Friday, May 16, 2008
As the global temperature rises, Scandinavian mountains are growing trees that require warm temperatures, such as oak, elm, maple, and black alder. Science Daily reports that studies by Professor Leif Kullman have noted an elevation of timberline by 200 meters, allowing trees to establish in areas that have not been forested for 8,000 years. "The changes are so rapid that plants like fireweed (rose bay) and rowan have even taken root in the gravel up on melting glaciers. Even wood anemones are appearing higher up the mountain," says Leif Kullman,"the alpine world is evincing truly major changes despite the modest increase in temperature. Present prognoses of a temperature increase of three degrees by 2100 will entail considerably more sweeping changes. We can expect fewer bare mountain areas, even more lush vegetation, and a richer flora."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I went to purchase some bread for a student potluck last night. The store's bakery had posted apologies about the price of bread, citing the rise in wholesale wheat prices. I knew prices were going up -- to be expected when the falling value of the dollar encourages exports, I thought. But I was shocked to pay almost $ 4 for a loaf of bread. So I began to wonder -- why? Is the effect of biofuels showing up already in food prices? What's happening?
Here's what I found in my brief review on how much bread I paid for bread. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index during the last month is about 50% higher for all foods than a year ago -- led in large part by even greater increases in meat and grain prices, including rice, corn and wheat, "supported by a persistent, tight supply and demand situation'' Bloomberg report Unlike crude oil, wheat prices have not yet hit inflation-adjusted highs -- that honor is left for the period of Soviet Union's desperate wheat purchases during the 1970s. But they have increased 50% in the last 6 months.
The NY Times reported that the world’s wheat stockpiles have fallen to their lowest level in 30 years, and stocks in the United States have dropped to levels unseen since 1948. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that world wheat production will rise this year to nearly 664 million tons, from about 655 million tons — not enough to replenish stocks and push down prices. In December, the organization noted that high international grain prices were causing food shortages, hoarding and even riots in some places. The NYT reports:
The United States Department of Agriculture’s 10-year forecast, released Tuesday, sees the wheat shortage as temporary. Stockpiles were predicted to fall this year to 312 million bushels, from 456 million bushels, before rebounding to about 700 million bushels by the end of the decade.Higher prices “will encourage additional acreage and production,” the report said. Wheat plantings will rise to 65 million acres in the 2008-9 season, from 60.4 million this year, the Agriculture Department said, though it predicted the number would then fall because of competition from other crops. NYTimes story
So, we can expect a year or so of relief from these prices. And then? "Competition from other crops" -- does that mean biofuels? I'm still looking for an answer, so stay tuned.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Today's AMS Seminar addresses relative contributions of GHG emissions, solar radiation, and cosmic rays to global warming
American Meteorological Society's Environmental Science Seminar Series
Solar Radiation, Cosmic Rays and Greenhouse Gases: What's Driving Global Warming?
What are the relative contributions from the sun, cosmic rays, and greenhouse gases, to the observed warming in the late 20th century and what are their expected contributions during the 21st Century? How does this compare to natural climate variability of past centuries and millennia? What is the principle driver or drivers of global warming in the 20th and 21st centuries? How are cosmic rays different from solar irradiance? Are there direct measurements of solar irradiance changes over the last 30 years or so? If so, what do these measurements show? What are the signals of this solar variability in the Earth’s atmosphere, and how do climate models reproduce these? Are we likely to observe additional changes in solar irradiance in the future and what might such variability have as an effect on climate? How is the ozone layer affected by solar activity changes and how does it influence surface weather and climate?
Today's seminar with Dr. Judith Lean, Senior Scientist for Sun-Earth System Research, Space Science Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC and Dr. Caspar Ammann, Research Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO answered those questions. According to the Program Summary which is available below, climate reconstructions suggest there has been a small, but persistent, climate response to solar variability on both a global/hemispheric scale as well as in some regions. Solar forcing and volcanic activity appear to have driven the majority of global/hemispheric climate variations over the past Centuries. But from about the mid-20th Century onward, the sum of these natural factors is no longer consistent with the observed warming. Only anthropogenic forcings, such as greenhouse gas increases and emissions of aerosol particles, can explain the observed temperature record. This explanation is even stronger when the vertical structure of the trends is included in the explanation. The panelists suggest that future natural solar variations will be insufficient to counter global warming that we can anticipate from future increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.
The next AMS Seminar is scheduled for April 7, 2008. Tentative Topic: Adapting to Climate Change: What Happens to Our Energy and Transportation Infrastructure?
