international negotiations for the Kyoto agreement, and would set its own rules. The United States has since been at loggerheads with the European Union, which is set to bring the protocol into effect even without U.S. participation.
Until now, the international community has focused its attention on how the Japanese government would respond, as it had yet to clarify its position. On Monday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furukawa hosted the first meeting to determine the stance the new administration will take on climate change negotiations at the prime minister's official residence. The meeting, attended by bureau chiefs of the Environment Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, agreed to maintain the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.
Specifically, they agreed on the following points:
-- If the Japanese government asks to change the reduction target, which is the core of the protocol, Japan would be internationally criticized.
-- As the host of the COP3 meeting, which adopted the protocol, Japan is not allowed to opt for a completely different framework.
-- So as to bring the United States back to the negotiation table, it is necessary for Japan to clarify its position.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday expressed his strong determination to maintain the protocol during his meeting with leaders of environmental groups working on climate change. "The government will do its best to comply with the Kyoto Protocol," Koizumi was quoted as saying.
EC OUTLINES POST-KYOTO STRATEGY Financial Times May 29, 2001 Internet: http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/articles.html?id=010529005900& query=kyoto
The European Commission outlined its strategy for acting on emissions after the Kyoto Protocol is met, in a proposal released on 15 May. It also hints at radical action in the fields of energy tax, state subsidies in energy, carbon trading and energy efficiency. In the area of energy and climate change, the proposal calls Kyoto "a first step", and says the EU should aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average 1% per year over 1990 levels up to 2010. At EU level, the Commission will propose more ambitious targets for energy taxation aiming at "the full internalisation of external costs", in other words paying for the impact on the environment of energy use. This is a controversial move: defining 'external costs' is very much in the eye of the beholder, and besides the current EU energy tax update has stalled due to political difficulties.
By the end of 2001 a proposal for a European CO2 certificate trading system should be drawn up, the Commission says, to come into effect by 2005. The Commission will also push for a phase-out of subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption by 2010, primarily in coal production and exemptions from energy taxes. It does offer funding to help afflicted coalmining communities find other forms of employment, and admits that some future EU members, like Poland and the Czech Republic, may prove to be special cases.
The sustainability plan includes a proposal this year to boost alternative fuels, including biofuels, to at least 7% of fuel consumption of cars and trucks by 2010 and at least 20% by 2020. Controversially, the proposal links R&D in renewable energy and nuclear energy, particularly the one unsustainable aspect - the management of nuclear waste. Its plans were included in a communication for the EU heads of state to peruse at the Gothenburg European Council, 15-16 June. Its purpose is to act as a call to arms for policy makers and public opinion on the issue of 'sustainable development', which it defines as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Initial reactions were good, with environmental NGOs and governments welcoming the document.
DENMARK TO RATIFY KYOTO GLOBAL WARMING TREATY Reuters June 1, 2001 Internet: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=11041
COPENHAGEN - Denmark`s parliament on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the government to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Treaty on global warming by a sizeable majority. In the 179-seat house, 88 voted for recommending that the government ratify the treaty, nine against with three abstentions. The remaining 79 members of parliament were absent for the vote. The Kyoto Treaty is designed to fight global warming by limiting industrial nations emissions of "greenhouse gases" such as carbon dioxide. The treaty requires nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
Denmark`s actual ratification of the treaty would take place along with that of other European Union member states at a later unspecified date, the environmental and energy ministry said in a statement. The U.S. administration in March effectively abandoned the treaty, with President George W. Bush citing concerns that it did not apply to developing nations and that it would weaken the U.S. economy.
ITALIAN MINISTER DENIES RUMOURS OF CHANGE OF STANCE ON ENVIRONMENT BBC Monitoring Service/Financial Times Jun 4, 2001 Internet: http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/articles.html?id=010604003265& query=%22climate+change%22
Outgoing Environment Minister Willer Bordon has denied rumours of a change in the Italian stance on the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. The minister confirmed Italy's support for the joint EU position of going ahead with the protocol without the USA. The following is the text of a report by Enrico Singer: "Italy's doubts regarding Kyoto protocol", published by the Italian newspaper La Stampa on 2 June:
Brussels: Italy is marking itself off from the rest of Europe on the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions of harmful gases into the atmosphere. The rumour is going the rounds in Brussels, bouncing off a technocrats' meeting onto the desks of the Swedish presidency and, now outgoing, [Italian] Environment Minister Willer Bordon and Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, and triggering a minor diplomatic incident. Bordon is denying it, on Amato's behalf as well: "Italy's stance has not changed. We will go ahead even without the United States, and I myself will confirm our full support for the joint EU position at next Tuesday's Council of Ministers' meeting in Luxembourg." The fact remains that, at the latest preparatory meeting for the Council, the Italian representative stressed that "the United States, without whose participation it would in any case be hard to get results from the Kyoto Protocol, must be constructively involved". It is common knowledge that the Bush administration has decided not to sign the agreeme nt, which it regards as ineffective and detrimental to its economy. The European countries have decided to go it alone and ratify the protocol before the end of 2002, as scheduled. Indeed, the decision is due to be formally adopted at the next European summit, which is to be held in Goteborg on 15 and 16 June. The Swedish presidency is very keen to win this undertaking: It has made the battle for the environment one of the linchpins of its six-month stint chairing the union, which is now drawing to a close.
This is why Sweden expressed "surprise and concern" yesterday at the rumours regarding the Italian "reservation". "This line comes at a late stage in the debate," the EU presidency spokesperson said. Some people have also suggested that the call for "further consideration" to be given to the feasibility of bringing the United States back into the fold might be traceable to a change of line on the part of the future [Forza Italia Chairman, parliamentary election winning centre-Right coalition leader Silvio] Berlusconi government. The WWF [World Wildlife Fund] and the Greens have done so openly, as has Greenpeace: "The reservations voiced by the Environment Ministry as to the community stance on the Kyoto Protocol are extremely serious. The Italian delegation, led by the Ministry's General Director, Corrado Clini, was the only one to decline to back the EU stance on climate change on 29 May, expressing not only a general reservation on the Swedish presidency's whole paper, but additional reservations on specif ic points as well."
However, Bordon has issued clarifications: The call to try as hard as possible to involve the United States was part of the traditional Italian line, but this did not mean that if, as seemed likely, Washington were to persist in its refusal, Europe had to come to a halt on the Kyoto road. "The rumours to the effect that Italy has distanced itself from the joint EU position have perhaps been put about by someone who thinks they are interpreting future wishes," Bordon stated, adding: "Right-wing governments in Europe, such as those of Austria and Spain, agree on ratifying the protocol before 2002 is out, even without the United States. I do not think the next Italian government will jeopardize this unity." However, the debate on the protocol's future remains open. Tuesday will see the pronouncement by the Fifteen's environment ministers in Luxembourg. It will be on the agenda for the US-EU summit in Goteborg on 14 June, which is to be attended by President Bush, and which will be the prelude to the European su mmit on 15 and 16 June, and it will be up for discussion again at the Bonn Conference on the Environment in July, by which time positions will have to be clear-cut.
Source: La Stampa, Turin, in Italian 2 Jun 01 p 12
See also- Independent-UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=75770
ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY PLUGS GREEN TAX IN FIRST WHITE PAPER Japan Times May 30, 2001 Internet: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20010530a7.htm
In its inaugural white paper approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, the Environment Ministry is touting the merits of introducing an environment tax to help put Japan on a more environmentally sustainable path and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The annual environmental policy treatise focuses on creating a more sustainable, recycling-based economy, and fortifying ties with citizens by enhancing communication. The document's central theme is how to achieve "Wa no Kuni" -- a phrase coined by the ministry meaning a recycling-intensive society that doesn't harm the environment. "Wa" does not just mean recycling, Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said. It also connotes interpersonal and international relations, as well as relations with nature.
The paper puts forth a blueprint for Japan to address three key issues: global warming, resource recycling and chemical pollution. "An environment tax could be expected to appropriately reflect the environmental cost in the prices of goods and services and prove a valid way of lowering the environmental impact and emissions of carbon dioxide that result from the socioeconomic activities of individuals," the paper says in regard to global warming.
Japan needs to improve on the recycling front as well, as only 10 percent of materials are currently reused and the nation's landfills are quickly reaching capacity, according to the report. The paper also says that, in order to solve environmental problems on a global scale, Japan should provide developing countries with more technology to help cut pollution levels and save energy. It says Japan should actively make international contributions, in light of the fact that Japan's economy has created environmental hazards overseas via its resource extraction, consumption and waste disposal.
Specifically, the paper calls on the government to increase the volume of official development assistance to help developing countries preserve their environment. It also calls on companies to improve the energy efficiency of electronic components that are exported abroad. The report reiterates the nation's Basic Environment Plan, revised last year, and its four goals -- a sustainable society, coexistence with nature, citizen participation and international contributions to environmental protection -- as the central policy tenets.
Enhanced communication with citizens and a "partnership" will also be crucial if Japan is going to succeed in building a sustainable society, the paper says. The report also diverges from past reports in its format. At 460 pages, this year's white paper is nearly a third shorter than past editions. It is laid out in a larger, easier to read two-column format and departs from the traditional written form by adopting a writing style more readable and accessible to the public, officials said.
EXXON SHAREHOLDERS REJECT PROPOSALS Washington Post May 30, 2001 Internet: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/states/tx/A99281-2001May30.html
DALLAS -- During a meeting marked by protests inside and outside the hall Wednesday, Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders sided overwhelmingly with management in rejecting proposals on the environment and gay rights. Dissidents went home badly defeated, but not until they raised the threat of a U.S. boycott against the world's largest publicly owned oil company. Most of the shareholders sat quietly through more than two dozen speeches, but they roared with approval when chairman and chief executive Lee Raymond announced a 2-for-1 stock split and extra 2-cent per share dividend this summer.
Last year, the Irving-based company earned $17.7 billion on sales of $232.7 billion - both records for a U.S. company. Raymond credited cost savings from the 1999 merger of Exxon and Mobil, which he said could surpass earlier estimates of $7 billion. He did not mention higher prices for crude oil and gasoline.
Raymond also called for an increase in oil exploration - even if conservation reduces the global growth in demand - and continued to oppose immediate steps to counteract global warming, which many but not all scientists link to the burning of fossil fuels. "We support taking concrete, economically attractive actions now to limit greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that does not threaten economic welfare," Raymond said, adding he favored more scientific study, voluntary emission reductions and long-range technological fixes.
For the dissident shareholders who are becoming a fixture at Exxon Mobil meetings, that was not good enough. John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace U.S.A., said the company's refusal to acknowledge the effect on climate change from use of its products "has convinced the world that Exxon Mobil is the face of global warming." British activist Bianca Jagger said consumers would take a dim view of the company's record on climate change and other issues. "We will boycott your products, and we will not put a tiger in your tank," she said, referring to a longtime Exxon advertising slogan.
Last month, Jagger and other environmental activists announced a boycott against Esso, Exxon Mobil's UK subsidiary, because of its refusal to support an anti-global warming treaty called the Kyoto Protocol. Raymond said it was too early to tell if the company's sales were affected. Raymond offered little defense during the meeting. Instead he referred to the proxy statement outlining the company board's opposition to eight shareholder proposals, including one to push renewable energy and another to make an annual report on the possible environmental damage from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Exxon Mobil supports.
All eight proposals lost badly. Only one drew at least 10 percent support - it would have put the company on record opposing discrimination against gays and lesbians. Raymond said the company's general anti-bias policy is adequate. Before the meeting, about 50 protesters rallied across the street from the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, banging drums and listening to speeches. Inside the hall, security was heavy, and two protesters were escorted out when they unfurled a banner and chanted, "Stop Killing for Oil." In trading Wednesday, Exxon Mobil shares rose $1.07, to close at $88.87, on the New York Stock Exchange.
See also- Globe & Mail: http://www.globeandmail.ca/gam/Environment/20010531/IBSOME.html AP: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010530/bs/exxon_mobil_shareholders_2.h tml Exxon Mobil: http://www.exxonmobil.com
COMPANIES PLAN GREENHOUSE GAS MARKET Financial Times May 30 2001 Internet: http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3AJ2Q5CNC &live=true&tagid=YYY9BSINKTM&useoverridetemplate=IXLZHNNP94C
About two dozen US companies - including Ford, DuPont, International Paper and a number of large electricity utilities and farm co-operatives - have agreed to help design a pilot scheme for trading "greenhouse gas" emissions. If the project - called the Chicago Climate Exchange - succeeds, it would be the first broadly based emissions trading scheme in the US.
It reflects concern among some US companies to maintain a momentum on tackling carbon emissions, in spite of the decision by the Bush administration to abandon the Kyoto international agreement on combating global warming. The Kyoto protocol included provisions for an international emissions trading system.
On Tuesday, US congressmen offered bipartisan support. Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrat vice-presidential candidate in last year's election, described carbon trading as "a creative and efficient way of moving toward meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions". He added that he commended the companies "for their willingness to participate in this cutting-edge endeavour".
For the Republicans, Senator Richard Lugar suggested that environmental trading could be "a successful way of reducing the cost of environmental compliance". The US accounts for about a quarter of all emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are widely believed to cause climate change. An assessment of the feasibility of starting a voluntary, Midwest- based market for carbon emissions has been under way at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, Illinois, for several months.
