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Climate Crisis Coalition Newsfeed (Feb 23, 2007)

Click the highlighted headlines for links to these stories.

'Change a Bulb, Change Everything'.
Agence France-Presse, February 22, 2007. "Yahoo, [with A coalition of private companies, organizations, and government agencies] and [Lawrence Bender] the producer of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth launched a website devoted to rallying US consumers to fight global warming by switching light bulbs. [Thursday's announcement was at the Tech Innovation Museum, in San Jose]... The website is devoted to mapping how quickly cities are converting from energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs to energy-saving, longer-lasting compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. The movement (www.18seconds.org) was named for the typical amount of time it takes a person to swap an incandescent light bulb for a CFL... 'This movement is about empowering the individual -- to say to every person in America that with one easy step, they can become part of a movement that will literally change the world,' said Bender." The motto for the site is "change a bulb, change everything."

Bush Energy Plan: Quadruple R&D Spending on Nuclear Reprocessing while Cutting Back on Conservation and Efficiency. By Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor, February 23, 2007. "If new technology is a key answer to global warming and America's addiction to oil, then President Bush's proposal to boost federal spending on energy R&D - by no less than 30 percent in fiscal 2008 - would seem a welcome step. In the new $2.7 billion budget plan, R&D dollars allotted to the US Department of Energy (DOE) continue a transition toward research that will help cut greenhouse gases. But overall federal spending on energy research in real dollars is only one-third what it was at its 1978 peak, according to a Harvard University analysis. Some also question the administration's emphasis on nuclear research, saying other promising technologies could be applied sooner to climate and energy-security issues... Because the federal government remains the largest investor in energy R&D, its spending priorities are of keen interest to scientists, environmentalists, energy entrepreneurs, utilities, and the general public - especially as concerns rise about both climate change and energy security. As might be expected, the new budget proposal has a host of critics. Among the concerns: •Next year's budget request would boost funding for biofuel, clean-coal, battery, and solar technologies. But it eliminates research for hydropower and geo-thermal, two renewable energy sources. •Spending on energy-efficiency programs, which in the past led to low-power refrigerators and energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, would drop. •There would be a fourfold increase from 2006 in spending for nuclear-fuel reprocessing, a practice that many experts say does little to replace oil and remains years from commercialization... Taken together, the budget request breaks little new ground in terms of fighting global warming or the nation's reliance on foreign oil, many experts say."

George Bush and the Ethanol Racer. CNET News, February 23, 2007. "A month after a State of the Union speech in which he called for more research into clean energy and renewable fuels, President Bush continues to stump for ethanol. On Thursday, he got a look at this ethanol-fueled racecar during a tour of biotech company Novozymes North America in Franklinton, N.C." See photo of Bush and the not-energy-efficient racing machine.

Radical Right Attacks McCain Over Global Warming. Think Progress, February 22, 2007. "Sen. John McCain said what has now become conventional wisdom: that the Bush administration's inaction on global warming has had damaging consequences for our environment. 'I would assess this administration's record on global warming as terrible. And I have held hearings when I was chairman of the Commerce Committee for years and got no cooperation from the administration on this issue whatsoever,' McCain said [on Wednesday in California]. For speaking such a casual truth, McCain has come under attack from the small contingent of global warming deniers on the right who refuse to accept the science. A few examples of the attacks: Ankle Biting Pundits: 'McCain Sides With The Loony Left On Global Warming. … No Senator McCain, the President's record on global warming is not terrible. Just because he doesn't want to go along with the Euro's and the lefties in voluntarily destroying our economy doesn't make him wrong'... Jon Fleischman: 'McCain Embraces Environmental Extremism in California Appearance'... National Review: 'He's in CA doing "non-political" global warming events?? Gee, and they wonder why conservatives don't trust him.'"

Poll Finds Strong Support in Europe and U.S. for Polluter Taxes. By Meg Bortin, The International Herald Tribune, February 23, 2007. "At a time when world concern about global warming is on the rise, residents polled in five European countries and the United States overwhelmingly said they believed that industrial companies should be taxed according to the amount of pollution they produce, a new survey has found. The poll, conducted for the International Herald Tribune and the French television station France 24 by Harris Interactive, an online polling organization, surveyed 6,576 people in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States. Asked whether they supported the 'polluter must pay' idea for industry — that the more a company pollutes, the more it should be taxed — 92 percent said yes in France, Italy and Spain. In Germany, 89 percent agreed, while 82 percent of Americans and 81 percent of Britons also said yes."

Minnesota Raises Bar on Renewable Energy Use. By Brian Bakst, The Associated Press, February 22, 2007. "Minnesota put its faith in a future fueled by renewable energy Thursday as the governor signed a law requiring utilities to generate a quarter of their power from renewable sources such as wind, water and sun by 2025. Considering where Minnesota stands now -- about half the power produced in the state is from coal, and only 5 percent from renewable sources -- the move is the most aggressive in the country, analysts say. 'We have to break our addiction to fossil fuels,' Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in signing the legislation. The new law, which sailed through the Legislature, encourages the use of wind farms, hydroelectric power and solar energy, as well as cleaner-burning fuels. Minnesota's numerical goal trails targets already in place for Maine and New York, but those states had been getting a significant amount of electricity from large-scale hydropower facilities before their standards were adopted, according to data from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists."