Monday, March 17, 2008
This article is written by Denise Olivera, Columbia School of Journalism, about the Drink Water for Life Challenge originated by 1st Congregational Church, U.C.C. of Salem, Oregon. The article was covered by the Great Reporter newsservice link The congregation pledges to give up some of its lattes, sodas, etc. during Lent and give the money to our Pure Water Fund. In celebration of Lent, spring, or World Water Day, please chose to follow this lead.
March 17, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Friday, March 7, 2008
There's a little something for everyone here -- but some of the most prominent environmental lawyers in the world are blogging here. NRDC Blog
March 7, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Well, no prize, but...You can become a Pulitzer Center Citizen Journalist!!!
- Pick an issue. Issues list "Should US environmental standards apply when multinational companies develop the petroleum resources of fragile ecosystems such as Peru's Amazon forest?" should be of particular interest. Extraterritorial application of US environmental standards
- Read the corresponding coverage at Pulitzer’s website. Your article should draw on information from the Pulitzer Center articles; but you may also include include original reporting of your own or firsthand experiences. The goal is to provide fresh insight in a compellingly written article.
- Share your perspective on the issue and write your best article at Helium by March 12th.
March 5, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Sunday, March 2, 2008
- Amend the definitions of "significantly" and "effects" as well as the provision on environmental consequences to assure NEPA implementing regulations require climate change effects be addressed in environmental assessments and environmental impact statements; and
- Issue guidance to assure that climate change effects be addressed at each stage of the NEPA from categorical exclusions to the ROD.
- Issue a handbook to guide agencies in this process
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Judge Redden signed an order continuing the 2007 FCRPS operations through 2008. US DOJ proposed the rollover in order to allow National Fisheries to focus on producing a solid final biological opinion. The order and other information on the federal caucus' work to protect and recovery listed Columbia Basin fish fish at www.salmonrecovery.gov.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
During the last year, Foreign Affairs published a series of pieces on the 2008 presidential election, allowing candidates to frame their foreign policy in their own words. Foreign Affairs Election 2008 I am reviewing those pieces for discussions of global environmental issues, including climate change. I find this a particularly useful approach because it allows candidates to move beyond sound bites and into the substance of what they believe.
I expect to look at all of the current candidates: Democratic and Republican. The first candidate I am reviewed was Barack Obama. Today's post is Hillary Clinton.
Here's the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton with respect to the environment (especially global warming) in her own words:
The tragedy of the last six years is that the Bush administration has squandered the respect, trust, and confidence of even our closest allies and friends. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the United States enjoyed a unique position. Our world leadership was widely accepted and respected, as we strengthened old alliances and built new ones, worked for peace across the globe, advanced nonproliferation, and modernized our military....At the same time, we embarked on an unprecedented course of unilateralism:..Our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and refusal to participate in any international effort to deal with the tremendous challenges of climate change further damaged our international standing....At a moment in history when the world's most pressing problems require unprecedented cooperation, this administration has unilaterally pursued policies that are widely disliked and distrusted....
We need more than vision, however, to achieve the world we want. We must face up to an unprecedented array of challenges in the twenty-first century, threats from states, nonstate actors, and nature itself...Finally, the next president will have to address the looming long-term threats of climate change and a new wave of global health epidemics....
But China's rise is also creating new challenges. The Chinese have finally begun to realize that their rapid economic growth is coming at a tremendous environmental price. The United States should undertake a joint program with China and Japan to develop new clean-energy sources, promote greater energy efficiency, and combat climate change. This program would be part of an overall energy policy that would require a dramatic reduction in U.S. dependence on foreign oil....
We must find additional ways for Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to cooperate on issues of mutual concern, including combating terrorism, cooperating on global climate control, protecting global energy supplies, and deepening global economic development...
As president, I will make the fight against global warming a priority. We cannot solve the climate crisis alone, and the rest of the world cannot solve it without us. The United States must reengage in international climate change negotiations and provide the leadership needed to reach a binding global climate agreement. But we must first restore our own credibility on the issue. Rapidly emerging countries, such as China, will not curb their own carbon emissions until the United States has demonstrated a serious commitment to reducing its own through a market-based cap-and-trade approach.
We must also help developing nations build efficient and environmentally sustainable domestic energy infrastructures. Two-thirds of the growth in energy demand over the next 25 years will come from countries with little existing infrastructure. Many opportunities exist here as well: Mali is electrifying rural communities with solar power, Malawi is developing a biomass energy strategy, and all of Africa can provide carbon credits to the West.
