Enviro News Wrap: Carbon Tax Bill Proposed; Drought Continues; DOD Releases Climate Adaptation Roadmap, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • The “urban heat bubble” theory explains why urban areas are hotter than their neighboring natural environments. More heat is absorbed when we cover the land in asphalt roads, cement sidewalks and tar roofs and get rid of vegetation and water features. A new concept that is taking hold is called “green roofs,” which involves putting both plants and renewable energy generators (like solar) on our roofs. Imagine a roof that both feeds you, powers your home and reduces the effect of the urban heat bubble.
  • Drought has been a major issue in the US for the last two years and might continue to plague us. With multi-year droughts, record forest fires and huge frequent storms much of the US government budget is being diverted to disaster relief, we are paying the price of altering the natural system. That is just the immediate impact that we are already experiencing, what about the melting of our poles, are you ready for the melting of the Arctic?
  • Senator Barbara Boxer has proposed a Carbon Tax bill in the US Senate. Republicans have always prided themselves with being financially responsible during the campaign season, now they can follow through with that rhetoric and get behind a market-based solution to climate change. Of course, they will first have to admit that climate change is real and human caused.
  • The US military has been ahead of the game on many technologies, and right now they are pushing forward aggressively on clean energy and adaption to the effects and threats of climate change. The Department of Defense has just publish a Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.
  • Scientists released research last week warning the a 1.5 degree C rise in global temperature is enough to melt the Siberian permafrost; and likely much of the rest of the permafrost throughout the rest of the northern latitudes. The melting permafrost may push the climate system past a tipping point.  This means that if a 2 degree C global temperature increase is too much, and 1.5 degrees C is enough to melt permafrost that will add another .5 degrees C to global warming then we are closer to the point of no return then we think. I personally think runaway climate change is already ensured, adaption should be our primary focus with prevention as a side effect of adaption.
  • The fight over the XL Pipeline is heating up and Obama is caught between upholding his rhetoric on climate change and maintaining a positive relationship with Canada. The problem here is that the Canadian government has invested themselves financially in the Alberta Tar Sands project and the current government draws a lot of support from that region. No matter Obama’s decision he will make enemies, so the question now is will he side with environmentalists and risk a decline in the good relationship between the US and Canada, or will he side with Canada and risk a decline in the good relationship of the Democratic party and environmentalists? And if he does approve the pipeline, how would environmentalists vote in the 2016 Presidential election, or even the 2014 mid-term election?
  • Renewable energy is growing fast in this modern world, governments used to push for small targets to just get renewable energy into the mix, but now governments are pushing for 100 percent renewable energy targets. This is really exciting for the renewable energy industry since government support brought us the current dirty energy landscape putting them in a perfect position to encourage a clean new world.
  • I have tracked and highlighted on this blog the Koch brothers. They are the most visible big spenders in American politics on the side of global warming denial. In 2012 the Koch brothers spent disgusting amounts on conservative issues and conservative politicians, but they were very unsuccessful. Does this mean that money in politics does not buy everything? Well, the Koch brothers are going back to the drawing board and are trying to figure out how to make their money more effective, but will the deep pockets of their fellow conservatives be there to support them next time in 2014 or 2016?
  • Natural gas is sold as a bridge fuel; a transition from coal and oil in the US  to a clean energy future. Instead of bridging to the new energy economy it is crowding out investment in renewable energy while making us once again dependent on a cheap, dirty fuel source that will just explode in price in good time. Another boom is domestic production of oil, those reserves are supposed to be a last resort, instead we are just going to drill it all up and be without that dirty, but vital, reserve.



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