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Obama's Green Stimulus Too Slow to Deliver Money or Jobs

Time lags on projects that were supposed to deliver a quick fix to the economy hurt Democrats at the polls, especially in the Midwest

by Suzanne Goldenberg

Nov 10, 2010

From the moment he was elected president in the depths of a historic recession, Barack Obama held up a clear vision for America's economic future: .

Two years on, 15 million people are still looking for work and frustration with Obama's failure to haul the country out of recession led Democrats to a humiliating defeat in .

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New Mexico Adopts Emissions Cap, But Challenges Expected

The Environmental Improvement Board approves a controversial plan to restrict greenhouse gases starting in 2012. The state can now trade carbon allowances

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 10, 2010

WASHINGTON—Call it Bill Richardson’s last green hurrah. 

Even though cap-and-trade measures were maligned as poison for the tottering economy during the midterm election cycle, New Mexico’s Democratic governor is finally able to boast that his state has endorsed such a method for slicing global warming pollutants. 

Fittingly, it was Election Day when a regulatory body named the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board voted 4-3 to approve a controversial and relatively aggressive plan to restrict greenhouse gases beginning in 2012. The New Mexico Department of Environment–backed policy requires major polluters such as coal-fired power plants and the oil and gas industry to curb carbon dioxide emissions 2 percent per year until 2020. 

But with Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez opposed to the initiative, will Richardson’s joy be short-lived? 

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"Fraser's Penguins" Documents Stark Climate Change in the Antarctic

In a new book, a veteran journalist spends five months with a researcher studying the effects of a melting world on ice-dependent penguins

By Jennifer Pinkowski

Nov 10, 2010

Bill Fraser’s decades-long research on the impact of climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula's decreasingly icy ecosystem—and, most famously, its tuxedoed inhabitants—is the subject of a .
 
(Henry Holt and Co., $26) details the five months senior editor and author Fen Montaigne () spent in Antarctica with the ecologist studying thousands of Adélie penguins during their breeding season.

“It’s the tale of how Fraser came to believe—and I think it’s widely accepted now—that warming is the main cause behind the drop in the penguin populations,” Montaigne told SolveClimate News.

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Study Finds CO2 the Culprit in Ancient Global Warming

Scientists describe an actual warming event rather than one predicted by a model

By Catherine M. Cooney

Nov 9, 2010

Some 40 million years ago, the world experienced an extreme spike in global warming. The heat was so intense that deep sea temperatures rose by about 4 degrees Celsius. This enigmatic sultry period, known as the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO), marked a 400,000-year-long heat wave in the midst of a long era of global cooling.

Now research published Nov. 5 in the journal Science suggests the rise in surface sea temperature occurred during a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were particularly high, according to a research team from Utrecht University and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

First reported by U.S. scientists in 2003, the MECO warming period has been documented by data from a smattering of sites around the world. “Our paper is among the first to show that CO2 concentrations and the temperature varied hand in hand in that time,” says Peter Bijl, a paleoclimatologist at the Netherlands’ Utretcht University and one of the paper’s lead authors.

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New Shipping Lanes in Melting Arctic Will Accelerate Global Warming

But current technology can reduce ship pollution 90%, and a House committee is weighing law to reduce black carbon emissions

By Lisa Song

Nov 9, 2010

In the next few decades, a warming Arctic will open up shorter shipping routes, potentially reducing the amount of fuel needed to travel between ports. But the increased amount of soot in the atmosphere could further accelerate the region's climate change, and the shorter distances won't generate enough fuel savings to offset the impact.

Those are the key findings of a published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. This new study is the first systematic analysis of how Arctic shipping could affect local climate.

About 15,000 ship trips occur in the Arctic region (north of 60° latitude) each year, but they comprise a small fraction of global shipping. Melting sea ice could create ice-free passages by 2030 and create shortcuts for global trade. Two of the most anticipated routes are the Northwest Passage linking Japan to eastern Canada, and the Northeast Passage along Russia's northern coast, which would connect China with Europe.

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"Citizen Scientists" to Analyze Weather Logs from WWI Ships

An interactive online project asks volunteers to mine British ship logs for "old weather" data to improve climate change models

By Sara Stroud

Nov 9, 2010

A new online science project from British climate researchers is tapping into the power of crowdsourcing to enrich the historic climate record. In the next six months alone, Old Weather’s citizen scientists may process data that would take a single researcher 28 years to tackle.
 
