Notes from Underground: Stupid-Cali-Frack-Logistics: Gas Leak is Atrocious

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

NFTU, SOCALGASBy now, you may have heard about the massive natural gas leak in Southern California, which has been ongoing since late October; then again, given the dearth of major media coverage, you very well may not have.

It is an environmental catastrophe that The Guardian has called “the climate equivalent of the BP disaster.” [http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/04/california-natural-gas-leak-methane-climate-change-old-infrastructure] GAP knows this to most definitely be the case given our critical ongoing investigation in the Gulf region into the disaster which has garnered significant media attention and attracted over 25 whistleblowers exposing significant environmental and public health threats. Over 80,000 metric tons of natural gas – which is primarily composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas – have been released from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site, which is owned by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). This represents a substantial percentage of California’s total GHG emissions – as well as a threat to Porter Ranch, a community located near the site, due to other hazardous substances present in natural gas. But if this toxic cloud has a silver lining, it is that California might finally bring its legal stance on fracking and natural gas up to par with its other environmental policies.
Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Watch, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Obama Climate Plan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trial for Climate Activists Protesting “Bomb Trains” Carrying Oil Makes Legal History

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

56952b1ec36188ab7f8b459cA recently concluded criminal trial in Washington State drew national attention when five defendants became the first group of climate activists ever to be granted the right of using the “necessity” defense in a US court to justify their actions. Five ordinary citizens, drawn together by a common concern for public health and safety, had broken into a railyard and successfully blocked a mile-long freight train carrying crude oil for the better part of a day before being arrested. Climate activists in similar legal predicaments have been consistently denied this line of defense. In a packed courtroom near Seattle the so-called “Delta 5” testified and brought in expert witnesses to argue that their deliberate act of civil disobedience was needed to prod policymakers to more aggressively face climate change, and to impose restrictions on the burgeoning but dangerous practice of transporting crude oil by rail through the Pacific Northwest. Washington State is a hub of oil-by-rail activity coming through the region; oil trains have increased in number from 9,500 in 2008 to over 400,000 in 2014, with even further significant projected increases slated for 2020 and 2025.

After several days of testimony the judge determined the strict terms for a necessity defense had not been met and instructed the jury to disregard all they had heard. Nonetheless, the six jurors had been swayed and they acquitted all five of the more serious charge of “blocking a train” and declared them guilty only of the lesser charge of “trespassing.” The five activists were spared any jail time at sentencing. Following the trial, observers reported good will and hugs between jurors and defendants, expressions of thanks offered by the judge and jury for the education, and invitations to join the activists at future events. Does the Delta 5 trial signal a shift in attitudes towards climate activism?
Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Uncategorized, Whistleblowers | Leave a comment

Notes From Underground: The Success of Paris…Pending

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

NfU COP21, cThe year 2015 ended on an up note, but the real work lies ahead. An election year begins in the US, and the success or failure of the Paris agreement could come down to who, come 2017, controls the White House and the Senate, and whether the agreement is ratified.

The agreement reached in Paris in December is already being hailed as a success, and rightly so; perhaps most of all from the perspective of environmentalists in the US – where consensus even on scientific fact is apparently unachievable. Nearly 200 nations reaching an agreement on climate change is a tremendous victory for hope and reason.

However, anyone looking for many substantial elements to the agreement will be disappointed. A survey of the document forged in Paris will show no mention of fracking or pipelines, no discussion of nuclear power or wind turbines, and no firm timeline by which renewables must overtake fossil fuels as the chief source of global energy. The agreement simply points its signatories in the right direction, with the hope of stronger, bolder signposts along the way.

Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, International Climate Policy, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction | Leave a comment

Notes From Underground: Pipeline to Paris

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Notes from the underground parisThe 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place in Paris until December 11th.

The Paris Conference will hopefully yield real solutions to climate change — that is, provide measures to achieve sufficient mitigation of CO2-equivalent emissions to make adaptation to the unavoidable impacts of climate change possible. But even as the plans and deals are being hammered out, two things are clear: first, that the lead up to the conference has already forced important action on the part of various stakeholders, and second, that any resulting plan could still be dismantled before it can be carried out.
Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, International Climate Policy, Obama Administration, Obama Climate Plan, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction | Leave a comment

The Importance of Paris: What’s the Climate Now?

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

shutterstock_110244986_news_featuredIn the past year alone, there has been a marked sea-change in the wider American public and international discourse on climate change. For far too long, it seems, the world has had to endure the prolonged grieving process of the fossil fuel industry.