Richard Sandor, in charge of the project and also head of the privately-owned Environmental Financial Products group, said preliminary findings suggested that such a market was feasible and "could be expanded over time". He estimated the design stage would take about 12 months and that the trading system could be ready by mid-2002. The study proposes starting the market in seven Midwest states, including some emission offset projects in Brazil.
Mr Sandor said the Brazilian projects - which could involve re- forestation or wind/solar energy schemes - were partly designed to test the market's international viability. Companies that participated would be issued with tradable emissions allowances, while those companies that emit carbon dioxide would also commit to a phased schedule for reducing their emissions by 5 per cent from 1999 levels by 2005.
Mr Sandor described the 5 per cent goal as a suggested starting proposal, to be considered in the design phase. The businesses would then have the option of cutting emissions directly; buying allowances for other companies that had achieved surplus reductions; or buying credits from agricultural or other offset projects. Mr Sandor said 25 companies and institutions had indicated that they intended to participate in the design phase. These include DuPont, one of the world's largest chemicals companies; Ford, the second-biggest vehicle maker; and utilities such as PG&E, NiSource, Wisconsin Energy and Cinergy.
On the agricultural front, potential participants include Argiliance, the Iowa Farm Bureau and International Paper, one of the biggest private landowners in the US.
See also- The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/business/2001/05/31/FFX36CCZBNC.html Bloomberg: http://quote.bloomberg.com/fgcgi.cgi?T=finer99_auto.ht&s=AOxRUTxZERm9yZC wg
BUSH ADVISERS ON ENERGY REPORT TIES TO INDUSTRY New York Times June 3, 2001 Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/03/politics/03DISC.html
WASHINGTON, June 2 - At least three top White House advisers involved in drafting President Bush's energy strategy held stock in the Enron Corporation or earned fees from the large Texas-based energy trading company, which lobbied aggressively to shape the administration's approach to energy issues.
Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political strategist; Lawrence B. Lindsey, the top economic coordinator; and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, all said in financial disclosure statement released on Friday that they already had or intended to divest themselves of holdings in Enron, the nation's leading trader and marketer of electricity and natural gas, as well as holdings in other energy companies. Mr. Lindsey received $50,000 last year from Enron for consulting. Mr. Rove's statement said he intended to sell stock holdings in Enron valued at $100,000 to $250,000, though the statement does not make clear if he has completed the sale. Mr. Libby sold his stake in the company.
The financial disclosures for senior White House aides show that many of Mr. Bush's top advisers are millionaires. Among the wealthiest are Mr. Rove, Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Libby and Andrew H. Card Jr., the chief of staff, who earned $479,138.77 as chief lobbyist for General Motors and reported assets of $810,000 to $2.1 million.
Mary Matalin, Mr. Cheney's senior counselor and a former political commentator, reported income of more than $1.5 million last year from speaking fees and television appearances. Her husband, James Carville, a Democratic commentator and political adviser, made $2.1 million last year on the speaking circuit, Ms. Matalin's financial disclosure shows.
Enron was one of the largest contributors to Mr. Bush's presidential campaign. Kenneth L. Lay, the chairman, has close ties to Mr. Bush, as he did to Mr. Bush's father, and he has had considerable access to the Bush White House. The administration's energy strategy issued last month recommended opening protected lands to oil and gas drillers, building hundreds of power plants and easing some environmental controls, measures strongly favored by the industry. It suggested that the federal government exercise more power over electricity transmission networks, a longtime Enron goal.
Mr. Lay and other Enron officials interviewed several candidates to fill vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates Enron's main markets. Mr. Bush selected two people for the panel who were favored by Enron and some other energy companies. White House officials have said that Enron's views were not crucial to their selections. "The energy task force had a singular goal to present a plan that best addressed America's energy needs," a White House spokeswoman said. "Any decisions made as part of that process were made with that one goal in mind." The spokeswoman said the White House counsel's office had worked with all officials to ensure they met the highest ethical standards.
Administration links to energy companies are wide ranging. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, had stock holdings of $250,000 to $500,000 in the Chevron Corporation and earned $60,000 as a director of the company in the last year. She resigned her position and sold her shares. Clay Johnson, director of presidential personnel, reported holding a stake in El Paso Energy Partners valued at $100,000 to $250,000. El Paso is a Houston oil and natural gas company. As part of his White House duties, Mr. Johnson has been involved in selecting people to fill vacancies at the energy regulatory commission, which oversees the natural gas market.
There was no indication in his disclosure statement that Mr. Johnson intended to sell his stake in El Paso. The stakes in Enron held by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were part of diversified stock portfolios. Mr. Rove also reported investments in BP Amoco and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as several leading pharmaceutical, technology and financial companies. Mr. Libby, a lawyer, sold tens of thousands of dollars' worth of energy stocks. They included Texaco, Exxon Mobil and Chesapeake Energy as well as Enron.
Mr. Lindsey, the director of the National Economic Council, reported the most ties to major American and international companies. His Washington consulting firm, Economic Strategies Inc., advised 67 leading American, European and Japanese banks and businesses, including American Express and Citibank. Mr. Lindsey was paid an annual salary of $918,785. He also reported $50,000 in consulting fees from Crow Family Holdings, a Dallas real estate concern, and Moore Capital, a leading hedge fund, as well as Enron.
EU TO PROPOSE CO2 TRADE DIRECTIVE LATER THIS YEAR Reuters May 30, 2001 Internet: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=11004
COPENHAGEN - The European Commission said yesterday it will propose in the second half of this year an emissions trading directive allowing the Europe-wide trade of carbon dioxide emission allowances by 2005. "In the second half of this year EU will propose an emissions trade directive so that member states can start planning," Peter Vis, the European Commission's principal administrator on climate changes, said during a two-day Emission and Green Certificates Trading conference. "A lot of schemes are being nurtured in several countries at present and some are waiting to see what EU plans to do," he said.
The new directive will be negotiated and adopted in the 15 member states during 2002 and 2003, implemented by 2004 and the first trading period is planned to start the following year, Vis said. The directive would confirm EU's backing of the United Nations- sponsored deal, agreed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, to cut greenhouse gases - in particular carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels - by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
Emissions trading, which allows countries to trade the right to pollute, is one of a number of "flexible mechanisms" set out in the Protocol to allow them cheaper options than having to change deeply entrenched energy usage at home. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 European member states are striving for an average eight percent reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2010 but doubts have recently been expressed that the EU can meet that target. "The EU will meet its Kyoto commitment. We signed up to minus eight percent and we will get there," Vis said, indicating this would also be the message at the EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June.
PENALTIES AWAIT POLLUTERS The European Commission`s planned CO2 trading scheme, calls for emissions permits - which would be site-specific and non- transferable - and allowances - which would be fully transferable across EU. The commission would determine how and for what value member states allocate them. "At year-end, allowances would have to be held corresponding to actual emissions," Vis said. The system would ensure one price for carbon throughout the European Union.
If the companies do not have enough allowances to cover actual emissions during the previous year, they would be fined per tonne of CO2 in excess by the member state and be required to make up the shortfall at a future date. The scheme would cover electricity and heat generation which between them are estimated to account for 30 percent of CO2-emissions in Europe, Vis said. Initially the trading scheme would only cover CO2 emissions but the ultimate objective is for the trading system to cover all greenhouse gases. Vis said that to begin with prices for CO2 allowances would be low.
"Governments will start being a little more generous than later on. The price for emission allowances will not be that high, but eventually they will be due to scarcity of allowances," he said. Denmark is the only country in the world which currently trades emission allowances, albeit on a small-scale, and Britain plans to implement its own scheme next year, Vis said. The Netherlands plans to set up a CO2-trading system by 2004-2005.
EXPERTS SEE LONG, TOUGH BIRTH FOR GREEN CERTIFICATES Reuters May 31, 2001 Internet: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=11015
COPENHAGEN - Trading in green certificates is currently sparse and prices are dropping due to lack of buyers, experts said yesterday. "Why should there be any demand? Nobody needs green certificates, no rules, no regulations, " said Garth Edward, principal at the energy and environmental market desk at Natsource during a two-day conference on Emission and Green Certificate Trading in the Danish capital.
Green certificate prices have dropped from their highest level of 15-16 euros and are currently at around 3-4 euros. One certificate is issued for one megawatt hour of electricity generated by renewable energy sources. At present the main obstacle against green certificates trading is the large supply and the modest demand and the price trajectory is downwards, Edward said.
However, in coming years the market may expand as European governments start to require companies to buy a certain amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Spokesman at the Netherlands Research Foundation (EC) Gerrit Jan Schaeffer said several European countries, notably Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain, would start green certificate trading this year and in coming years.
And in every one of the above seven countries - apart from the Netherlands - governments will set obligations for the use of green energy, sparking demand for green certificates. Schaeffer said green certificate prices in the long run would lie at around six eurocent per kilowatt hour. In the shorter term, green certificate prices would be set by the penalty rate - for not complying to obligations - in big countries like Italy and Britain, around five eurocent per kilowatt hour.
Another hindrance to green certificate trading is the lack of mutual agreement between countries on certificates trading. A voluntary Europe-wide initiative to implement a Renewable Energy Certificate System (RECS) is on its way to set the framework for certificate trading with so far around 90 companies participating. "Each country works on its own kind of green certificate trading system, but it's very unlikely these systems will be compatible," said Hans-Erik Kristoffersen, member of RECS presidium and economist at electricity companies association Danish Energy.
Another player, Nordic power bourse Nord Pool, is close to entering the green certificate trading scene, with hopes of launching a green certificate trading scheme by autumn, although no decision has been made yet.
NGOS URGE ALLEGIANCE TO KYOTO PACT Japan Times 31 May 2001 Internet: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20010531b4.htm
In a rare meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, representatives from environmental organizations urged the government to go ahead with an international agreement to cut greenhouse gases with or without the participation of the United States. Koizumi urged the NGO members not to give up on the U.S. resuming negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, the international accord on greenhouse gas reduction agreed to in Kyoto in December 1997, representatives from Kiko Network told reporters.
The meeting marked the first time a prime minister has met with NGO members to discuss global warming. During the 15 minute talk at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, NGO members said Japan could play a major role in bridging gaps between the European Union and the U.S., which disavowed the protocol in March, and called on Koizumi to announce that Japan will push ahead with greenhouse gas reductions under the document independently if necessary.
PAK PLANS TO SPRAY COAL DUST OVER GLACIERS FLAYED Times of India 30 May 2001 Internet: http://www.timesofindia.com/today/30hlth1.htm
NEW DELHI: An international body of scientists has shown concern over media reports that Pakistan is going ahead with its plan of melting ice in the Indus basin water glaciers by spraying coal dust, saying the process will affect ecology and end perennial flow of rivers in the region, including India. "Pakistan plans to spray coal dust over these glaciers to increase water flow without any scientific study on its possible impact. It would enhance the impact of global warming," member of the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI), which includes top scientists of the world, Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain, said.
Water flow from these glaciers had already increased due to global warming, he told PTI adding spraying of coal would hasten the melting of these glaciers. The major consequence for the two countries by Pakistan's act would be unmanageable water flow followed by dearth of water in the river systems fed from these glaciers, he said. Some areas might be submerged by artificial flood, he said adding melting would depend on how fast coal dust is sprayed.
However, Pakistan would be affected more as it has no other source of water and not much monsoon. The process would affect the perenniality of rivers fed by these glaciers, he said. In India, the effect would be more visible in states adjoining Pakistan like Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. It would also disturb the ecosystem with vanishing of many plant and animal species, he said adding the process would lead to desertification of region.
The glaciers in question belong to Himalayas. Pakistan should not go ahead with its plan unless some scientific study is done," Hasnain said. Against the melting of glaciers in 10-15 years, with coal dust spray it would occur as fast as within five years, he said. Besides, ice in these glaciers belong to ice ages of more than 10,000 years ago and once it melts, there would not be any ice in these glaciers as conversion of ice from snow flakes takes a number of years, he said. Spraying of coal dust and consequent melting of ice would increase the temperature and prevent ice formation.
Glaciers systems throughout the world, including that at poles, are melting due to global warming. India and Pakistan being in the subtropical region are more vulnerable to this global change in temperature. The level of glaciers all over the world had started decreasing during 1850's but since the last decade this process has enhanced and affected glaciers more in this region because of the subtropical location.
"Our glaciers are already not getting enough ice due to increase in temperature as 80 per cent of them take snow from summer monsoon. At high altitudes, rain falls in form of snow, but with increase in temperature, the quantity of snow decreases in high altitudes," he said. Eighty per cent water in Ganga, Indus and Brahmputra river systems comes from glaciers. While Ganga feeds India, Indus river system is shared by both India and Pakistan. In the natural process, ice melts in summer, thus increasing the flow of water when needed.
THAI KING PROMOTES HOMEGROWN 'GREEN' PALM FUELS New York Times June 3, 2001 Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/technology/tech-energy-thailand-.html?sea rchpv=reuters
BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters) - Portraits of the king that already adorn almost every building in Thailand could soon be helping to sell cheap, clean fuel at Thai gasoline stations. When King Bhumipol Adulyadej personally patented a palm oil formula at the beginning of May, many analysts speculated a clean fuel craze could sweep Thailand. High oil prices and the lingering effects of an economic crisis were already persuading many Thais to explore palm oil, coconut oil and ethanol as cheap alternatives to diesel. But the highly revered king's stamp of approval could turn royal palm oil pumps into reality, green campaigners say.
