Enviro News Wrap: Obama and Climate Change; Extreme Weather in 2012, and more...
GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:
- 2012 was a wild year for the environment, and storm Sandy made sure the year ended with a horrible bang in the US. But, will 2013 be better or worse, that will be for us to decide.
- The US government handed down a fine to Transocean, owner of the oil platform involved in the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, of over $1 billion. $800 million will go to addressing economic and environmental issues in the Gulf of Mexico region. These companies make so much money that they can devastate our environment, pay the fines, and continue their business, its shameful.
- Obama has been re-elected and his willingness to comprehensively address climate change is yet to be seen. I hope that Obama has some surprises for us, but he can't change his tune without our loud support. Checking outBill McKibben's 350.org is a good place to start.
- With climate change comes human adaption. Humans will migrate and so will our economic activity. Its looking like the US-Canadian border is a good place to buy land right now, imagine Nebraska, the Dakotas and other northern states becoming much more active for agriculture and human habitation.
- Republicans questioned the very existence of climate change in the last Presidential election. Unless they change their tune they will continue to lose elections, but at least one Republican has the clarity of mind to even mention that climate change is a real problem. He waited until his last day in office though, so while he may have some clarity of mind he doesn't have the fortitude to bring up the issue when he actually has the ability to affect anything at all. Sigh.
- The future effects of climate change will be very visible, for example Lake Tahoe could cease to offer skiing, and the lake itself will not be spared. To make future effects clear for the current population a climate change video game would drive the point home.
- The USA avoided its self-created fiscal cliff, and it extended and improved the wind energy federal tax credit for one year.
- Jerry Brown is the Governor of the most environmentally progressive state in the US, and like Obama he is trying to be pragmatic by angering both environmentalists and the dirty energy industry. While the "all of the above" approach is easy to do politically it is not what our environment needs. We need to phase out dirty industries, not support their continued dominance.
- Early in Obama's first term he signed in the Cash for Clunkers program where owners of old cars got to sell their cars to the US government so they could buy new cars. In conjunction with this Obama raised fuel efficiency standards so that the cars of the future will get much more miles per gallon. The point of the Cash for Clunkers program though was to keep the US auto industry alive, it was not an environmental effort. Part of the problem is that the cars and their parts were mostly destroyed instead of recycled.
- The Keystone XL pipeline being built to bring the extra dirty Canadian Tar Sands oil to the US is moving forward. The project was stalled when the planned route was identified as horribly disruptive for land owners. Those issues are being dealt with and despite the terror that this pipeline will inflict on our atmosphere the project is looking like it will be completed.
- Former Governor of Washington State Christine Gregoire is the current favorite for taking over the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Weather in the UK in 2012 was unruly - if it continues the cost of climate change will be disruptive before we even get to the worst case scenarios laid out for the year 2050.
- The Fukushima Nuclear plant disaster continues as cleanup crews dump toxic material into rivers.