Finally, we must create formal links between the International Energy Agency and China and India and create an "E-8" international forum modeled on the G-8. This group would be comprised of the world's major carbon-emitting nations and hold an annual summit devoted to international ecological and resource issues.
February 23, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, February 18, 2008
Yesterday's post on ExxonMobil (2/17/08) highlighted that it had
funded the Frontiers of Freedom and its Center for Science and Public Policy (CSPP link ) during 2006, contrary to its claim that it was not
funding global warming denialists. You may wonder about the
context in which ExxonMobil made this claim.
Remember last year when the IPCC 4th Assessment report came out – the Guardian wrote a story about American Enterprise Institute soliciting result-oriented denialist analyses of the IPCC report and that report included information about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI. Guardian 2/2/07 Report. During conversations in late January and early February, 2007 with me and other bloggers, Maria Surma Manka from Green Options [Giant Part I Post; Giant Part II Post], Jesse Jenkins from Watthead [ExxonMobil Posts], Tom Yulsman from Prometheus [Post on earlier conversations -- I can't recall whether Tom participated in the February call, but I believe he did], Stuart Staniford from The Oil Drum [ExxonMobil AEI Post], Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s Vice President for Public Affairs had assured us that ExxonMobil was no longer funding controversial denialist groups like Competitive Enterprise Institute and it did not fund AEI with the intent that they engage in denialist analyses. The first conference call occurred in late January and the second on the same day that the Guardian story and the IPCC report came out.
Cohen spent considerable time before the IPCC report came out in January 2007 trying to convince us that ExxonMobil was changing its Neanderthal stripes, truly accepted that anthropogenic global warming was a serious problem, and was ready to take a responsible role in the future discussions of how to reduce GHG emissions. Admittedly Cohen did that in the truly diplomatic way of saying that ExxonMobil had not effectively communicated its position that anthropogenic global warming is real and that GHG emissions need to be reduced.
During the February call, Cohen knew that the Guardian’s report about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI and AEI’s alleged solicitation of result-oriented denialist analyses threatened to undercut public perception of ExxonMobil as a responsible actor. Indeed, those reports ended up on CNN. So, Cohen went out of his way to schedule this call about the Guardian’s allegations.
As Maria recounted that discussion:
“We had no knowledge that this was going on,” insisted Cohen. He explained that Exxon funds a lot of different groups, and “when we fund them, we want good analysis." Exxon does not condone what AEI did, but Cohen confirmed that it does continues to fund AEI, although other groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute are not funded by them anymore.
Cohen assured us that Exxon is “trying to be a constructive player in the policy discussion and not associate [themselves] with those that are marginalized and are not welcome in that discussion.” The IPCC report “is what it is,” and Exxon does not believe in engaging in scientific research that preordains an answer. Cohen:
…that's the issue with AEI: Are they preordaining an answer?…I can understand taking a market approach or a government interventionist approach, but this is not a question of trying to find who’s right or who’s wrong. Let’s let the process work.
But, I asked, how can you grant AEI nearly two million dollars (n.b. slsmith -over the entirety of AEI operations, not annually) and not know what they’re doing with the money? Turns out that Exxon conveniently funds the “general operations” of AEI, not specific programs that would allow them to track how the money is being used. Perhaps Exxon needs to think hard next time before it funds an organization so clearly disinterested in constructive solutions.
Cohen was consistently explicit in Exxon's
position that global warming is happening and mainly caused by human
activities. If that is true, then how will Exxon fight the huge misperception
that it’s still the planet's largest naysayer? Cohen conceded that the company
needed to do a better job of communicating its position on global warming,
rather than allowing a fact sheet or
news release on their website to do the work.
Cohen kept telling us that the 2006 contribution report was coming out, but declined to give us any specifics about ExxonMobil’s contributions to AEI or other groups, but he said Competitive Enterprise Institute was no longer funded. Cohen continued to defend AEI as a responsible, albeit very conservative, think tank doing legitimate policy research. And frankly, I supported him on that score during the calls because at least some of the work done by AEI is just that. And I was not nearly as skeptical as others about ExxonMobil's protestations of innocence. See my post on the AEI matter ELP Blog Post on AEI
Here’s why yesterday I called ExxonMobil’s behavior in early 2007 deliberately misleading. Initial Post on 2006 Funding Report
As the quoted material above indicates, Cohen in early February 2007 led us to believe that ExxonMobil was no longer in the denialist camp and did not condone AEI soliciting denialist analysis (if indeed that’s what they had done). He claimed that ExxonMobil no longer associated with marginalized denialist groups. He suggested that the 2006 report would indicate that ExxonMobily had disassociated itself from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which brought us the classic, sadly humorous “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life!” TV commercials. You tube link to CEI Energy commercial.