``This is definitely a positive move,'' said Jiragorn Gajaseni, chief executive of Greenpeace Thailand. ``Biodiesel hasn't been promoted by the government or other agencies, which are focusing on fossil fuels. With the king's interest, we will see much more emphasis on clean energies.'' Palm oil is extracted from the yellow fruit of the palm tree, which grows abundantly in countries near the equator such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Colombia and Nigeria. The oil is used mostly for cooking and making margarine and cosmetics.
The state-run Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), which has been conducting tests for the king, says palm oil, when mixed with diesel, can also power vehicles. Sawang Boonyasuwat, director of the PTT Research and Technology Institute, says with little regulation over what people put in their engines the Thai public can easily copy the cost-saving formula. ``Crude palm oil prices are about eight baht (17 cents) at the moment, while diesel is 15 baht per liter, so this will be widely used because it's cheap, and people can make the fuel themselves,'' Sawang said. ``But we have to advise the public on the right formula to use.''
He said research found a formula of one part crude palm oil to nine parts diesel did no harm to engine performance. If purified palm oil is used, its share in the mix can be increased to 30 percent. Some researchers say the petroleum industry is underplaying the benefits of palm oil in order to protect its fossil fuel interests.
LESS AIR POLLUTION FROM PALM OIL ``Many people in southern Thailand have been using 60 percent palm oil mixtures for years in factory engines and vehicles,'' said Chatchawal Wat-Aksorn, an independent researcher with links to the king's alternative fuel projects. ``People respect the king and if he says something is good, they will trust it. It's good that he's coming out to promote alternative fuels, because the petroleum business is trying to protect their own business, '' Chatchawal said. He said the king's patent meant the palm oil formula would ''belong to the people'' and would help in marketing the fuel.
Greenpeace's Jiragorn said palm oil would cut down hazardous exhaust emissions, particularly carbon dioxide -- one of the causes of global warming. ``Tests have shown there's less air pollution from palm oil, almost no carbon dioxide because combustion is more complete, less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, and no sulfur emissions at all,'' he said.into the ``back to basics'' self-sufficiency philosophy the king put forward after a 1997 currency crisis rocked the economy. ``Palm oil is also very efficient because byproducts (from the palm fruit) can be used for animal feed,'' said Jiragorn. ''And by using local products we could see an increase in agricultural product prices and less dependence on international markets.''
The king's move has already brought a reaction from the Thai government, which has said it would ask PTT to assist with mass- producing palm oil fuel. Many politicians are also calling for a complete tax exemption for palm oil fuel. Malaysia, which accounts for more than half the world's palm oil production, and Indonesia are also developing palm oil fuel. Sweden, Brazil, Australia, Canada and Mexico are using ethanol, which can be produced from cane sugar and from palm and coconut trees.
EUROPEAN NEW CARS' 2000 CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS FALL 2.9% Bloomberg 30 May 2001 Internet: http://quote.bloomberg.com/fgcgi.cgi?T=finer99_auto.ht&s=AOxTQshLtRXVyb3 Bl
Brussels, May 30 (Bloomberg) -- European carmakers reduced their new cars' emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, by an average 2.9 percent last year, an industry group said. The amount of carbon dioxide produced by new cars fell to 169 grams per kilometer on average in 2000 from 174 grams per kilometer the year before, the European carmakers' association, or ACEA, said in a faxed press release.
Carmakers are developing cleaner power systems, such as fuel cells and gasoline engines with electric motors, to meet stricter pollution rules in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Automakers in Europe have pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a further 17 percent to 140 grams per kilometer by 2008. Car companies ``will continue to gear massive research and product and process development'' efforts to reach the 140 gram target, said Paolo Cantarella, ACEA president and chief executive of Fiat SpA's auto business.
The ACEA said the number of new cars that produce 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer rose by 80 percent last year to 160,000 vehicles, about 1.2 percent of the cars sold in Western Europe in 2000. Carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels, such as gasoline. Climate change caused by burning the fuels probably will melt half of Europe's glaciers this century and put U.S. Atlantic coastal cities at higher risk of floods, a United Nations scientists' panel said earlier this year.
POLLUTION LEVELS POISED TO SOAR, SUZUKI WARNS Ottawa Citizen 2 June 2001 Internet: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/010602/5097415.html
Canada's promise to cut greenhouse gases will go up in smoke if plans proceed to extract oil from the Alberta tar sands and build coal-fired power plants, a new report by the David Suzuki Foundation says. The report, released yesterday, found that Canada will spew out 827 megatonnes (million tonnes) of greenhouse gases yearly by 2010, if the oil and gas boom continues unabated. That far exceeds Canada's Kyoto target of 575 megatonnes.
"We're completely off-track in meeting our international commitments," said Gerry Scott, climate change director at the Suzuki Foundation. "The government is telling the world we will do our part in climate protection. Yet the approach that's being taken will violate those commitments." But Environment Canada maintains that the country will meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gases. "We are committed," said Kelly Morgan, spokeswoman for Environment Minister David Anderson.
Three respected reports by international scientists this year warned of the dangers of climate change caused by greenhouse gases. The reports predicted that global temperatures will rise and tidal waves and hurricanes will increase. Droughts will hit the prairies, water levels will drop in the Great Lakes and whole ecosystems will be disrupted in the Arctic by melting permafrost and changing ice and snow patterns.
To head off the climate disruption attributed to greenhouse gases, Canada signed the Kyoto protocol in 1998, promising to reduce the country's yearly greenhouse-gas emissions to 575 megatonnes in 2010, down from 612 megatonnes in 1990. But so far, Canada has come nowhere near its aims. Instead, emissions have risen to 694 megatonnes a year. Government statistics in 1999 predicted that, if business as usual continued, emissions would rise to 764 megatonnes by 2010. Now, the Suzuki Foundation report predicts that emissions will rise even more -- to 827 megatonnes -- driven by a hungry U.S. energy market.
The report looked at the impacts of three new coal-fired power plants planned in Alberta; a variety of new extraction projects planned in the tar sands; and the growth in natural gas exploitation to meet the U.S. energy market. Using standard figures developed by the industry, policy analyst Dermot Foley calculated the emissions caused by extracting and processing these fuels in Canada, then added those new emissions to the government's 1999 projections.
Matthew Bramley, a climate change researcher at the environmental research think-tank Pembina Institute, said the numbers in the Suzuki report are "entirely credible." "The prime minister needs to explain to Canadians how he's going to meet the Kyoto target and fuel this expansion," Mr. Bramley said. But Ms. Morgan said the Suzuki report's numbers are likely inflated, since the 1999 government projections already took into account anticipated growth in the oil and gas industry.
"Most of these projects are included in the business-as-usual projections," she said. Ms. Morgan said greenhouse-gas emissions will actually be lower than the government's 1999 projections, thanks to a $500-million program launched last fall. The program aims to curb greenhouse-gas emissions through initiatives such as the development of alternative fuels, fuel efficiency, public transit and planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide. According to government estimates, the plan will bring Canada's emissions to 698 megatonnes in 2010, taking the country partway toward meeting its Kyoto target.
"This is worth a debate," said Stewart Cohen, a climate-change scientist at the University of British Columbia's Sustainable Development Research Institute. "What is an appropriate energy future?" he said. "Do you just jump at the supply issue to deal with a shortage in the U.S.? Or do you push the hydrogen-powered vehicles, push the wind power? That's the kind of dialogue that has to happen."
OECD SAYS PREPARED FOR NEW TALKS ON ATOM ENERGY Reuters May 29, 2001 Internet: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=10988
BERLIN - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday called for a new debate on the future of nuclear energy in the context of climate problems linked with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Nuclear energy, which produces no climate damaging CO2, accounts for a higher share in the energy production of many industrialised countries than conventional fuels. But Germany plans to phase out atomic energy by 2020.
"In view of the expected dramatic increase in carbon dioxide emissions, there must be a new weighing up of the risk between nuclear energy and the results of climate changes," OECD Deputy General Secretary Herwig Schloegl said yesterday in Berlin. The result could be a discussion on a new assessment of the use of nuclear energy, he added. However, there were still serious risks associated with nuclear energy regarding how to permanently dispose of atomic waste, Schloegl said. If the climate policy of OECD countries is unchanged their CO2 output will increase by around a third by 2020. And the energy needs of developing countries is increasing.
This could lead to a serious consequences for the climate, such as the warming of the earth's atmosphere and increased sea levels, Schloegl said. The use of nuclear energy could not be considered without climate development, he added. Industrialised countries are committed through the Kyoto Protocol to cut their CO2 emissions by five percent on 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The US, however, has withdrawn from the agreement, saying that ratifying the protocol would harm the US economy. An international climate protection summit is due to meet in Bonn in July to discuss the implementation of the Kyoto agreement.
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGES RULE SENATE HEARING Anchorage Daily News May 30, 2001 Internet: http://www.adn.com/nation/story/0,2360,270644,00.html
Fairbanks -- A long line of scientists and the heads of the nation's leading science agencies Tuesday urged Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens to shift the focus of U.S. climate research north. The Arctic -- among the least studied regions in the world -- is the first place on the planet to feel the effects of climate change, the researchers said. Understanding what is happening there is key to understanding global climate changes. The Arctic is experiencing warming now, as evidenced by the steadily shrinking polar ice cap and melting permafrost. But scant weather stations, inaccessibility and difficult conditions have put off data collection for decades, Stevens was told during a Senate committee hearing he chaired at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"I believe it's crucial that we do that," said Dan Goldin, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "We at the federal agencies need to look at changing our priorities and put more of an emphasis here." Panelists included the acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey and experts from the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute and International Arctic Research Center.
Villagers along the Arctic Ocean already see evidence of climate changes every day, said Caleb Pungowiyi, president of a nonprofit foundation established by NANA Regional Corp. "These are changes that have gone unnoticed by the policymakers and scientists," Pungowiyi said. "It seems that we must experience the wholesale disaster or economic chaos before the policy makers take notice." The sky isn't as blue as it used to be, obscured frequently by a strange white haze, he said. The shrinking ice cap is forcing marine mammals and other sea life away from shore, so hunters must travel out farther.
Because the protective pack ice forms later and softer, storms that batter the coast eat great chunks of land away around Barrow and the villages of Kivalina, Point Hope and Shishmaref. Stevens carefully stepped around any reference to global warming on Tuesday. "I don't endorse or denounce the concept," he said. "I'm still in the process of finding out what's going on." Tuesday's hearing was the last Stevens will conduct as head of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a week, he will step down as control of the Senate shifts to the Democratic Party. Nonetheless, he pledged to keep the issue of Arctic climate change a priority for funding.
"It takes me back to the Reagan years: Trust but verify it," Stevens said during a press conference. "We're going to verify it." Several researchers said current climate changes likely stem from a combination of factors including natural variation and human activity. "We don't know whether this change is part of a cycle or is following a long-term, possibly irreversible trend," said Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation. Scientists agree that the world's temperature rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, an increase unprecedented during the last 1,000 years. The Arctic warmed as much as 7 or 8 degrees in that time, Goldin said.
The pack ice that normally insulates coastal villages from winter storms shrinks 3 percent a year, as it has since the 1970s, scientists said. Arctic sea ice is 40 percent thinner than it was 30 years ago, while snow melts in Barrow 40 days earlier in the same time period. Cruise ships want permission to travel the Northwest Passage, seasonally ice-free for the last three years. That change also brings the possibility of commercial shipping -- including oil tankers -- through that route. Forests are moving north and west as the permafrost melts, a potential resource for the timber industry, according to Charles Groat, the director of USGS.
Scientists say they need more Arctic climate research funding in several areas, including:
More satellites, weather buoys and stations to gauge the extent of climate changes in the Arctic and improve the accuracy of computer models currently used to predict the way climate change will pan out across the world.
Establishing to what extent climate change stems from human activities such as vehicle emissions and industry as compared to natural fluctuations.
Better computer systems. The U.S. lags behind Europe and Japan in global models, partly because some countries aren't sharing data freely but also because U.S. researchers don't have access to Japanese computers best suited for the task.
It's unclear how much money Arctic research involves but it would likely take millions of dollars for each agency over a period of years.
Stevens also is weighing immediate requests for money to address flooding at airstrips in a few coastal villages battling erosion.
GLOBAL WARMING MELTS AUSTRALIA'S GLACIERS New York Times May 31, 2001 Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/science/science-environment-g.html?search pv=reuters
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's glaciers are melting. In the land of outback deserts this is not as strange as it sounds. Scientists say the shrinking of Australia's little-known glaciers on remote, sub-Antarctic Heard Island in the Indian Ocean reveals global warming now stretches from the tropics to the edge of Antarctica.
``The recession of many glaciers during the past 50 years has been unprecedented in modern times for Heard Island,'' glaciologist Andrew Ruddell, with the Australian Antarctic Division, told Reuters on Friday. ``We can expect that with a warming world that this will progress further south. When we see warming going on this far south, we are always concerned about the Antarctic,'' he said. Antarctic temperatures, averaging around minus four to plus 14 degrees Fahrenheit, are still far too cold to show any significant effect from global warming.
``But we have seen break up of ice shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula region, and that is getting into the zero degree range because it is further north, so there is a slight change there,'' said Ruddell. A five-month Australian scientific expedition to Heard Island which ended in March discovered global warming was dramatically changing the island's harsh and hostile environment. Since 1947 the temperature has risen 1.3F causing glaciers to melt rapidly. The island's 34 glaciers have decreased by 11 percent in area and 12 percent in volume -- half the loss occurred in the 1980s.
