Anthony Leiserowitz for The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:

In a nationally representative survey we conducted last month, we found that – by nearly a two to one margin – Americans support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired plants, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increases.

However, the country is divided on the issue by political party. A large majority of Democrats support setting such limits, fewer than half of Republicans support it, and Independents are evenly divided.

Greg Sargent in the Washington Post’s Plum Line:

In a speech last night, embattled Senator Kay Hagan blasted GOP challenger Thom Tillis over his climate denialism, arguing that North Carolina “needs a Senator who believes climate change exists.” Hagan added: “Unlike my opponent who flatly denied the existence of climate change, I know the EPA’s ability to responsibly regulate greenhouse gas emissions is key to protecting our environment for future generations.” However, Hagan has also called on the EPA to delay the introduction of pending new rules on carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, something Tillis has tried to turn into an issue. The two moves aren’t necessarily contradictory — Hagan says we need a longer public comment period for those who will be impacted, not that there shouldn’t be any new rules — but they do underscore that embattled Senate Dems may find themselves in a tricky political position when Obama rolls out the new rules next week. This is also the latest sign climate change could actually become something of an issue in this year’s campaigns, something environmentalists have long hoped for. Read the rest of this entry »

You’ll certainly be encouraged, as I was, to find out that Exxon is taking climate change seriously – and “hardening its assets”  to prepare for far more severe extreme events.

Natural Gas Intel:

ExxonMobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson made a serious and thoughtful effort Wednesday to make the case that the company is just as concerned about climate change as the most rabid protester.

There’s still no definitive answer to the outcome of what may happen because of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions that are said to contribute to it, he said in Dallas during the annual shareholder meeting. While a group of protesters outside the building was challenging the company’s policies, Tillerson said ExxonMobil was taking responsibility.

Climate change is one of the things that management views as a “risk management problem,” and that makes it a priority.

“I think for a long time, the whole time we were talking about it, the whole conversation was about ‘how are we going to stop greenhouse gas concentrations from reaching certain levels in the atmosphere?’ My view of that was multiple-fold,” a view that he said is shared by many stockholders and the business community.

As to “achieving certain levels that some suggest have to be achieved, there’s no one today that can map a viable pathway to achieve that. No one. No one has a viable path on the way to get there. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive. And I think the steps we’re taking as a corporation are enabling at least progress toward mitigation.”

In April, ExxonMobil agreed to disclose for the first time more details about the risks of drilling unconventional wells that use hydraulic fracturing, complying with minority shareholder demands (see Daily GPIApril 4). In March the operator agreed to publish, also for the first time ever, a carbon asset risk report describing how it assesses the risks of stranded assets from climate change (seeDaily GPIMarch 20).

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What’s interesting to me about this tornado video is not the tornado, but  that it appears to be taken in a North Dakota Oilfield “man camp”.
Take a good look. It’s the future that big Oil has in mind for much of America. The new American dream – a nation of migrant workers in the global extractive economy.

Chris Mooney in Mother Jones:

For 11 episodes now, the groundbreaking Fox and National Geographic Channel seriesCosmos has been exploring the universe, outraging creationists, and giving science teachers across the nation something to show in class every Monday. In the process, the show has been drawing more than 3 million viewers every Sunday night, a respectable number for a science-focused show that is, after all, a major departure from what primetime audiences are used to.

Cosmos certainly hasn’t shied from controversy; it has taken on evolution and industry-funded science denial, and it has been devoting an increasing amount of attention to the subject of climate change. And apparently that was just the beginning. This coming Sunday,Cosmos will devote an entire episode to the topic. Here’s the episode description from National Geographic:

Our journey begins with a trip to another world and time, an idyllic beach during the last perfect day on the planet Venus, right before a runaway greenhouse effect wreaks havoc on the planet, boiling the oceans and turning the skies a sickening yellow. We then trace the surprisingly lengthy history of our awareness of global warming and alternative energy sources, taking the Ship of the Imagination to intervene at some critical points in time.

 

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But look over here at the shiny keys.