Through , which launched in late October, volunteers log weather observations from more than 200 World War I–era British naval ship logs. Scientists will use that data to paint a clearer picture of past weather and make predictions about the weather of the future—including potential impacts of climate change—and to test and refine climate models.
 
“We built models, but we want to know if they’re any good,” said Philip Brohan of the , one of the UK’s leading climate change research centers, and one of the climate scientists behind Old Weather. “We need big databases and long records.” 

 

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GOP Leaders with Poor Green Voting Records to Call the Shots in the House

Pelosi's LCV score is 92, Boehner's is 2. Waxman had a 91, his top scoring potential replacement scores 39.

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 8, 2010

WASHINGTON—Now that Republicans will be calling the shots in the House, the Democratic duo responsible for crafting the polemical cap-and-trade energy legislation are on their way out of powerful positions.
 
Rep. Henry Waxman of California will lose his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will no longer head up the Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. The latter committee, formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2007, might be disbanded by Republican leaders.
 
On Nov. 2, both Democrats were re-elected to what will be their 19th terms in the 112th Congress. Compared with Waxman, the three Republicans now jockeying to lead the energy committee have “radically different scores” for their environmental voting records from the League of Conservation Voters, said Gene Karpinski, president of the advocacy organization.
 
The California Democrat has earned a lifetime score of 91 on a scale of 100 from the league.

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Tribes Working to Buck Unemployment with Green Jobs

"You’re not sovereign unless you’re controlling your energy future.”

By Autumn Spanne

Nov 7, 2010

When Dillon Toya started his senior year at 's Walatowa Charter High School in northern New Mexico last fall, he wanted his senior project to combine the teachings of his ancestors with cutting-edge building design. 

Six months later, the 18-year-old high school graduate and aspiring architect had designed a new energy efficient high school building that he hopes will one day replace the portable trailers where he and his 66 classmates studied. The proposed building, designed to resemble traditional Pueblo dwellings of adobe and wood, includes solar panels to generate electricity, a solar-powered heating system and water recycling.
 
Toya’s project reflects one of many ways that impoverished Jemez Pueblo is building strong connections between its education system and its fledgling green energy industry. And it’s not alone. Jemez Pueblo is an example of a larger movement among native groups to promote a green sector that they hope will chip away at a problem that has plagued their communities for years: high unemployment. The jobless rate in native communities is often several times the national average.
 

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Despite Electoral Outcomes, Poll Shows Voters Want Clean Economy

By a 22 percent margin, voters support EPA oversight of carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 5, 2010

 WASHINGTON—Environmental organizations fearful of being blamed for Tuesday’s devastating Democratic losses trotted out a poll they say shows support for cap-and-trade legislation did not contribute significantly to the defeat of House incumbents.
 
Those findings come from a who actually cast ballots in 83 battleground House districts nationwide. Washington, D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the poll Nov. 1 and 2.
 
When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited an answer related to energy or cap and trade. When offered a list of six arguments that Republicans made against Democrats, 7 percent selected what the GOP mislabeled a “cap and tax.” 

 

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Commercial Space Tourism May Spike Black Carbon Emissions

Opening of America's first spaceport and expectation of 1000 suborbital flights a year create new source of warming pollution

By Joan Oleck

Nov 5, 2010

Commercial space travel on private rocket ships took a major step toward reality on Oct. 25 with the dedication of a nearly two-mile-long runway at the “operating hub” north of Las Cruces, N.M. Each flight will take passengers 62.5 miles above the Earth into weightless space, remain there four or five minutes, and then return to Earth.

On hand was Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group; Bill Richardson, New Mexico’s governor and the former U.S. Energy secretary; and about 30 civilian “future astronauts” planning space travel via Branson’s company, .

But at a time when a half-dozen U.S. companies are vying to be the first to bring tourists to space, a report to be published in November in the journal warns that fuel emissions from such rocket launches may pose serious consequences for the Earth’s stratosphere—causing as much as a 1-degree Centigrade rise in polar temperatures and a 5 percent to 15 percent reduction in polar ice.

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