Brown Glacier was 3.9 miles long in 1947, but has retreated three quarters of a mile by 2000, losing more than 26 percent of its area. The Jacka Glacier is half its length and the Stephenson Glacier has lost 27 percent of its area, exposing part of its bed rock.
SIGNIFICANT RETREAT ``It's a very significant retreat. Glaciers are very sensitive to climate change,'' said Ruddell. ``The rate of retreat is similar to New Zealand alps and European alps and Central Asia.'' Recent studies of glaciers and ice caps in Tibet, Africa and Peru have shown dramatic reductions over the past few years due to global warming. Photographs of Kenya's Mount Kilimanjaro in February showed its had lost 82 percent of its ice since 1912 and scientists calculate Kilimanjaro will lose its snow between 2010 and 2020.
Scientists say Heard Island, discovered by U.S. captain William Heard in 1853 and a former fur-seal hunting site, is an ideal laboratory to study climate change as it is perched on the edge of the Polar zone and isolated from the effects of human habitation, unlike the densely populated tropics. They say the rapid animal and vegetation colonization of Heard Island as glaciers melt is further indicator of the extent of global warming now in the sub- Antarctic.
King penguins numbers have exploded from only three breeding pairs in 1947 to 25,000 in 2001. The fur seal population has recovered from near extinction to now number more than 28,000 adults and 1,000 pups. The island also has a lush green carpet of cushion plants and a member of the rose family is thriving. ``I didn't recognize it,'' said the Australian Antarctic Division's chief plant scientist Dana Bergstrom, who returned to Heard Island on the expedition after a 14-year absence. ``I was walking across sites that I had previously crawled across. What was barren ground had cushion plants growing over them,'' she said. ``From an Antarctic perspective it is dramatic.''
ARCTIC 'GETTING GREENER' BBC News 30 May 2001 Internet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1360000/1360549.stm
Scientists in Alaska say that new vegetation is spreading over the tundra as the climate gets warmer. According to aerial photographs, the amount of greenery has doubled in some areas over the past 50 years. The researchers suggest that new growth of shrubs and forest in the world's far northern regions could go some way towards offsetting the spread of deserts in the tropics. But they warn that the Arctic regions cannot be expected to compensate for all the unpredictable effects of climate change.
Bleak landscape When the north of Alaska was being explored for oil in the late 1940s, thousands of aerial photographs were taken of the bleak tundra north of the Arctic circle. Cold-climate researchers from the United States' Army have now flown again over some of the locations to compare the extent of the the deciduous shrubs that grow there, beyond the northern limit of full-size trees.
At most of the sites, there were definite and sometimes dramatic increases in the size of individual shrubs - mostly alder, birch and willow - and also in the area they covered. In some cases, shrub cover of 10% had doubled since the first surveys. "Our study area is in a location where human and natural disturbances are minimal," the researchers write in the scientific journal Nature, "so we attribute much of the increase in the abundance of shrubs to the recent change in climate". The scientists say the extra biomass could absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide - the most common greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
'Unpredictable effects' Studies of ancient peat deposits suggest that the same thing happened 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age. Even with the extra plants - which are too small to be valuable as timber - the region beyond Alaska's northernmost mountains could support few people. If vegetation at lower latitudes, such as agricultural crops, also moves north in response to global warming, more farmland might be developed in areas that are now wilderness. But the researchers stress that the Arctic regions cannot be expected to compensate for all the unpredictable effects of climate change.
See also- CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/05/30/alaska.shrub/index.html Washington Post: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/states/ak/A98105-2001May30.html Associated Press: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010530/ts/arctic_shrubbery_1.html
RESEARCHERS TEST DISPOSAL OF GREENHOUSE GASES UNDERGROUND Australian Broadcasting 4 June 2001 Internet: http://www.abc.net.au/news/state/sa/archive/metsa-4jun2001-10.htm
Australian researchers are testing whether greenhouse gases can successfully be disposed of by pumping them underground. The method is being hailed as one of the most practical, economical and environmentally-sustainable solutions to the worldwide problem.Scientists predict greenhouse gas emissions could cause global warming of between two and four degrees Celsius over the next century.
Carbon dioxide "sinks" are currently being trialled in the North Sea, off Norway and as part of an international research effort, the National Centre for Petroleum Geology and Geophysics in Adelaide will investigate several potential sites in Australia. Robert Root from the University of Adelaide the technique is very environmentally safe."One of the advantages of the technique is that we can dispose of very large quantities of CO2," he said.
"There's a certain type of environmental justice in putting the CO2 back where it came from."
See also-- ENN: http://enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?id=4505
SATELLITE PAINTS SMOGGY PORTRAIT OF THE PLANET CNN May 30, 2001 Internet: http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/05/30/terra.pollution/index.html
(CNN) -- Watching colossal plumes of smog drift across continents and oceans, a NASA satellite has produced the most comprehensive view ever of air pollution on the planet. Monitoring carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere over time, the Terra orbiter demonstrates that pollutants respect no national boundaries. Forest fires in Africa and South America hurl heavy concentrations of smoke as far as Australia. Factories and fires in Southeast Asia do the same to North America.
"With these new observations you clearly see that air pollution is much more than a local problem. It's a global issue," said John Gille, a Terra researcher with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Gille and colleagues unveiled the new Terra images at an American Geophysical Union meeting on Wednesday in Boston. Terra measures carbon monoxide in the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere between two and three miles above the Earth's surface.
There, the pollutant interacts with other gases to form smog, which can move higher in the atmosphere and travel great distances or waft downward to the surface, where it can settle into the lungs of humans and animals. In Terra's color-coded images, bright red areas depict the highest concentrations of carbon monoxide. The red zones wax and wane in hot spots like central Africa, the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and occasionally North America and Europe. In those regions, industries and fires, both natural and manmade, spawn plumes of carbon monoxide that stretch over entire oceans.
Much of the Northern Hemisphere seems gripped with a permanent greenish fog, evidence of a persistent if slightly weaker case of carbon monoxide poisoning. In North America, the changing blobs of color document the summer smoke of forest fires in the West and the winter trail of fossil fuel emissions in the East. While Terra cannot discern individual pollution sources, the spacecraft can distinguish air pollution from particular metropolitan areas and forests. About 50 percent of world carbon monoxide emissions come from human activities, NASA researchers said.
By tracking carbon monoxide, a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels or organic matter such as wood, scientists can indirectly track the movements of related pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. The flagship of NASA's Earth Observing System, Terra launched in December and began collecting science data in late February.
See also-- BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1359000/1359917.stm
SOLAR STUDY FOCUSES ON GLOBAL WARMING Press-Enterprise 5/30/2001 Internet: http://www.inlandempireonline.com/news/stories/053001/solar30.shtml
It's just a little observatory. Perched on the tip of a manmade strip of land that extends 200 yards from the shoreline, the white dome and the building that supports it look almost toylike compared with larger observatories such as Griffith Park or Mount Palomar. But the work that's being done at the Big Bear Solar Observatory may well affect the future of the world, at least in terms of what the human populace decides to do about global warming.
Phillip Goode, the physicist who heads the New Jersey Institute of Technology team that runs the observatory, doesn't really look as if he fits his role either. No white coat. No wild hair. No pipe in his teeth to denote an air of eccentricity. Goode wears a baseball cap over his moderate-length blond hair, gold-rimmed glasses and a coffeehouse-casual attire. Unassuming as he appears, Goode and his colleagues are in the midst of a study to determine the health of the Earth's climate. They are measuring how much sunlight is reflected by our globe.
The idea is this: Scientists know that the Earth has warmed by 3 to 4 degrees over the past 100 years. There are essentially two possible culprits. The first -- and the one that has received the most attention in recent years -- is industrial or greenhouse gases that scientists believe trap sunlight and thus warm the atmosphere. The second is the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, regardless of the condition of our air.
"Even the people who argue that all of the global warming comes from greenhouse gases know there are a number of areas that are poorly understood," Goode said. If the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, rather than being reflected, is even 1 percent greater than it was 100 years ago, that alone could account for the global warming scientists have observed, Goode says. Knowing more about long-term weather patterns, an area for which there is little data, could reveal how large a factor is played by variations in reflected sunlight. "The story is a story of clouds," Goode said. About 30 percent of the sunlight reaching the Earth is reflected back into space, and clouds are responsible for most of that. So, he says, if a greater amount of cloud cover 100 years ago was part of the Earth's normal long-term weather pattern, we should expect to see higher temperatures.
Despite the fact that this is a solar observatory, the work on this project takes place at night. Goode and his colleagues train their telescope on the moon to measure the intensity of what they call earthshine. You've seen this, whether you realize it or not. When you look at a crescent moon on a clear night, your eye can make out the entire disk of the moon, even the part that is dark. What illuminates the dark side of the moon is sunlight reflecting off the Earth, a phenomenon that Leonardo da Vinci figured out several hundred years ago.
A group of French scientists did some earthshine measurements in the 1920s, Goode says, but the idea was set aside. "It was kind of forgotten," he said. "We started it again in the '90s. Steven Koonin pushed for it." Koonin is a theoretical physicist at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Cal Tech used to own the observatory and studied earthshine from 1994-1995, but then funding dried up. In 1997, Cal Tech sold the observatory to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Goode took over the facility. Goode says he had heard about the earthshine project when it was first under way, and was intrigued. "It was so appealing, I had to find a way to bring the program back to life," he said. "I thought it was such a great thing, I went to NASA, and they said, `Yeah, we think it's a great thing. Here's some money.' Of course it wasn't that simple." But the funding came, and, in 1998, the program began again and has been ongoing ever since.
Although Goode doesn't expect the program to produce definitive data for another two to three years, already there have been some interesting findings. "We've been surprised by the large seasonal difference in the reflection," he said. "It changes about 20 percent." With more cloud activity, the spring brings the highest reflectivity readings, Goode says. In addition, the numbers can change radically in a short period of time. "Sometimes the reflectance of the whole Earth will change by 10 percent in an hour," he said. "And it's just the sun coming up on a cloudy Asia. The (average) reflectivity can change 5 percent day-to-day because of cloud cover. You have to look at it over a long period of time to see trends."
The solar cycle also comes into play. "The sun was much less magnetically active 100 years ago," Goode said. "So perhaps the Earth was cloudier and cooler." While the data is being collected at Big Bear Lake, three other observatories -- one in Hawaii and two in the Canary Islands -- also are making earthshine measurements. Goode says three other observatories are expected to join the effort soon. Those observatories are in Crimea, Siberia and China. Eventually, he hopes robot telescopes in Hawaii, Australia, Uzbekistan, Crimea, the Canary Islands and Chile will contribute to the program. "We'll have a four-station network by the end of summer," Goode said. "We'll be able to see (reflection from) the whole Earth. We'll have data coming in at three times the rate we do now."
Which should, in two or three years, provide some definitive data. If it turns out that the earthshine variations are large, he said, "You can imagine all kinds of conclusions. It could be an uproar." Right now, he won't even make a guess at what the results might be. "I'm really curious to know."
ENERGY DEPARTMENT INITIATIVES BACK BUSH PLAN ENS 1 June 2001 Internet: http://ens.lycos.com/ens/jun2001/2001L-06-01-06.html
WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2001 (ENS) - Despite objections from Democrats and environmentalists, the Energy Department is moving ahead rapidly with actions to support the Bush Administration's long term energy plan. Alongside efforts to reinforce the nation's electric grid and natural gas network, the agency is also working to boost research into alternative energy sources. This week, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham called for new investment in electrical transmission infrastructure and interstate natural gas pipeline projects, funding for new nuclear energy projects, and reviews of renewable energy research and development programs.
During a visit to Con Edison's Sprain Brook Substation in Yonkers on Tuesday, Abraham said, "Investment in new transmission capacity has failed to keep pace with growth in electricity demand and with changes in the industry's structure. If we remove the transmission constraints across the country, like those present in New York, the result will be lower prices and improved reliability."
The Bush administration's national energy policy, released last month, proposes a solution by encouraging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop incentive rates to promote transmission expansion. The policy would also provide for federal transmission siting, which could give the federal government the authority to seize private lands for power lines. On Thursday, Abraham named 11 new government industry collaborations aimed at developing ways to improve the safety and performance of the nation's natural gas delivery system.
Included in the array of innovations will be new types of miniature robots and other sophisticated detection devices that can pinpoint leaks or corrosion in both the large gas transmission lines that crisscross the country and the smaller distribution lines that deliver gas to homes and businesses. One project will develop an automated warning system to prevent damage to buried pipelines from nearby digging. Another will study how a natural pepper extract might prevent a pipeline from corroding.
"By 2020 Americans will be consuming 50 percent more natural gas than today," said Abraham. "When President Bush announced the national energy policy last week, he stressed the need to modernize the nation's natural gas delivery system by adding new technologies to help ensure the safety and integrity of moving gas from the wellhead to consumers. The projects we're announcing today will help meet this critical need." Pipelines carry natural gas from West Texas to power plants in Arizona, California and New Mexico (Photo courtesy El Paso Energy Co.) The Energy Department will provide just over $4.4 million over the next three years to the projects, with industrial partners contributing another $3.6 million, or an average of 45 percent of the projects' costs.