The debate over climate change has been dominated by a fossil fuel industry in a deep state of denial (Stage 1) and anger (Stage 2) and which, so far, has refused to accept that the age of fossil fuel dependence is dead.
Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, International Climate Policy, National Security, Obama Administration, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, Whistleblowers | Leave a comment

Notes From Underground: Fracking – The Bridge to Nowhere, Part II

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

NFUG, CSPW Fracking 2Its defenders like to claim that fracked natural gas is providing a bridge between the traditional fossil fuels of oil and coal, and clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. I suggest that such a bridge is unnecessary, and that the investment in fracking and its associated infrastructure represents a step backward in the pursuit of widely available, sustainable energy, creating illusory benefits with real, negative side effects.
Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Energy, General, Obama Climate Plan | Leave a comment

The United States is Dangerously Unprepared for Risks Imposed by Climate Change Impacts — Is Exxon Mobil Corporation Much to Blame?

facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Exxon Knew PIC2

Excerpt of internal Exxon memo from August 1988 titled “The Greenhouse Effect.” Available at: http://graphics.latimes.com/exxon-research/

As we immediately posted on CSPW’s social media sites late yesterday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon — signaling the beginning of what The New York Times reports to be “a sweeping investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.” This has been long in coming and joins the chorus of what has been a nascent, but rapidly growing movement calling for at least two separate, but related, federal investigations into oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Climate Science & Policy Watch is launching a set of articles that will complement and strengthen this movement. CSPW will do so by providing the narrative, disclosing details of material damage inflicted on taxpayer-funded US climate science and communications programs, and concrete examples of instances in which Exxon engaged in obstructing the Executive branch from fulfilling obligations under the law to assess the likelihood of potential climate change impacts and to communicate those impacts to Congress and the American people.
Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program | Leave a comment

Should Exxon Be Prosecuted for Suppressing Climate Science?

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Buttons-ExxonMobil-2The latest newsflash is that Exxon scientists researched man-made global warming as early as the 1970s, found it to be a likely threat, and told management. But Exxon’s management responded by keeping the science under wraps and spending tens of millions on a science-denial PR campaign that spanned decades. All the while, Exxon was using its scientists’ predictions of global warming to guide its own business decisions in places like the Arctic, and denying that it was funding climate-change denial.

Now a long battle over scientific truth — and the corporate right to lie — may eventually be moving from the politicized halls of the Capitol to criminal court. Some experienced prosecutors, members of Congress, and presidential candidates are calling for probes into whether Exxon should be prosecuted.
Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science Communication, Scientific Integrity, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hell and High Water: the Perils of Climate Denial Politics — South Carolina as a Case Example

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Jaoquin pics4South Carolina was the hardest hit of all the Atlantic coastal states affected by the massive storm system that was exacerbated by Hurricane Joaquin. Massive flooding took the lives of 19 South Carolinians and 6 others, demolished homes and buildings, turned roads into rivers, left over 30,000 without power, felled trees, and inflicted at least $1 billion in property damage. For Dixieland, the so-called October 2015 North American Storm Complex — there is not even a memorable name for it — is another Hugo (1989) or a milder (but still devastating) version of Hurricane Katrina (2005) or Sandy (2012).

Fewer than one out of ten homeowners in the state have flood insurance: the road ahead will be difficult if not impossible for many. Elected officials representing South Carolina have a poor track record of readying the state for a litany of climate change impacts predicted for the Southeastern US. Even Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC], who has charmed environmental groups of late with sweet talk about the need for sensible policies to deal with climate change, and set himself apart from fellow Republicans who play the climate denial game, backtracked on passage of national climate change legislation at a critical moment in 2010, and again in 2012, when he voted to deny federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. South Carolina is poorly prepared for a climate disrupted future, its leaders at every level of government have thus far shirked their responsibility to help protect their constituents from climate risks, and now, the state is feeling the sting of an extreme weather event. Will lessons be learned, and new, improved leadership emerge from the floodwaters?
Continue reading

Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rick Piltz’s Legacy: One Year Later

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

RP 1It has been a year since Rick Piltz passed away. At GAP we miss him profoundly. We were not prepared for his sudden departure, of course. The antidote to our feeling of loss has been to work as hard and effectively as humanly possible on Rick’s legacy program: Climate Science and Policy Watch. As we continue to execute the challenging vision he set before us in the face of the critical need and evolving opportunities to have a solid impact, we are blessed to have join us as CSPW contributors a host of former science colleagues, associates whom Rick mentored, and other professionals whose lives Rick touched in deeply meaningful ways.
Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Global Warming Denial Machine, Uncategorized | Leave a comment