From this discussion, it seems clear that Cohen knew precisely which “public information and policy research” organizations that were funded by ExxonMobil during 2006. Yet, while he perhaps sat with the 2006 report in front of him and refused to release its contents, the 2006 contribution report later showed that in 2006 ExxonMobil provided $ 180,000 to Frontiers of Freedom and the CSPP, the policy center it created with ExxonMobil's funding several years ago. P.S. Cohen denied funding CSPP in an e-mail today, but unless my sight is failing: CSPP is reported as the Science and Policy Center under Frontiers of Freedom Download 2006 ExxonMobil's "public information and policy research" contributions If that’s not supporting denialists and associating with marginalized denialist groups, I don’t know what is!
Take a good look at the high quality analysis of global warming that CSPP provides:
(1) the amicus curiae brief filed in Mass. v. EPA by lawyers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute
(2) Dr. Ball's The Science Isn't Settled powerpoint presentation - Dr. Ball is the Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project which describes its first project on understanding climate change as "a proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes." NRSP describes Dr. Ball as the "lead participant in a number of recent made-for-TV climate change videos, The Great Global Warming Swindle."
(3) Joe Daleo's Congressional Seminar on global warming in March 2007 devoted to disputing the IPCC's report and arguing that anthropogenic global warming from greenhouse gas emissions are not a real problem.
(4) CSPP's May 2007 rebuttal of Al Gore's testimony, which suggests there is no scientific consensus that CO2 emissions are causing global warming
(5) a nonsensical piece on "Gore's Guru," positing that because Dr. Revelle, who died in 1991, had cautioned in 1988 and 1991 against drawing rash conclusions about global warming might still take that position. I call it nonsensical because Dr. Revelle suggested that we wait 10-20 years to see if the trends continued. We've waited and now we've answered that question: between 1998 and 2008 we witnessed incredibly dramatic global warming and the scientific community has spent the last 10-20 years studying whether indeed human-caused GHG emissions are responsible for much of that warming. We and ExxonMobil know its answer to that question.
Obviously, the blogosphere is not the only group worried about ExxonMobil's funding choices. Britain's national academy of scientists, The Royal Society, in September 2006 took ExxonMobil to task about its funding of denialist groups. Royal Society letter
Well, maybe ExxonMobil finally pulled the plug on FF and its “Science and Policy” center in 2007 (and so Cohen was just tap-dancing around the embarrassing, but not on-going, reality of funding denialists). Although, FF's CSPP might survive: it apparently does have funding from two major tobacco companies!
Maybe ExxonMobil has rethought its policy on funding organizations whose primary contribution to the climate change discussion is to distribute continued attacks on those who conclude that the current state of climate science supports an effective policy to reduce GHG emissions. I’d like to think so – but we won’t know until ExxonMobil releases its 2007 contributions report. I requested that Cohen release it to me; he declined.
However, even if it had
defunded FF and CSPP (and other denialist groups), I’m not sure I’d believe that ExxonMobil hadn’t found new denialist outlets to fund.
If the Guardian and other media or the blogosphere produce a big enough stir on this story, perhaps it will. But I am astonished that, just as it was selling itself as a responsible player on global warming, ExxonMobil would act so irresponsibly and so deceptively. And I am deeply embarrassed at my naievete in believing what Ken Cohen and ExxonMobil were selling about ExxonMobil’s born again conversion to a responsible position on anthropogenic global warming.
Watch out, though, ExxonMobil knows that the question is no
longer whether global warming is real, but what to do about it. You can bet it
is smart enough and devious enough to fund a lot of “public information and
policy research” that will muddle policy discussions about global warming
legislation and may assure that not much is done to regulate GHG emissions from oil and gas and that what is done doesn’t cut hardly at all
into ExxonMobil’s astounding profits: $41 billion for 2007 and almost $ 12 billion in the 4th quarter of 2007 alone. ExxonMobil profits post
I have a modest suggestion for ExxonMobil: do not fund organizations whose published information, analysis, and research on global warming or climate change has primarily sought to undercut the conclusions reached by the joint statement published in 2005 by 11 national academies of science, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, India, Brazil and China . That statement is linked here: Joint Science Academies' Statement: Global Response to Climate Change
Unless and until ExxonMobil stops funding the sort of stuff that Center for Science and Public Policy is peddling, I hope that the new President and Congress will not believe a single word that is said about global warming policy by ExxonMobil or any of denialist and anti-regulatory "public information and policy research" organizations it funds.