Also this week, Abraham announced funding for 13 new research projects under the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI). The funding, which could total $16.6 million over three years, will be used to pursue Generation IV nuclear energy systems, higher performance fuels, advanced power conversion systems, proliferation resistant nuclear reactor and fuel systems, and fundamental nuclear science research. The researchers are from eight universities, eight national laboratories, eight private sector organizations, and include collaborators from six overseas research organizations.
Abraham also announced 19 new grants awarded to 14 universities for nuclear engineering research under the department's Nuclear Engineering Education Research (NEER) initiative. This year's projects, which could receive $5 million over three years, include developing radioactive stents to prevent blockage of arteries (restenosis) following angioplasty, on-line monitoring and diagnostics for nuclear plant equipment and developing computational models to evaluate accelerator driven systems.
"These programs support the goal of making nuclear power a key element of our nation's energy policy," said Abraham. "They are an investment in our energy future and in educating and preparing the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists for tomorrow's energy, medical, and environmental challenges." Another aspect of the President's National Energy Plan would increase funding for renewable energy research and development (R&D). On Wednesday, Secretary Abraham directed the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to undertake a strategic review of its renewable energy R &D programs.
"The President's National Energy Plan highlights the important contributions that can be made by renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. These energy sources constitute about 10 percent of our total energy production, with even greater potential for the future," Abraham said. "A strategic review of DOE's renewable programs will help us promote innovation and technology to increase renewable energy's use in America and around the world."
"I have directed that the review - in keeping with the priorities identified in the National Energy Plan - to also consider the promise of hydrogen, superconductivity, and other next generation technologies," the Secretary added. "Hydrogen, for instance, when used to power fuel cells, emits no emissions other than pure water, which can then be recycled to make more hydrogen." The President's energy policy recommended a review of current funding and historic performance of DOE's renewable and alternative energy research and development programs. The review will be undertaken in conjunction with an energy efficiency R&D program review announced last week.
Already, the Energy Department has committed to funding 164 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The agency, joined by 48 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, has committed $40 million for these projects. The Energy Department is providing $17.5 million in funding through its State Energy Program special projects competitive grants. Though the project by project details are yet to be determined, the states and their partners will provide about $22.5 million in additional funds through cost sharing agreements.
State energy offices will use these funds to improve the energy efficiency of schools, homes and other buildings, promote energy- efficient industrial and transportation technologies, and support renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Some projects will encourage the implementation of building energy codes and will identify opportunities for distributed energy resources, which generate electricity at or near the point of use.
"Taken together, these projects will help to conserve energy, provide jobs, increase our national energy security and reduce the need for new electricity generating plants," said Abraham. "These projects emphasize the Administration's reliance on the important role states play in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies, and many of these projects help support the National Energy Policy."
More information on the Energy Department's fossil fuel proposals is available at: http://www.fossil.energy.gov. More information on the agency's nuclear research and development initiatives is available at: http://www.nuclear.gov. Information on energy efficiency programs can be found at: http://www.energy.gov/efficiency/index.html, and information on various renewable and alternative energy sources is available through: http://www.energy.gov/scitech/index.html
SIBERIA FLOODS BRING MORE UPHEAVAL CNN May 29, 2001 Internet: http://europe.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/05/29/siberia.flood/index.html
MOSCOW, Russia -- More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from southern Siberia after a fresh wave of flooding, according to officials. A spokesman for Russia's Emergencies Ministry told Reuters that rapidly melting snow and ice had seen the river Ob flood more than 500 homes in the city of Barnaul, near the Mongolian border, driving 2,497 people out. "The water level is 6.25 metres (20 ft 6 in) and the critical level is 5.2 metres. The water level has risen but we have the situation under control," he said.
The Ob is one of Russia's major rivers, flowing 3,600 kilometres (2,268 miles) from the Altai Mountains in western Siberia and in summer is an important trade route. After one of the coldest winters on record, the surge of water from thawed snow forcing rivers to break their banks has claimed several lives and forced 17,000 people across Siberia from their homes.
Earlier in the month, warplanes and helicopter gunships were called in to blast apart ice floes in northern Siberia, which had trapped the water blocking the region's rivers. President Vladimir Putin has visited towns flooded by the river Lena and pledged reconstruction work as soon as possible. The ministry spokesman said 6,625 people there were still living in accommodation centres or tent camps set up to house evacuees.
CHINESE WATER CRISIS BBC News 31 May, 2001 Internet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_1362000/13620 42.stm
At least 16m people in China are short of drinking water as parts of the country suffer their worst drought in a decade. State-run media say the level of rainfall in parts of south-west and north- east China is down by up to 90%. Some areas have had no rain for the past three months and the drought is expected to destroy huge areas of crops. China, already a very dry country, has suffered droughts every summer for the past decade, and the once mighty Yellow River dries up for large parts of the year
Population increases The current drought is the most widespread since 1990 and in some areas has lasted nearly 100 days, according to a report by the State Flood Control and Drought Prevention Headquarters. In the north-east, wheat crops are expected to be smaller than usual and water levels in reservoirs are up to 46% below normal, said the report.
Unlike the Yellow River, the Yangtze is prone to flood And in the south-east provinces of Sichuan and Yunna, about 227,000 hectares (560,000 acres) of summer crops are expected to produce nothing this year. A BBC correspondent in Beijing says the situation has been worsened by huge increases in population, agriculture and industry. Sand storms in north China have also worsened the drought conditions by sucking away the soil's moisture content. The Chinese government is proposing to pump billions of tonnes of water to the north from the southern Yangtze River to try to alleviate water shortages.
GLOBAL WARMING NO THREAT, FLA. INSURERS SAY Palm Beach Post May 31, 2001 Internet: http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/epaper/editions/thursday/business_3 .html
Rising sea levels, massive flooding, stronger and more frequent hurricanes -- if scientists' dire predictions about global warming come true, Florida's property insurers stand to lose billions. The state's low-lying, densely populated coastline already is susceptible to tropical storms and flooding. Global warming would only increase that risk. But the insurance industry has yet to be convinced that climate change poses a threat to its profits. "At State Farm we do not see global warning as an issue that drives anything," says State Farm Florida spokesman Tom Hagerty. "We have not changed any of our plans or policies on the basis of global warming information or on the various hurricane activity forecasts." State Farm isn't alone in shrugging its shoulders, says Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, a group of companies that insures the insurers. "The industry doesn't treat it as a serious issue," Nutter says. "It's not factored into rating decisions."
Regulators also are unsure how to deal with predictions of global warming. Steve Roddenberry, deputy director of the Florida Department of Insurance, says he believes climate change is a threat -- but he adds that it's unclear how the trend might affect insurers. Contrast insurers' dispassionate response to climate change with its vigorous lobbying for tougher building codes. State lawmakers last year passed stricter statewide standards aimed at making homes better able to withstand high winds.
In spite of opposition from home builders, the building code passed largely because insurers pushed for it. So far, however, insurers aren't teaming with Greenpeace or the Sierra Club to push politicians to limit pollution from cars or power plants. In part, that's because climate change is gradual and the predicted disasters have yet to materialize. Better building codes offer more tangible results than cutting emissions. Of course, not everyone accepts that global warming is a true threat. A United Nations team of scientists, made up of 3,000 experts, in February predicted that climate change will melt glaciers and polar icecaps, kill off countless species of animals and plants, turn farmland to desert, destroy fish-supporting coral reefs and submerge small island nations beneath the sea. But the oil industry and President Bush are among the skeptics. "The more scientists study climate change, the more the effects look very benign," says Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.
While U.S. insurers have yet to respond to global warming, European reinsurers Swiss Re and Munich Re have warned that the meteorological trend could lead to huge economic hits. Ebell says such claims are merely an excuse to raise rates. But Gary Lemcke, a climate expert at Zurich-based Swiss Re, says it's dangerous to ignore scientists' warnings. "We really see climate change as fact," Lemcke says. "Global warming is happening. I have the feeling that our U.S. counterparts are a bit reluctant to address it."
CHILDREN MOST AT RISK FROM CLIMATE CHANGE, REPORT SAYS Globe & Mail June 2, 2001 Internet: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/gam/National/20010602/UHEALN.html
OTTAWA -- Many parents don't know it, but their children stand to suffer most from the chaotic weather caused by climate change, a report released yesterday said. From last winter's blizzards in Newfoundland to the current drought in Alberta, the nation's weather is changing and parents have to adapt, according to the Canadian Institute of Child Health.
"Children will be among the most susceptible to more severe heat waves, more intense air pollution, and the spread of infectious disease," said the report Changing Habits, Changing Climate. The federal government, which financed the document, said its polling shows that a large majority of Canadians fail to see a correlation between climate change and their health. As a result, it gave $250,000 to the CICH to inform parents on ways to protect their children from bad air, polluted water and extreme highs and lows in temperature. Don Houston of the CICH said that cities and towns will have problems with air quality, while rural areas are more likely to face water trouble. Children are more vulnerable than adults to pollution, according to the CICH.
"Children get more pollutants into their lungs than their parents because, pound for pound, they breathe more," the institute said. The report suggested the following measures to parents: Make sure that children are always well hydrated, kept cool and that they play in well-ventilated rooms in the summer. Prepare a cache of emergency supplies for events such as the 1998 ice storm. Watch children for signs of respiratory distress.
MELTING GLACIERS SIGNAL GLOBAL WARMING Science Daily 5/31/2001 Internet: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010529235344.htm
For several years, evidence has been mounting that the global climate is steadily getting warmer. But whether the unusual weather patterns alarming environmentalists -- increasing temperatures, reduced snowfall, and rising sea levels -- are evidence of global warming or just passing blips in the earth's notoriously bumpy weather record continues to stir controversy. Before world leaders unanimously heed their cries of "wolf," scientists studying climate change must be able to tease apart regional climate changes and short-term weather fluctuations, such as El Niño, from permanent changes that are happening worldwide.
ASU geologist Rick Wessels is part of an international team of scientists studying the climate of the entire earth over several years with the Global Land Ice Measurement from Space (GLIMS) project. The team, led by United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Hugh Kieffer, is monitoring climate change by tracking the melting of glaciers across the earth. The global scale combined with a long study period will give the scientists the broad perspective needed to determine whether worldwide changes in climate are actually taking place. But in only seven months of monitoring, Wessels has already seen melting in glaciers all over Earth, which provides some solid evidence -- or liquid evidence -- for global warming.
At the Spring Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Boston, May 29 to June 2, Wessels and co-author Jeff Kargel, a USGS geologist, will present the first round of results from this project in a talk titled "GLIMS: Documenting the Demise of the Earth's Glaciers using ASTER." Wessels will present evidence that thousands of glaciers are melting, corroborating similar arguments made by many other researchers over the last few years. Like shrinking ice cubes in an increasingly steamy atmospheric brew, glaciers around the world appear to be getting thinner or even disappearing entirely, says Wessels. The flooding caused by runoff from these melting glaciers could have disastrous consequences for people living nearby.
Using images of the earth taken from space, Wessels, along with over 50 other GLIMS researchers from 23 countries, is tracking changes in nearly all of the 160,000 glaciers around the world, only about 1,000 of which have been previously studied. Wessels's newest data come from NASA-operated ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer), which takes detailed color and infrared images of the entire earth.
Data collection using ASTER is still in the early stages, but by comparing the newest data with older records, Wessels and his colleagues have already noted some major changes in the sizes of many glaciers around the world. "The majority of these glaciers are receding," says Wessels. Some growing and shrinking is normal for glaciers, and debris-rimmed lakes within some glaciers may come and go. Despite these fluctuations, glaciers usually maintain their size over the long term. But Wessels has seen a shift in the balance of this cycle. "At first glance, there's more shrinkage than growing," he says, "and there's now a trend for the lakes to stay and grow," rather than drying up or freezing over.
The newest images show that, in the Alps, where many years of records track the mountains' ice formations, several glaciers have disappeared in as little as 40 years. In Argentina, glaciers in the Patagonian ice fields have receded by an average of 1.5 kilometers over 13 years. And in the Himalayan mountains, glaciers are losing bulk as continued melting feeds lakes that sometimes run off to flood surrounding areas. Recently, a lake atop one Himalayan glacier threatened to overflow its natural dam within days, forcing local Nepalese engineers to quickly perform a controlled drain.
Because the melting and retreat is occurring at such a rapid pace, Wessels and his colleagues think global warming is the most likely explanation for the loss of glacial ice. "There is definitely a global climate change," Wessels asserts. Whether the climate warming is a natural cycle or caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, is still being debated.
See also- UniSci: http://unisci.com/stories/20012/0531011.htm
RISING SEA-LEVEL WILL SWALLOW SOME COASTLINES, BUT NOT ALL ENN May 29, 2001 Internet: http://www.enn.com/news/enn-stories/2001/05/05292001/searise_43663.asp
Does a rising tide lift all boats? Scientists studying the rising tides say, no: A large-scale rise in sea levels, triggered by global warming, is lifting some boats and swamping others. Worldwide, the oceans are currently rising one-tenth of an inch each year. The extra water comes from melting glaciers and ice sheets, and swelling of the oceans as they heat. In the next 50 years, scientists warn, the seas will rise a foot. In 60 years, coastal erosion in the United States could swallow one out of every four homes built within 500 feet of shoreline. "No one wants to live in Nebraska anymore," frets Richard Poore, a government oceanographer who studies the geological record for modern-day clues about sea-level rise. He and colleagues at the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, are currently investigating a 400,000 year-old rise in sea level that placed the surface of the ocean a full 65 feet above where it stands today. Migration from the heartland, therefore, worries Poore. He laments that the places where people do want to live - the coastlines - are increasingly vulnerable to small changes in sea level.