Vermont Senate and Governor at Odds on Energy Efficiency Initiative. By Ross Sneyd, The Associated Press Writer, February 21, 2007. "Leading senators said Wednesday they were close to fulfilling one of their pledges -- addressing global climate change -- with a bill that would impose a surcharge on home heating fuel to pay for improved energy efficiency. Gov. Jim Douglas almost immediately dismissed the development as nothing more than a tax increase, which he said would make Vermont less affordable. Fuel dealers and homebuilders shared the view. Democrats, however, said their plan would help to create jobs because it would create work for contractors who can renovate houses and buildings with better insulation, more efficient boilers and furnaces. The Democratic initiative won backing from a new group that's dubbed itself the Vermont Building Efficiency Coalition, which includes business, social and environmental groups. 'Half of Vermont emissions are leaking out of uninsulated buildings and old windows,' said Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, D-Windham. The bill, which still is pending in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, would call on the Public Service Board to determine how much energy could be saved with a more aggressive weatherization program. The board then would be authorized to implement a surcharge on home heating oil, propane and kerosene."

Warming Climate, Cod Collapse, Have Combined To Cause Rapid North Atlantic Ecosystem Changes. Press Release, Cornell University, February 23, 2007. "Ecosystems along the continental shelf waters of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, from the Labrador Sea south of Greenland all the way to North Carolina, are experiencing large, rapid changes, reports a Cornell oceanographer in the Feb. 23 issue of Science. While some scientists have pointed to the decline of cod from overfishing as the main reason for the shifting ecosystems, the article emphasizes that climate changes are also playing a big role. 'It is becoming increasingly clear that Northwest Atlantic shelf ecosystems are being tested by climate forcing from the bottom up and overfishing from the top down,' said Charles Greene, director of the Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program in Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. 'Predicting the fate of these ecosystems will be one of oceanography's grand challenges for the 21st century' ... Since the late 1980s, scientists have noticed that pulses of fresh water from increased precipitation and melting of ice on land and sea in the Arctic have flowed into the North Atlantic Ocean and made the water less salty. At the same time, climate-driven shifts in Arctic wind patterns have redirected ocean currents. The combination of these processes has led to a freshening of seawater along most of the Northwest Atlantic shelf, [which in turn alters food chain patterns.]" Full Text of Science article (subscription)

Methane Hydrates Tapped in Alaska for Study. Mongabay.com, February 22, 2007. "Researchers in Alaska have successfully drilled gas hydrates -- frozen methane deposits that could someday replace petroleum as a key energy source. The drilling, sponsored by the U.S. Energy Department, was conducted by BP near its Milne Point well. The oil giant found two separate layers of gas containing ice and sent samples to the lab for analysis. The drilling project cost $4.6 million. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, anywhere from 100,000 to 300 million trillion cubic feet of methane exists globally in hydrate deposits. Perhaps 200,000 trillion cubic feet of these lie within U.S. coastal waters -- enough potential energy to fuel the country for centuries. While this may seem like great news for domestic energy security, use of these icy methane deposits is currently fraught with problems, including inaccessibility, technical issues with handling the hydrates, and environmental concerns. Gas hydrates, which are only stable only under low temperature and relatively high pressure, are usually at the bottom of the ocean and in terrestrial permafrost. Bringing these solid methane ice deposits to the surface is difficult without them melting into methane gas. Another problem is the climate implications. In the atmosphere, methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The exploitation of methane hydrate deposits could further drive global warming through carbon dioxide emissions resulting from increased burning of the fossil fuel as well as direct releases of the gas into the atmosphere." Fire In The Ice: Gas Hydrate Project Could Unlock Vast Energy Resource In Alaska. Science Daily, February 22, 2007. "Drilling is complete on an Alaskan North Slope well... that could prove to be an important milestone in assessing America's largest potential fossil energy resource: gas hydrate."

As Asia Keeps Cool, Scientists Worry About the Ozone Layer. By Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, February 23, 2007. "Until recently, it looked like the depleted ozone layer protecting the earth from harmful solar rays was on its way to being healed. But thanks in part to an explosion of demand for air-conditioners in hot places like India and southern China — mostly relying on refrigerants already banned in Europe and in the process of being phased out in the United States — the ozone layer is proving very hard to repair. Four months ago, scientists discovered that the 'hole' created by the world's use of ozone-depleting gases — in aerosol spray cans, aging refrigerators and old air-conditioners — had expanded again, stretching once more to the record size of 2001... Rising living standards throughout India and China, the world's two most populous countries and the fastest-growing major economies, have given a lot more people the wherewithal to make their homes more comfortable. The problem is that [the] air-conditioners — along with most window units currently sold in the United States — use a refrigerant called HCFC-22, which damages the ozone... Nearly 200 diplomats will gather in September in Montreal to determine how to speed the timetable for the elimination of certain gases that threaten the ozone layer, in particular how to manage HCFC-22... Pound for pound, HCFC-22 is only 5 percent as harmful to the ozone layer as the chlorofluorocarbons it replaced. But it still inflicts damage, especially when emitted in enormous quantities by China, now the world's dominant producer of window air-conditioners, and by India, a fast-growing market and manufacturer."

Poll in Scotland Shows that Children are Anxious about Global Warming. The Edinburgh Scotsman, February 23, 2007. "Half of children between the ages of seven and 11 are anxious about the effects of global warming and often lose sleep over it, according to a new report. A survey of 1,150 youngsters found that one in four blamed politicians for the problems of climate change, while one in seven said their own parents were not doing enough to improve the environment. The most feared consequences of global warming included poor health, the possible submergence of entire countries and the welfare of animals. Most of those polled in the survey by supermarket chain Somerfield understood the benefits of recycling... Pete Williams, of Somerfield, said: 'Kids are exposed to the hard facts as much as anybody. While many adults may look the other way, this study should show that global warming is not only hurting the children of the future, it's affecting the welfare of kids now.'"

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