February 18, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
During the last year, Foreign Affairs published a series of pieces on the 2008 presidential election, allowing candidates to frame their foreign policy in their own words. Foreign Affairs Election 2008 I am reviewing those pieces for discussions of global environmental issues, including climate change. I find this a particularly useful approach because it allows candidates to move beyond sound bites and into the substance of what they believe.
I expect to look at all of the current candidates: Democratic and Republican. The first candidate I am reviewing is Barack Obama. I chose Obama first in part because I am torn between Clinton and Obama. Although I respect John McCain's leadership on climate change, I could not vote for a Republican after the 1994 - 2006 Republican congressional legacy and the debacle of Bush's presidency for virtually every freedom and human need. I also disagree with McCain's position on Iraq.
In his own words, Barack Obama primarily addresses climate change as a matter of global policy. He ties the US response to global warming to his overall foreign policy in this way:
Strengthened institutions and invigorated alliances and partnerships are especially crucial if we are to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world, including much of the eastern seaboard. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world.
As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, America has the responsibility to lead. While many of our industrial partners are working hard to reduce their emissions, we are increasing ours at a steady clip -- by more than ten percent per decade. As president, I intend to enact a cap-and-trade system that will dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. And I will work to finally free America of its dependence on foreign oil -- by using energy more efficiently in our cars, factories, and homes, relying more on renewable sources of electricity, and harnessing the potential of biofuels.
Getting our own house in order is only a first step. China will soon replace America as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. I will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries leapfrog the carbon-energy-intensive stage of development. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia. This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.
February 18, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
After the Bush administration legacy, it is refreshing to see both Democratic and some Republican candidates competing for the title of Mr. or Ms. Green. See the comparison in Grist.
February 6, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Ruth Norton Smith died peacefully in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday, October 14, 2007 after enjoying her full measure of life.
Ruth was born in Oklahoma on November 27, 1921 in a tent in Oklahoma. She was raised during the Depression years, moving frequently as her family farmed and followed the tunneling, mining, and other work available to her father. Ultimately, her family settled in southern California. There Ruth met the love of her life, Herbert Frank Smith, a carpenter and union organizer, whom she married on June 4, 1941.
In WW II, while her husband served in the Navy in the South Pacific, Ruth became a Rosie the Riveter, building bombers, and then joined the Women’s Army Corps, serving as a nurse. After the war, they settled in the Los Angeles area, where she became a real estate broker and the mom of two children, Greg in 1948 and Susan in 1953.
In 1955, her family moved to Colorado where she worked side by side with her husband to build two of the largest home-building companies in Colorado, Happy Homes and Fireside Homes, and a prominent real estate firm. When she left real estate and home-building in the late 1960s, Ruth became a political and market researcher for Research Services, Inc. and later became a researcher for the U.S. Census Bureau, from which she retired in 1989.
Ruth was a life-long Democratic political activist with a passion for peace, civil rights, and all aspects of social justice. She served in every capacity: running political campaigns, serving as a precinct committee woman, county, congressional district, and state delegate, pollwatcher, and election judge. She worked with Metro Denver Fair Housing center as a realtor, helping the first African-American families in Jefferson County to find housing. She volunteered with youth mentoring programs in Four Points and with Metro Denver Urban Coalition, Another Mother for Peace, Meals on Wheels, and countless other organizations.
Ruth was too busy with her family, volunteer work and career for many hobbies. She thrived on the stimulating conversations born by inviting friends and guests from all over the world and from every walk of life to dinner. She also found great pleasure in reading, traveling and attending theatre and opera performances.
Ruth was a warm, intelligent, extroverted vibrant woman who loved and was loved by virtually everyone she met. Her loss will be sorely missed by the many friends and family she has left behind, including her sister Lorene, her brother Fred, her son Greg, her daughter Susan, and her grandchildren Clint Smith, Brent Smith, Nathanial Smith-Tripp and Sarah Smith-Tripp. Her family and friends will gather at Mt. Vernon Country Club on Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 10:30 am for a celebration of her life. The family requests that no flowers be sent and suggests donations to Meals on Wheel or a charity of your choice.
October 18, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Read/Write Web has listed Environmental Law Prof Blog prominently in its list of the 35 best environmental blogs. [35 best environmental blogs] Thanks!