"The loss of life and property from major storms is rising exponentially," warns Poore. "And that has everything to do with the number of people living on the coast." With the attraction of coastal living comes danger. Thousands of residents were threatened by waves from the October 1991 storm along the shoreline of Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. So many people are living on the coast, in fact, that if the sea rose 30 feet today, one quarter of the U.S. population would be living underwater tomorrow, according to the USGS.
But as scientists point out, not all boats are lifted equally by rises in sea level. Some coastal areas of the United States are more vulnerable than others. The coast of California, which sits higher off the water than most Atlantic coastlines, for instance, could easily weather a sea-level rise of several inches. Coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, on the other hand, would be devastated.
Jim Titus, project director of sea-level rise at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, helps map the nation's most vulnerable coastlines. Coastlines that sit lower to the water such as West Palm Beach in Florida are most vulnerable to sea-level rise. "Four coastal areas pop out immediately," says Titus: "South Florida, coastal Louisiana, the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds in North Carolina, and Maryland's Eastern Shore." In fact, says Titus, many of those areas may already be feeling the subtle effects of sea-level rise. A rise in the ocean elevates groundwater tables and increases the risk of flooding during rainstorms. Likewise, the salty ocean water can spoil important freshwater aquifers.
Titus's map, however, tells only one side of the story: the geography of sea-level rise. Human reaction to the rising tide has complicated that picture significantly. Floridians, who have long suffered the ravages of hurricanes, for instance, have in many cases already moved their houses back from the water's edge. Other coastal dwellers, who see but one major storm in a century, have not - and may not even know how vulnerable their shorelines are.
Homes line the Louisiana shore at Holly Beach west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel along the Gulf of Mexico. "There are an awful lot of people living in areas that aren't currently flooding," explains Titus. "If you don't have floods or big tides now, you might actually be living only a foot above high water and not know it." In Louisiana, missing the signs of sea-level rise would be impossible. Steve Dunn, a deputy project manager at The Heinz Center in Washington, D.C., which recently completed a major study of U.S. coastal erosion, says that coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern United States are far more prone to coastal erosion than other parts of the country.
"Louisiana is already losing about 25 square miles of land to coastal erosion each year, " says Dunn - a loss of about one acre every 24 minutes. A river delta, Louisiana relies on flooding from the Mississippi River to replenish its dwindling landmass. But since man tamed the mighty river more than a century ago, the state has been sinking steadily at a rate of three feet per century.
Steadily shrinking, Louisiana relies on flooding from the Mississippi River to replenish its dwindling landmass. Titus says living in a state that's dipping below sea level may have some advantages over living in coastal areas that are, by all appearances, stable. "If you're living in an area where the land is sinking, the idea that the sea is rising doesn't strike you as improbable," says Titus. As many states have failed to heed the call of sea level rise elsewhere, troubled states such as Louisiana might have a head start combating coastal erosion and sea level rise. With a good land-use policy and plenty of preparation, says Titus, knowing the sea is rising - and by how much - could mean the difference between rising with the tide or sinking beneath it.
ON THE WEB
BERKELEY LAB INTRODUCES "ENERGY CRISIS" WEB SITE Energy efficiency researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory today released a new Web site, http://energycrisis.lbl.gov , that in real time shows the total demand for electricity in California, and the supply available to meet that demand. The site at Berkeley shows minute- to-minute changes in California's supply and demand balance. Using this site, consumers will be able to respond to the electricity crisis by reducing their power consumption when it's most important. In addition to serving as a real-time management tool for energy users, the site will help consumers better understand the sources of the state's energy shortages-for example, how much capacity is offline at a given time, how much power needs to be imported from outside the state to make up for the shortfall, and how supply and demand change throughout the day.
US SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING ON CARBON SEQUESTRATION The Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee held a hearing on May 23, 2001. Members heard testimony on how to measure carbon sequestration, along with its advantages and disadvantages. The witness list included representatives from American Electric Power, the US Department of Agriculture, Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, the Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense. See the statements at: http://www.senate.gov/%7Ecommerce/hearings/hearings.htm.
NEW REPORT FROM DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION According to a new report from the David Suzuki Foundation entitled "Fuelling the Climate Crisis," Canada's drive to expand energy supplies is damaging the climate. Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will rise a staggering 44 per cent above targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol if Ottawa increases oil and gas production to meet mounting U.S. demands. As part of a continental energy plan with the U.S., Canada is "rushing to expand oil and gas production to feed the voracious American appetite for fossil fuels. By doing so, we are dramatically boosting greenhouse gas emissions far above Canada's Kyoto Protocol targets." For more information see: http://www.energyrevolution.net/flash.htm
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
A TIGER BY THE TAIL New York Times June 1, 2001 Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/01/opinion/01FRIE.html
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
And now for a wild prediction. Within 12 months President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and all their backers in the oil industry will be begging - begging - to revive the Kyoto protocol on climate change, the accord Mr. Bush yanked America out of after taking office.
Why, you ask? Well, look what's happening in England. A group of celebrities there have joined with environmentalists to launch a boycott against Exxon Mobil gas stations, which in Europe go by the name Esso. Bianca Jagger, the pop star Annie Lennox and Anita Rodrick, founder of the Body Shop chain, helped launch the boycott because, as Ms. Jagger said, "This is a way to tell Esso that it's not right for them to be claiming that there is no connection between CO2 emissions and climate change."
People connected with Exxon reportedly contributed more than $1 million to the Bush campaign. Exxon is a key supporter of research and advertisements that try to cast doubt on the seriousness of global warming and its link to fossil fuel emissions. Exxon was a big backer of President Bush's decision to pull the U.S. out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which called for industrialized nations to steadily reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Exxon is also a major force behind the Global Climate Coalition, a business lobby that opposed Kyoto.
The "Stop Esso Campaign" is asking British drivers to shun Esso stations until the company supports Kyoto (see www.stopesso.com). The campaign recently spread to France. What's funny is that probably none of this would have happened had Mr. Bush not bowed to the oil companies and pulled the U.S. out of Kyoto. That may turn out to be his greatest gift to environmentalism. You see, as long as everyone was discussing how to implement Kyoto, no one wanted to take any radical steps. Governments could say they were working on the problem, but that negotiations were hard. Corporations could mumble nice words about environmentalism, but not worry anything serious was going to happen. And environmentalists could feel their cause was being advanced, even though implementation was far off.
"As long as Kyoto was there, everyone could avoid real accountability and pretend that something was happening," says Paul Gilding, the former head of Greenpeace and now chairman of Ecos, one of Australia's leading environmental consulting firms. "But now George Bush, by trashing Kyoto, has blown everyone's cover. If you care about the environment you can't pretend anymore. Emissions are increasing, the climate is changing and people can now see for themselves that the world is fiddling while Rome burns." The result: Environmentalists refuse to sit on their hands anymore. Instead, the smart ones are mobilizing consumers to fight multinational polluters on their own ground. You have to admire it. It's so Republican - using the free market.
If I were Exxon, I would be worried - especially when U.S. college students come back to campus in the fall. Remember Monsanto? It was going to sell genetically modified food to Europeans. But environmentalists in Europe - worried, rightly or wrongly, about the safety of what they were eating - mobilized the weakest link in the value chain: consumers. Consumers demanded "G.M.O.-free" food. So supermarkets demanded it from their suppliers, suppliers demanded it from farmers and farmers demanded it from Monsanto. Goodbye, Monsanto.
This is real globalization activism. "The smart activists are now saying, `O.K., You want to play markets - let's play,' " says Mr. Gilding. They don't waste time throwing stones or lobbying governments. That takes forever and can easily be counter- lobbied by corporations. No, no, no. They start with consumers at the pump, get them to pressure the gas stations, get the station owners to pressure the companies and the companies to pressure governments. After all, consumers do have choices where they buy their gas, and there are differences now. Shell and BP- Amoco (which is also the world's biggest solar company) both withdrew from the oil industry lobby that has been dismissing climate change.
What Mr. Bush did in trashing Kyoto was to leave serious environmental activists with nowhere else to turn but the market. The smart ones get it. You will be hearing from them soon - at a gas station near you.
BEHIND THE CLOUDS OF FRIGHT Washington Times May 29, 2001 Internet: http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20010529-132407.htm
By Frederick Seitz
"New research findings have identified declines in the extent of Arctic Sea ice and its thickness over the past several decades. The average thickness from the ice surface to the bottom of the ice pack has declined by about 40 percent. A related study . . . estimate the probability that the observed trends could be caused entirely by natural variability is less than 2 percent. This research suggests that human activities are very likely contributing to the loss of Arctic ice."
That is how the U.S. Global Change Research Program public relations department characterized one of the group´s top accomplishments last year. The report of the Arctic meltdown was greeted with doomsday headlines and as confirmation of humans being the source of global warming. In January, the World Resources Institute even trumpeted that finding as a reason President George W. Bush should resume climate talks and seek ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an action that would require a 30 percent cut in U.S. fossil fuel use at substantial cost to workers and the economy.
In recent weeks, though, there has been some good news about Arctic ice that the media has chosen to ignore. A Swedish researcher, performing a re-examination of the data garnered on Arctic ice by U.S. submarine measurements, reported in Geophysical Research Letters in March that there has been no thinning of ice in the Arctic Sea for the last dozen years. And last week, at an international meeting of Arctic scientists, Greg Holloway, a Canadian scientist who has studied the Arctic for decades, provided a reason for the discrepancy: Arctic ice oscillates with the winds in 50-year cycles. The submarines´ measurements didn´t take the movement into account.
The point of this is not to say the initial Arctic ice study was bad science or that the most recent reports are free of flaws. It is to caution the public and policy-makers against being rushed to action by scaremongers and the media who broadcast their message. For the science of climate change, despite what proponents of the theory of global warming claim, is hardly settled. It is filled with uncertainty.
That is not merely my conclusion. It was the message delivered in a National Academy of Science´s report, "Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade." The report issued in 1999 was requested by the government as a critique of the first decade of research into global climate change and as a guide for the next decade.
As a former president of the NAS, I appreciate the efforts of the scientists drawn together to explore issues of public import. So do the media, which often pick up NAS findings and report them to the public. What was noticeable about the Pathway´s report and subsequent follow-ups is the absence of attention by the press. And the question is why? Is it because this report upset as do the studies on Arctic ice the preconceived notions that the science of climate change is settled and mankind is its cause?
A key conclusion of the NAS scientists was that "a great deal more needs to be understood . . . about global environmental change before we concentrate on 'mitigation ´ science." It warned that: "Anthropogenic global change [that is, change in the climate caused by mankind] cannot be assessed without adequate understanding and documentation of natural climate variability on time-scales of years to centuries in other words, without adequate baseline understanding." It found that "the impressive, and abrupt, swings in climate recorded over the past several thousand years may, if anything, understate the potential for natural climate variability."
The report work noted uncertainties in measurement of sea level and temperature. It posed a dozen research questions about greenhouse gases that needed answering. It raised serious reservations about the modeling being used as confirmation of global warming. It called for better observations of conditions on the lands, oceans and in the atmosphere before drawing meaningful conclusions. Follow-up NAS reports have reiterated many of these same reservations. A report "The Science of Regional and Global Change: Putting Knowledge to Work," for example, noted: "We still do not have sufficient knowledge or analytical capability to fully assess the magnitude of . . . changes."
Such findings point to the need not for rapid action by policy- makers, as pushed by certain European diplomats and environmental organizations, but for more research on climate and its variability. And those researchers shouldn´t be pressured by politics or encouraged by publicity to find a particular answer. They should be given the space, the time, the funding and support to seek and find the truth.
The science of climate change today does not call for rash action that could wreak havoc with economies worldwide and even cause worse damage to the environment over time. Indeed, the science tells us such self-inflicted economic damage is unnecessary, unwarranted and foolish. It is time that story came out.
Frederick Seitz is president emeritus of Rockefeller University and past president of the National Academy of Sciences.
HARD QUESTIONS ON NUCLEAR POWER New York Times May 29, 2001 Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/29/opinion/29TUE1.html?searchpv=nytToday
After decades in the doghouse because of environmental, safety and cost concerns, nuclear power is enjoying a renaissance of expectations. The Bush administration's new energy plan gives a place of prominence to nuclear power as a clean and efficient energy source, and the industry itself is bubbling with new hopes and plans. In truth, there are good reasons to take a fresh look at this much- maligned source of energy that has been stalled in this country for the past three decades. But it is worrisome that the administration seems to have endorsed a nuclear resurgence with little sustained analysis of its pluses and minuses.
As an article by Katharine Seelye in The Times revealed last week, nuclear energy was barely in the consciousness of the drill- centric energy team at the White House until a delegation of nuclear industry executives sought a chance to make their pitch and succeeded so well that Vice President Dick Cheney almost immediately started touting the virtues of nuclear energy. A case can be made for greater exploitation of nuclear power in this country, but before the nation plunges too far down this path the administration will need to address some critical questions.
The rationale for a reassessment comes partly from the performance of the industry itself, and partly from changed circumstances in the environment in which it must operate. By most accounts, the industry has learned to operate its plants more safely and efficiently than in the years leading up to the traumatic near- tragedy at Three Mile Island. American nuclear plants are operating with much greater reliability and many fewer minor incidents. Moreover, the industry is consolidating, with plants being purchased and operated by companies that have more expertise than some of the previous operators. So there is reason to trust the industry a bit more than in past decades.
Meanwhile, external events are increasing the appeal of nuclear power. One is the rising concern over global warming, which is caused primarily by the emission of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Nuclear power plants emit no carbon dioxide, thus to the extent they can replace plants burning coal, oil or natural gas they can be considered a plus. Nuclear power can also contribute to the diversity of the nation's energy supplies. Nuclear plants already supply some 20 percent of the electricity generated in this country, compared with fossil fuel contributions of 52 percent for coal, 16 percent for natural gas and 3 percent for oil. But the great majority of all new power plants are being built to burn natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, making utilities and consumers vulnerable to price spikes when supplies become tight as they have this year.
President Bush's energy plan offers a wide range of steps to accelerate the use of nuclear power. But before Congress and the regulatory agencies proceed too far, some crucial questions require answers.
Impact on global warming: If this is the main reason for turning to nuclear power, the proponents will need to do a much better job of spelling out just how far nuclear power would have to spread to make a real dent in the problem. Nuclear power is used almost exclusively to generate electricity, thus it cannot reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil to power transportation systems. Nuclear fuel will primarily be substituting for natural gas - the least of the carbon dioxide emitters - as the clean fuel to which electric utilities turn. Moreover, fossil fuels are burned in mining and preparing nuclear fuels and in building reactors, so even nuclear energy is not entirely free of greenhouse gases. Some analyses suggest that to make a real impact in slowing global warming, nuclear power plants would need to spread widely around the world, a prospect that brings new challenges of its own.
Weapons risks: Expansion of nuclear power in this country poses no weapons danger, but the spread of nuclear plants into other countries could pose a risk. The uranium fuel for nuclear power plants is not generally considered of high enough grade to be used in weapons. But as more and more technicians around the world learn the skills of working with nuclear materials, and as governments become engaged in procuring nuclear technologies, there is a danger that civilian nuclear programs could serve as a cover for clandestine weapons activities. That is why, for example, the United States is angry that Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant. Even though Iran has pledged to abide by nonproliferation treaties and allow international inspections of the plant, there is grave concern that it will find a way to build weapons. Increasing the use of nuclear power in countries that already have either the bomb or nuclear power plants is not much of a danger. Spreading nuclear power to additional countries mi ght be.
Waste disposal: In the political world, the lack of a proven method to store spent fuel from nuclear reactors for the tens of thousands of years the material remains radioactive has long been considered the Achilles' heel of the nuclear industry. In truth, spent fuel has been stored safely for decades in pools at the sites of nuclear power plants with no adverse effect. The problem is, the storage pools are filling up and critics are loath to expand nuclear power with no clear idea where to store the waste. The Bush administration is considering a site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada that has been studied for years, and it has proposed a new look at reprocessing the fuel to remove the long-lived plutonium for reuse as reactor fuel. That could greatly ease the storage problem here but might encourage wider use of reprocessed materials abroad, increasing the risk of weapons-grade plutonium's falling into the wrong hands.
Reactor safety: The safety problem in conventional nuclear plants is that, if things start to go wrong, emergency cooling systems and human operators have to act correctly to prevent a catastrophic meltdown. That makes nuclear power a cruel and unforgiving technology that cannot tolerate equipment failures or human mistakes. But the industry is exploring new technologies that would not lead to meltdown even in a worst-case malfunction, making them inherently safer and cheaper to build and operate. This is where the administration and the industry should be focusing their efforts - to develop demonstrably safer power plants. That would ease many of the concerns provoked by the current generation of nuclear reactors.
Economics: No matter what else is done to make nuclear power more attractive, the industry will make little headway unless it can overcome the high capital costs that brought it to a halt in recent decades. Some relief should come from the advance approval of standardized designs, allowing plants to be built more quickly and cheaply than in past years when each plant had a customized design. But Congress will need to take a close look at whether it should renew one of the industry's economic underpinnings - the so-called Price-Anderson Act that limits the liability of nuclear companies in the event of an accident. If the industry is as safe as it says, it may not need such subsidized protection. On the other hand, eliminating the liability protection might scare off investors for good.
Nuclear power has been stalled for so long in the United States that it is surprising to see it back in the spotlight. There may be a case for extending the licenses of existing plants, as has already happened in several cases, or for building new plants on existing nuclear sites where the risks are already understood. But the case has not yet been made for truly large-scale expansion of nuclear power, in this country or around the globe.
SAYING GOODBYE TO THAT THIRSTY SUV Boston Globe 5/29/2001 Internet: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/149/oped/Saying_goodbye_to_that_thirst y_SUV+.shtml
By Bill McKibben
AMERICANS BELIEVE - as strongly as we believe anything - that no one should tell us how to spend our money. You've got to be a bit foolhardy to cross that line, but in recent months it's begun to happen. In San Francisco conservationists began pasting bumper stickers on SUVs with the slogan: ''I'm Contributing to Climate Change - Ask Me How.'' Last week, operating under cover of darkness, Boston bike activists ''ticketed'' Lincoln Navigators and Ford Explorers and their ilk with mock orange violation notices: ''Failure to Pay Attention to Your Own Behavior is Hazardous to Everyone.''
And on Saturday environmentalists, religious leaders, and others will gather near auto dealerships on the Lynnway to attempt to persuade shoppers to think about buying something besides one of the sheet-metal behemoths. Why this upsurge in protest? Mostly because the time has come to take the abstract issue of global warming and make it a real part of our lives. The science is no longer in doubt. In January the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed of thousands of the world's leading climatologists, issued their weather forecast for the century to come. Because of our burning of fossil fuels, the planet's temperature is likely to increase 5 degrees in the lifetime of a baby born today. The global average temperature, which has hovered around 60 degrees Fahrenheit for millennia, will suddenly shoot up to a range never seen in human history unless we take drastic action.
But our political system is not responding. Even though Americans contribute 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, the Clinton administration watched without much concern as emissions grew steadily throughout the 1990s. Now the Bush administration is offering an energy plan that ignores the laws of chemistry and physics in favor of the special interests that fund campaigns - an energy plan that everyone right up to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said will make it impossible to rein in the planet's emissions.
How do you make the leap from that large scale to the Lynnway, from the stratosphere to the SUV? Simple. Sport utility vehicles are a real practical problem: Because of their weight, they gulp gasoline. Switch from a normal car to a big SUV and drive it for one year, and the extra amount of carbon you pour into the atmosphere equals the amount you'd waste by opening the door of your refrigerator and leaving it ajar until 2007.
And they're a symbol, too - a symbol of how trendiness can lead us to buy stuff we manifestly don't need. Not long ago I stood in the parking lot of a supermarket in Lexington, surveying the array of four-wheel drive machinery with high clearance, step-up bumpers, and all the other rugged features. The only rational conclusion you could draw from the scene was this: Somewhere in that prosperous town there was a raging, unbridged river that you needed to ford to buy your groceries. Many people bought SUVs in the mistaken notion that they were safer. (In fact, because they roll over so often, you're no better off in them than in a normal car.) Others simply didn't think about the environmental issues.
But the time has come when purchasing a new big bruiser makes the statement that you just don't care - a statement the planet can't afford. And the time has come when there are plenty of alternatives. If you need a lot of space for a big family, then a minivan will at least get modestly better gas mileage. And if you want a really cool car, consider the new hybrid-fuel Toyotas and Hondas. They run like normal cars, look like normal cars, cost like normal cars, and get 50 to 70 miles per gallon.
How you spend your money really is your own business. But how you treat the planet is everybody's concern. If someone approaches you in the church parking lot or in front of your friendly auto dealer, don't think they're being rude. They're simply trying to be good neighbors, in the broadest sense of the term.
Bill McKibben is the author of ''The End of Nature'' and a fellow at Harvard's Center for the Study of Values in Public Life.
A CYNICAL ENERGY PLAN The Progressive June 2001 issue Internet: http://www.progressive.org/comm0601.html
Two years after the warmest decade on record, three years after the warmest year on record, while the ice cap on top of Mount Kilimanjaro melts and glaciers around the world recede, we have just what we need to accelerate global warming even further: a manufactured energy crisis and an Administration dedicated to putting its grimy hands on every drop of fossil fuel it can find.
During his first months in office, George W. Bush has managed to send U.S. energy policy--already seriously behind the times--into the Dark Ages. First, he reneged on his promise to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Then he opted out of the Kyoto Accord, the 1997 international treaty designed to cut production of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The United States is the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide, a central greenhouse gas, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. When he explained his decision, Bush said that scientific knowledge of global warming was "incomplete"--an old tobacco company dodge.
A February 2001 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that carbon dioxide makes up 64 percent of global warming gases. Most of the controllable carbon dioxide emissions come from the coal, oil, and gas industries. The panel warned that, if global warming was not brought to a stop, it could lead to more and more serious droughts, storms, and floods, cause the spread of disease, and result in more hunger, displaced populations, and strife. "When you put two oil men in the White House, I guess this is what you have to expect," said Bill Hare, head of climate policy for Greenpeace, who called Bush's global warming views "Neanderthal."
In a recent op-ed for the Progressive Media Project, Joshua Karliner, executive director of CorpWatch, says that G. W. Bush stands for Global Warming Bush. Bush's next move was the budget, which sharply curtails money for research into renewable energy and efficiency. It also ties solar energy research directly to the receipts from oil drilling in the Arctic. ("It's like funding drug rehab by funding heroin and crack," says Kert Davies, Global Warming Campaign Coordinator for Greenpeace.) Then the oil man who became President sent his fellow oil man, Vice President Dick Cheney, out to admonish the American people that there is a national energy crisis afoot, bound to get big and ugly, like the one in California.
But his solution was enough to make any environmentalist gasp. "Vice President Dick Cheney said today that oil, coal, and natural gas would remain the United States's primary energy resources for 'years down the road' and that the Bush Administration's energy strategy would aim mainly to increase supply of fossil fuels rather than limit demand," reported The New York Times on May 1. He dismissed conservation as 1970s-think: "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it's not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." And he claimed that the only way to solve the "crisis" was new oil drilling (including drilling in protected parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), increased coal mining (which he said is cheap, plentiful, and neglected), and more nuclear power, which is, he said, "as a matter of record, a safe, clean and very plentiful energy source."
"I think it's pretty clear why the Bush-Cheney team is doing this," says Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Project. "The only green they understand is the color of money, and this is payback time for their campaign contributors." According to The Wall Street Journal, Houston-based Enron, the nation's largest supplier of natural gas, contributed $1.3 million to the Bush campaign and Inaugural Fund and to the Republican National Committee. Overall, says the Center for Responsive Politics, gas and oil companies gave $13 to Bush for every dollar they contributed to Gore.
Bush and his oil and gas buddies have long wanted less regulation and more production. But the Administration's exploitation of the California energy crisis is particularly galling. "What's new and disgusting," says Hauter, "is that they are playing on the crisis in California, which is the result of deregulation." Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War: The Battle over Utility Deregulation (Seven Stories, 2000), agrees with Hauter that California is the crisis that wasn't. "It's totally manufactured," says Wasserman. "There's never been an energy shortage. California has never exceeded its capacity. What's happened is the power producers at the margin have cut off power at crucial times and made people pay through the nose."
Pacific Gas & Electric, which supplies much of the state with electricity, entered what The New York Times describes as "one of the largest bankruptcy filings in history." But, as the Times noted, "it has been a banner year for the rest of its parent company, the PG&E Corporation." The California Public Utilities Commission is looking into charges that PG&E and Edison International, whose California subsidiary is also near bankruptcy, made inappropriate transfers of cash to the parent companies.
On May 2, California's lieutenant governor, Cruz M. Bustamante, and Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews filed suit against five of the largest power generators in the state, alleging that the companies had engaged in illegal gouging that cost the state billions. If deregulation brought on the chicanery in California, the last thing the country needs is more of it. More nuclear power plants are no answer, either. "What they're proposing will not do anything near to solving our energy crisis," says Wasserman. "Nuclear power is a complete failure. You could say that nuclear energy has caused our energy crisis. It's inefficient, unreliable, unsafe." Wasserman cites the amount of money the United States has spent on nuclear power over the past fifty years. "If that trillion dollars had been invested in renewables and efficiencies as was proposed fifty years ago [by the Truman Administration], we wouldn't be having an energy crisis," he says.
Nuclear power is susceptible to all kinds of problems. Three Mile Island, the Pennsylvania nuclear reactor that suffered a meltdown in 1979, cost $900 million to build. "In one minute, it turned into a $2 billion liability," says Wasserman. During the California energy mess, four nuclear power plants were licensed to operate, Wasserman says. On February 3, one plant had a fire. The plant, which had the capacity to power 1.1 million houses, was suddenly shut down. "You have 25 percent of the nuclear capacity in California disappear in one instant," he says. "You have no other technology that's as vulnerable to instant self-destruction. Now they're talking about building more of them. Are they nuts?"
Not only are nuclear power plants unreliable, they are also extremely hazardous, as Russians near Chernobyl can testify. And no one has come up with a safe method of dealing with the tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste these plants produce. Two days after Cheney's speech in favor of more nuclear plants, Reuters News Service reported that two trucks had collided on a Canadian highway, spilling radioactive iridium. "This is a very important moment to see a big accident on the roads and to think about the implications of shipping all that waste across the United States," says Wasserman. "What more do we have to learn about nuclear power? It's the most expensive technological failure in American history."