October 16, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The bad news keeps on coming. A recent study showed an association between higher temperatures and violent suicides -- the obvious concern is that global warming will increase the number of heat waves and thus the number of suicides:
Psychiatr News September 7, 2007
Volume 42, Number 17, page 17
© 2007 American Psychiatric Association
Clinical & Research News
Long-Term Temperature Trends May Affect Suicide Rates
Researchers suggest possible causes of an apparent relationship in England and Wales between increased temperatures and suicide rates.
There is little doubt that hot weather can adversely affect people's health. During periods of sizzling temperatures, there is a surge in the hospital admissions of patients with heat-related conditions and deaths due to various causes. Severely mentally ill patients are at an even greater danger of dying during brutal temperatures than the general population is, according to a report in the August 1998 Psychiatric Services, by Nigel Bark, M.D., of the Bronx Psychiatric Center in the Bronx, N.Y.
Now it looks as though heat may have an impact on suicides as well, a study published in the August British Journal of Psychiatry has found. It was headed by Lisa Page, M.D., a clinical lecturer and National Institutes of Health research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.
Page and her colleagues investigated whether there was any relationship from 1993 to 2003 between daily suicide counts in England and Wales and daily temperatures. They took various factors into account that might have skewed results, including year of death, month of death, day of the week, public holidays, and hours of daylight.
They found an association. Above 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit), there was strong evidence for a small but significant effect of increasing temperature on all suicides, but especially on violent ones. In fact, suicides increased by 42 percent during the July 29 to August 3, 1995, heat wave, compared with what was expected for that time of year. This 42 percent was well in excess of the 11 percent increase in all-cause mortality reported for the same period.
Concluded Page and her colleagues: "There is increased risk of suicide during hot weather.... This is the first time that death from suicide has been shown to be contributing to the known increase in all-cause mortality at higher temperatures."
The ways in which high temperatures might contribute to suicides remain to be determined, though. The neurotransmitter serotonin might be implicated, Page speculated during an interview, since "serotonin levels are known to vary cyclically around the year, with low levels in the summer months. Also, postmortem studies have shown that people who commit suicide are more likely to have low levels of central serotonin.... However, I know of no evidence to support the idea that serotonin levels respond quickly to increases in temperature, which is what would have to be the case for this to be a realistic explanation for our findings."
Nonetheless, Page and her colleagues believe that the putative impact of hot weather on suicidal behavior will become even greater as global warming continues.
"I am not sure that these results have huge implications for psychiatrists," Page admitted. "The effect of temperature on suicide is small when considering any one individual patient and when contrasted with traditional (individual level) risk factors such as male gender, previous self-harm, or major mental illness."
Nonetheless, she does believe that the results have public health implications and that countries' health-service plans for heat waves should perhaps address suicide prevention.
"Those with mental illness are highlighted as an at-risk group in England's heat-wave plan," she said, "although this is because of their increased susceptibility to heat stroke rather than for suicide prevention."
Interestingly, in charting the relationship between daily suicide counts and daily temperatures over the course of a decade, Page and her colleagues could not find any peak in suicides during the spring and summer months, as have a number of researchers in the past. One reason, she said, may be because "temperature has a short-term, that is, near-immediate, effect on suicide that may well not be reflected if monthly patterns are inspected."
Another possible explanation is that high temperatures do not play any role in the spring-summer suicide peak. A 2003 study found that the hours of bright sunlight a day, not temperature, explained the peak in suicides during Australia's spring and summer (Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003).
The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, and the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection for the EuroHEAT project.
An abstract of "Relationship Between Daily Suicide Counts and Temperature in England and Wales" is posted at <http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/191/2/106>.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Judge Orders Bush Administration to Issue Climate Change Reports
Thursday , August 23, 2007
A federal judge ordered President Bush's administration to issue two scientific reports on global warming, siding with environmentalists who sued the White House for failing to produce the documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong ruled Tuesday that the Bush administration had violated a 1990 law when it failed to meet deadlines for an updated U.S. climate change research plan and impact assessment.
Armstrong set a March 1 deadline for the White House to issue the research plan, which is meant to guide federal research on climate change. Federal law calls for an updated plan every three years, she said. The last one was issued in 2003.
The judge set a May 31 deadline to produce a national assessment containing the most recent scientific data on global warming and its projected effects on the country's environment, economy and public health. The government is required to complete a national assessment every four years, the judge ruled. The last one was issued by the Clinton administration in 2000.
The administration had claimed that it had discretion over how and when it produced the reports — an argument the judge rejected Tuesday.
"The defendants are wrong," Armstrong wrote in the 38-page ruling. "Congress has conferred no discretion upon the defendants as to when they will issue revised Research Plans and National Assessments."
The plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace — said the ruling was a rebuke to an administration that has systematically denied and suppressed information on global warming.
"It's a huge victory holding the administration accountable for its attempts to suppress science," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs that filed suit in Oakland federal court in November.
Bush administration officials were still reviewing the ruling Tuesday and could not comment on it directly, said Kristin Scuderi, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, which was named in the lawsuit.
But the administration is complying with the law, Scuderi said. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is working on 21 separate reports on global warming's projected effects on the U.S and has started to prepare a new research plan, she said
AND HERE"S THE WORD FROM THE SENATE MINORITY:
Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.
Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."
The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.
These changing viewpoints represent the advances in climate science over the past decade. While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.
Schulte's survey contradicts the United Nation IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (2007), which gave a figure of "90% likely" man was having an impact on world temperatures. But does the IPCC represent a consensus view of world scientists? Despite media claims of "thousands of scientists" involved in the report, the actual text is written by a much smaller number of "lead authors." The introductory "Summary for Policymakers" -- the only portion usually quoted in the media -- is written not by scientists at all, but by politicians, and approved, word-by-word, by political representatives from member nations. By IPCC policy, the individual report chapters -- the only text actually written by scientists -- are edited to "ensure compliance" with the summary, which is typically published months before the actual report itself.
By contrast, the ISI Web of Science database covers 8,700 journals and publications, including every leading scientific journal in the world.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The Ninth Circuit reversed denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the Mission Brush project in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, in which the Forest Service planned to allow selective logging to restore the forest to historic conditions. The court held that plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of both their NFMA and NEPA claims. The Forest Service decision relied on unverified assumptions that the logging would improve habitat for sensitive old-growth dependent species used to measure diversity and failed to discuss scientific uncertainty about its impact assessment. Land_institute.pdf
Friday, July 6, 2007
A Sudden Change of State
The Guardian (London)
July 3, 2007
A new paper suggests we have been greatly underestimating the impacts of climate change - and the size of the necessary response.
Reading a scientific paper on the train this weekend, I found, to my
amazement, that my hands were shaking. This has never happened to me before, but nor have I ever read anything like it. Published by a team led by James Hansen at Nasa, it suggests that the grim reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be absurdly optimistic(1).
The IPCC predicts that sea levels could rise by as much as 59cm this
century(2). Hansen's paper argues that the slow melting of ice sheets the panel expects doesn't fit the data. The geological record suggests that ice at the poles does not melt in a gradual and linear fashion, but flips suddenly from one state to another. When temperatures
increased to 2-3 degrees above today's level 3.5 million years ago, sea levels rose not by 59 centimetres but by 25 metres. The ice
responded immediately to changes in temperature(3).
We now have a pretty good idea of why ice sheets collapse. The
buttresses that prevent them from sliding into the sea break up;
meltwater trickles down to their base, causing them suddenly to slip; and pools of water form on the surface, making the ice darker so that it absorbs more heat. These processes are already taking place in
Greenland and West Antarctica.
Rather than taking thousands of years to melt, as the IPCC predicts,
Hansen and his team find it "implausible" that the expected warming before 2100 "would permit a West Antarctic ice sheet of present size to survive even for a century." As well as drowning most of the world's centres of population, a sudden disintegration could lead to much higher rises in global temperature, because less ice means less heat reflected back into space. The new paper suggests that the temperature could therefore be twice as sensitive to rising greenhouse gases than the IPCC assumes. "Civilization developed," Hansen writes, "during a period of unusual climate stability, the Holocene, now almost 12,000 years in duration. That period is about to end."(4)
I looked up from the paper, almost expecting to see crowds stampeding through the streets. I saw people chatting outside a riverside pub. The other passengers on the train snoozed over their newspapers or played on their mobile phones. Unaware of the causes of our good fortune, blissfully detached from their likely termination, we drift into catastrophe.
Or we are led there. A good source tells me that the British
government is well aware that its target for cutting carbon emissions - 60% by 2050 - is too little, too late, but that it will go no
further for one reason: it fears losing the support of the
Confederation of British Industry. Why this body is allowed to keep
holding a gun to our heads has never been explained, but Gordon Brown has just appointed Digby Jones, its former director-general, as a minister in the department responsible for energy policy. I don't remember voting for him. There could be no clearer signal that the public interest is being drowned by corporate power.
The government's energy programme, partly as a result, is
characterised by a complete absence of vision. You can see this most
clearly when you examine its plans for renewables. The EU has set a
target for 20% of all energy in the member states to come from
renewable sources by 2020. This in itself is pathetic. But the
government refuses to adopt it(5): instead it proposes that 20% of our
electricity (just part of our total energy use) should come from
renewable power by that date. Even this is not a target, just an
"aspiration", and it is on course to miss it. Worse still, it has no
idea what happens after that. Last week I asked whether it has
commissioned any research to discover how much more electricity we could generate from renewable sources. It has not(6).
It's a critical question, whose answer - if its results were applied
globally - could determine whether or not the planetary "albedo flip"
that Hansen predicts takes place. There has been remarkably little
investigation of this issue. Until recently I guessed that the maximum
contribution from renewables would be something like 50%: beyond that point the difficulties of storing electricity and balancing the grid
could become overwhelming. But three papers now suggest that we could go much further.
Last year, the German government published a study of the effects of linking the electricity networks of all the countries in Europe and
connecting them to North Africa and Iceland with high voltage direct
current cables(7). This would open up a much greater variety of
renewable power sources. Every country in the network would then be able to rely on stable and predictable supplies from elsewhere: hydroelectricity in Scandanavia and the Alps, geothermal energy in Iceland and vast solar thermal farms in the Sahara. By spreading the demand across a much wider network, it suggests that 80% of Europe's electricity could be produced from renewable power without any greater risk of blackouts or flickers.
At about the same time, Mark Barrett at University College London
published a preliminary study looking mainly at ways of altering the
pattern of demand for electricity to match the variable supply from
wind and waves and tidal power(8). At about twice the current price, he found that we might be able to produce as much as 95% of our
electricity from renewable sources without causing interruptions in the power supply.
Now a new study by the Centre for Alternative Technology takes this
even further(9). It is due to be published next week, but I have been
allowed a preview. It is remarkable in two respects: it suggests that by 2027 we could produce 100% of our electricity without the use of fossil fuels or nuclear power, and that we could do so while almost tripling its supply: our heating systems (using electricity to drive heat pumps) and our transport systems could be mostly powered by it. It relies on a great expansion of electricity storage: building new hydroelectric reservoirs into which water can be pumped when electricity is abundant, constructing giant vanadium flow batteries and linking electric cars up to the grid when they are parked, using their batteries to meet fluctuations in demand. It contains some optimistic technical assumptions, but also a very pessimistic one: that the UK relies entirely on its own energy supplies. If the German proposal were to be combined with these ideas, we could begin to see how we might reliably move towards a world without fossil fuels.
If Hansen is correct, to avert the meltdown that brings the Holocene to an end we require a response on this scale: a sort of political "albedo flip". The government must immediately commission studies to discover how much of our energy could be produced without fossil fuels, set that as its target then turn the economy round to meet it. But a power shift like this cannot take place without a power shift of another kind: we need a government which fears planetary meltdown more than it fears the CBI.
George Monbiot's book Heat: how to stop the planet burning is now
published in paperback. www.monbiot.com
1. James Hansen et al, 2007. Climate Change and Trace Gases.
Philiosophical Transactions of the Royal Society - A. Vol 365, pp
1925-1954. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2007.2052.
2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, February 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers. Table SPM-3. http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf
3. I am grateful to Marc Hudson for drawing my attention to this paper and giving me a copy.
4. James Hansen et al, ibid.
5. In the Energy White Paper it says the following: "The 20%
renewables target is an ambitious goal representing a large increase in Member States' renewables capacity. It will need to be taken forward in the context of the overall EU greenhouse gas target. Latest data shows that the current share of renewables in the UK's total energy mix is around 2% and for the EU as a whole around 6%. Projections indicate that by 2020, on the basis of existing policies, renewables would contribute around 5% of the UK's consumption and are unlikely to exceed 10% of the EU's." Department of Trade and Industry, May 2007. Meeting the Energy Challenge: A White Paper on Energy, page 23. http://www.dtistats.net/ewp/ewp_full.pdf
6. Emails from David Meechan, press officer, Renewables, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
7. German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Technical Thermodynamics Section Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment, June 2006. Trans-Mediterranean Interconnection for Concentrating Solar Power. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany.
8. Mark Barrett, April 2006. A Renewable Electricity System for the UK: A Response to the 2006 Energy Review. UCL Bartlett School Of Graduate Studies - Complex Built Environment Systems Group.
9. Centre for Alternative Technology, 10th July 2007.
ZeroCarbonBritain: an alternative energy strategy. This will be made
available at www.zerocarbonbritain.com.
Project ID: 01250
Date Posted: 7/02
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