One solution is public control of power. Regulation came around at the turn of the last century because the public was extremely angry about being gouged by the utility companies. When Cleveland took over the city's utilities, the mayor, Tom Johnson, said: "I believe in municipal ownership of these monopolies because if you do not own them, they will in time own you. They will destroy your politics, corrupt your institutions, and, finally, destroy your liberties." That is as true today as it was back then. Now the cities to emulate are Los Angeles and Sacramento, which, because they have public utilities, weathered the so-called crisis without charging their customers overly high rates. (See Rachel Brahinsky's "Public Power: A Way Out of California's Crisis," in the March issue.) "The real answer to the Bush plan is for the public to take over the utility districts and to circumvent the power companies," says Wasserman.
Another solution is to rely on clean, renewable sources of energy. Opinion surveys conducted by the Sustainable Energy Coalition have shown that 62 percent of Americans believe renewable energy should receive priority in federal funding and that fossil fuels and nuclear power should be subject to budget cuts. And in early May, a report from five government laboratories said that "a government-led efficiency program emphasizing new research and incentives to adopt new technologies could reduce the growth in electricity demand by between 20 percent and 47 percent," according to The New York Times.
Wind power, closely followed by solar, has developed from a 1970s question mark into a realistic, cheap, and quick way to supply power. "Germany and Denmark are cranking" on wind power, says Greenpeace's Davies. "After birthing both the wind and modern solar industries, we've totally lost the edge." Wind power now costs only 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Nuclear power simply cannot compete.
"In the five years it would take to build a nuclear power plant, we could build all the wind farms we would ever need," Wasserman says. "There's enough wind between the Mississippi and the Rockies to power the entire West, if not the entire United States." In fact, wind power is now cheaper than any other form of energy except for brown coal, Wasserman writes in a recent op-ed for the Progressive Media Project. And it doesn't pollute the air and water. Davies foresees a new rural economy based on renewable energies like wind and solar. "Some farmers in Iowa and Minnesota are making more money selling wind than they do selling crops," he observes.
"There is a huge economic growth bonanza waiting in alternative energy," as Jack Doyle, author of Taken for a Ride: Detroit's Big Three and the Politics of Pollution (Four Walls, Eight Windows, 2000), points out in another recent op-ed for the Progressive Media Project. "Global 500 firm Asea Brown Boveri advertises 'fields of windmills . . . at competitive prices.' Photovoltaic solar panels, too, are becoming more competitive every day. British Petroleum is selling these. And some newer technologies, like the fuel cell, could be truly revolutionary, not only for cars and trucks, but also for stationary users."
Energy efficiency is easier, and cheaper, to come by than it used to be. Many shops currently stock energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. The new hybrid automobiles, the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, which combine gas with electricity and get between sixty and seventy miles to the gallon, are now for sale. Although Toyota is manufacturing only a limited number of the vehicles, as The Washington Post reported on May 3, the Prius is popular enough that dealers now have five-month waiting lists. And these technologies make even more sense if you figure in the public health and environmental costs of sticking with the dirty old favorites. "Our vision is a future where clean energy provides not only energy security but freedom from global warming and freedom from big bills," says Davies.
But the Bush Administration doesn't want to hear about that. "Home appliance energy standards, including those issued since 1997, will save enough energy by 2010 to light every home in the country for two years, according to former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson," writes Doyle. "Bush, meanwhile, is about to roll back energy-efficiency standards for central air conditioners that would require them to run on 30 percent less electricity by 2006." The United States has not chosen to invest the kind of money in renewable energy and green technology that would make a more energy-secure and environmentally safe future for all of us. Instead, it has subsidized and promoted the most environmentally unsound energy sources. "The tax breaks and government assistance to the fossil fuel infrastructure is immense," says Davies. "The true cost of oil is buried. Consumers never pay the true cost."
According to the International Center for Technology Assessment, external costs such as tax breaks, extraction and production subsidies, protection services (including Defense Department spending), and environmental, health, and social costs total $558.7 billion to $1.69 trillion each year. "When added to the retail price of gasoline," says the center, the result is "a per gallon price of $5.60 to $15.14." That cost is now going up with the Bush-Cheney Administration, which is orchestrating an energy grab. It's a get-it-fast, get-it-while-it-lasts approach that only a government of, by, and for the energy companies could propose.
GLOBAL ENERGY CRUNCH-BRAZILIANS HIT THE DIMMER SWITCH Christian Science Monitor 31 May 2001 Internet: http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/05/31/p6s1.htm
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL-Monica Timm walks along the aisle of the Ipanema department store looking for candles. She's already bought flashlights and is preparing to live without a freezer, a computer, and a television. Like many of her fellow citizens facing energy cuts and potential blackouts, the Rio speech therapist fears what will happen if the lights go out: "I am worried particularly about crime."
Droughts, regulations that inhibit investment, and a lack of planning by government have resulted in a crisis that threatens to darken Brazil over the next six months and possibly even years. Energy supplies are also being stretched in some other parts of South America, where many countries rely heavily on hydroelectric power. Officials are beginning to see regional cooperation with energy-rich neighbors as one path toward a solution.
In Brazil, a country where 92 percent of the country's energy is generated by hydroelectric dams, low rainfall has left reservoirs dry. As of tomorrow, all but the poorest consumers have been ordered to cut monthly consumption by 20 percent or risk having their electricity cut off. Industry has been told to economize by up to 25 percent.
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso blames his predecessors for failing to invest in generating capacity, but critics counter that Cardoso's own reforms of the energy sectors have been shortsighted and incomplete. While energy consumption has risen 50 percent over the past decade, generating capacity has grown by only 35 percent over the same period, according to experts.Although 70 percent of electricity distribution is in the hands of the private sector, 80 percent of Brazil's generating capacity is still controlled by the state. Critics say the government has not invested enough in generating capacity or in transmission lines.
There are investment opportunities in Brazil, but companies are reluctant to spend money because they say authorities interfere in the process and prevent them from managing their assets. One U.S. company, AES Corp., which wanted to build fossil-fuel power plants, suspended plans to invest $2.5 billion in Brazil in May, blaming the country's regulatory body for its lack of clear rules surrounding investment and regulations that prevent generating companies from raising energy prices.
It is a similar story in Chile, perhaps the most advanced nation in South America, as well as in struggling Ecuador. Generating companies in both nations complain about the lack of financial incentives for investors. In Chile and Ecuador, just as in Brazil, the companies are not free to raise prices, and fear they may suffer heavy losses if their operating costs increase unexpectedly. If more investment in thermal energy plants does not occur soon, Chile faces electricity shortages in 2002 and 2003 to rival those that hit the country in 1998 and 1999. Potential problems are exacerbated by an overreliance on hydroelectric generators. About two-thirds of Chile's and Ecuador's energy comes from dam projects, and if rainfall is low this year and next year, rationing is predicted.
"If Ecuador does not take action to construct plants soon, the country faces problems at the end of 2002," says Carlos Navas, a senior advisor to the Quito-based Latin American Energy Organization. "Governments right now are relying too much on rain." Some countries see integration as the way forward. Chile plans to plug parts of the country into the grid of neighboring Argentina, and Brazil will link northern parts of the Amazon region to the Venezuelan grid in July. "Without doubt the region is moving towards a greater energy integration," Bruno Philippi, the former head of the Chilean generating company Gener, said last year. Those moves will take time to implement, however. In the short term, authorities are scrambling.
All over Brazil fluorescent bulbs are being installed in public places, and at some small businesses, solar panels are being put in. The federal government has adjusted work hours, once 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and disconnected all air-conditioning units. Evening soccer matches in Brazil's regional soccer championships have been rescheduled to the afternoon. Outdoor concerts, exhibitions and children's entertainment parks shut down after dark. Authorities in Rio and Sao Paulo have disconnected one- third of the lamps on the cities' main highways and bridges, and ordered public buildings and statues to go unlit at night.
Rio officials say light will continue to shine on the city's symbol, Christ the Redeemer at least for the moment. Authorities had originally planned to turn the lights out on the statue and Copacabana beach at 1 am but did an about-face two weeks ago after police raised concerns of increased violence in the area. All police leave has been cancelled, and officers are on 24-hour standby. With some traffic lights out and the tunnels that cut through Rio's hillsides even darker than usual, officers are being drafted to direct traffic and deter criminals with their increased presence.
The general outlook, however, remains gloomy. Six months of reduced consumption could further damage an economy already being hit by US slowdown and hard times in neighboring Argentina. Economists say they expect the economy to grow by at least 1 percent less than the original estimate of 4.5 percent for the year. A study by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a combination think tank and university in Rio, estimates the crisis could cost Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, up to 850,000 jobs. Politically, the picture is no brighter for Cardoso.
The energy crunch has badly damaged the credibility of an administration that has already lost support because of a series of political scandals. And with a prolonged dry spell likely to mean the crisis will continue into 2002 - the year of a presidential election - there could be dark days ahead for Brazil's leader. Not to mention Monica Timm. But her clouds have a silver lining. "I live on the 11th floor," Timm jokes, when asked what she plans to do if the elevator stops running. "At least I'll lose weight."
GENERATING FOG Washington Post June 1, 2001; Page A31 Internet: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5242-2001May31.html
In recent years, U.S. energy policy, or the lack of it, has encouraged consumption and discouraged production of oil, gas, gasoline and electricity. Given our economic growth in the past decade, this approach was clearly unsustainable. The energy debate now seems to center on whether various policy options will help corporate energy producers or the consumer. Almost nowhere is there an informed discussion of energy markets, which are the only way to solve the problem by efficiently allocating resources between consumers and producers in a stable regulatory environment.
Conservation -- reducing the absolute level of consumption -- is a mantra of critics of the Bush administration's energy plan. But this is too simplistic. The focus should be on energy efficiency. The U.S. economy is not only the largest consumer of energy; it also consumes the most energy per unit of gross domestic product (GDP). If the U.S. economy is to remain a model of productivity -- a key measure for continued economic growth -- then consumption patterns must become more efficient. An emphasis on increased energy efficiency would include encouraging investments in technology and removing roadblocks to the working of markets.
Higher prices can reduce demand and force conservation, but demand will take time to respond to market signals. Part of this demand comes from SUVs and overcooled homes -- types of consumption that are highly inefficient. But some also comes from the explosion in information technology applications, which can be both energy intensive and highly efficient economically. A new energy policy should thus avoid a meat-ax approach that might sacrifice economic strength in pursuit of an imprecise goal of conservation for its own sake.
Part of the strength of the U.S. economy was that it was the largest single market, including for energy, in the world. It is now Balkanized for both electricity and petroleum products: States bicker, decisions don't get made and investment can't happen. The current situation is largely made by political inattention and incompetence in both Washington and state capitals -- creating shortages and market distortions. To its credit, the Bush plan attempts to deal with some of these self-inflicted wounds. The states as well as the U.S. government must work on it.
From the standpoint of oil markets, both sides are missing the point on the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president has argued that the 3.5 billion barrels of potential reserves and 600,000 barrels per day of production would give us energy independence from Saddam Hussein, because we import that amount from Iraq. On the other side, critics claim this is a trivial amount of oil, just six months' worth of imports.
Oil markets are global and interdependent. Changes in supply or demand anywhere in the world can immediately change prices everywhere, as Baghdad is showing this week. If the United States doesn't import Iraqi crude, some other country will. Current high oil prices are a result of OPEC's large share of the global market. Prices will go down when oil produced outside OPEC -- from the North Sea, West Africa, Russia, Brazil and even the United States -- floods the market. Thousands of oil fields are needed to produce the 44 million barrels per day of non-OPEC oil. If the Arctic wildlife refuge did produce 600,000 barrels per day, it would be considered an "elephant," a super-giant field affecting global, not just U.S., markets and prices.
Critics have chided the administration for not following the lead of such environmentally responsible nations as France, Holland, the United Kingdom and Norway on some issues, notably global warming. They fail to point out that each of these countries has actively promoted oil exploration virtually everywhere in its domain. France produces high-sulphur petroleum in the Paris Basin; Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom produce oil and gas in fishing grounds. Nowhere outside the United States would fields of world-class potential be withheld from exploration. In recent years, oil products, natural gas and electricity have been commoditized, meaning that they can be traded in transparent markets both for delivery and to manage price risks. Many large energy buyers, from electric utilities to steel mills to hospitals, use the futures markets and long-term contracts to smooth out prices and ensure reliable supplies. One reason for the California energy fiasco is that utilities were barred by the state's
1996 deregulation law from using hedging and long-term contracts to stabilize supply and prices, leaving them vulnerable to price spikes.
The federal government would do well to make these energy-market tools for managing price risk available to small energy buyers, whose requirements and financial capabilities are too limited to use existing risk-management tools. The government could create an organization to bundle the requirements of small businesses and homemakers to reduce risk and lower costs. This approach is already used by the government for student loans, agriculture and home ownership. Why not energy? As the administration has pointed out, there are few initiatives that can bring near-term relief to consumers and mitigate the negative effect of high and volatile energy prices on the economy. But this is one option that isn't getting much attention.
The United States needs a coherent energy policy, and the current debate is doing little to achieve it. Market solutions, with costs and benefits on both sides, should be weighed and choices made. If the choices were easy, they would have been made already. The rhetoric of politicians and commentators must be replaced with informed analysis, followed by the political will to act in the national interest -- for the first time in a long time.
The writer, a former assistant secretary of the interior, is chairman of the Petroleum Finance Co., strategic advisers on global energy.
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