I’m not a doctor, but I know that cigarettes are bad for you. I’m not a geographer, but I know the earth is round, not flat.
Increasingly, hard core GOP politicians, like Florida Governor Rick Scott, are getting less comfortable with blanket denials of climate science – particularly in places like Florida, where the process is not intellectual, but an existential threat, as the South Florida news report above indicates.

I’m not a psychologist, but I recognize evasion and diversion when I see it.

Miami Herald Blog:

“I’m not a scientist,” Scott said when asked about anthropogenic global warming during a Tuesday stop in Miami. Scott then talked about money for flood control and Everglades restoration.

Scott’s refusal to weigh in on the issue contrasts with his position in 2011, when he said “I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change… Nothing’s convinced me that there is.”

So is Scott repositioning himself now, believing more in man-made climate change? Scott wouldn’t say.

“I’m not a scientist,” Scott repeated, noting again his environmental record.

Scott’s new position resembles that of another top Florida Republican office holder, Sen. Marco Rubio, who has also expressed skepticism. Rubio, too, says he’s not a scientist and he won’t answer the question about whether he believes humans are causing the planet to warm.

Unlike Scott, though, Rubio hasn’t issued a blanket denial of man-made climate change and he gives a major reason for his skepticism: There has been a 15-year pause in surface-temperature readings despite an increase in carbon dioxide emissions world wide.

Climate scientists, an estimated 97 percent of whom say man-made climate change is real and significant, point to data that show the oceans and the upper-level atmosphere are heating, and that the overall trend of all temperature readings in the last century are climbing.A recent national climate-change report indicated that Florida will be exceptionally vulnerable if the seas continue to rise.

Here’s the question-and-answer with Scott:

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It used to be when you heard about a disaster in the third world, if you thought about it at all, you might send 10 bucks to the Red Cross, or maybe nowadays,text it.

What we have to wrap our minds around is that many developing countries are now armed with weapons of mass destruction. In the case of Syria, chemical weapons, India and Pakistan, and soon, maybe Iran, and a host of others (thanks to our friend the atom!) nukes.

They will not go quietly. As the rivers dry up, the fields go barren, the temperatures rise, the rains fail, and the glacier melt stops flowing – they will not go quietly.

ClimateProgress:

Sea level rise impacting naval bases. Climate change altering natural disasterresponse. Drought influenced by climate change in the Middle East and Africa leading to conflicts over food and water — as in, for instance, Syria.

The military understands the realities of climate change and the negative impacts of heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

The U.S. House does not.

With a mostly party-line vote on Thursday, the House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) that seeks to prevent the Department of Defense from using funding to address the national security impacts of climate change.

“You can’t change facts by ignoring them,” said Mike Breen, Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, and leader of the clean energy campaign, Operation Free. “This is like trying to lose 20 pounds by smashing your bathroom scale.”

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mortalthreat

I know that one of these days I’ll be dropping my landline, and going just to cell. It’s really only through habit that I continue to have one.  It was a good system, and worked for most of a century. But now we really can do better.

If I was a utility manager, I’d be looking at my fossil fuel plants the way I look at my landline.

Barrons:

Barclays this week downgrades the entire electric sector of the U.S. high-grade corporate bond market to underweight, saying it sees long-term challenges to electric utilities from solar energy, and that the electric sector of the bond market isn’t pricing in these challenges right now. It’s a noteworthy downgrade since electric utilities which make up nearly 7.5% of Barclays’ U.S. Corporate Index by market value. From Barclays credit strategy team:

Electric utilities… are seen by many investors as a sturdy and defensive subset of the investment grade universe. Over the next few years, however, we believe that a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and residential-scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo. Based on our analysis, the cost of solar + storage for residential consumers of electricity is already competitive with the price of utility grid power in Hawaii. Of the other major markets, California could follow in 2017, New York and Arizona in 2018, and many other states soon after.

In the 100+ year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power. We believe that solar + storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade. We see near-term risks to credit from regulators and utilities falling behind the solar + storage adoption curve and long-term risks from a comprehensive re-imagining of the role utilities play in providing electric power. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Jason Box, speaking to me via Skype from Copenhagen, where he is a scientist with the Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland.
I asked him about recent findings that show Greenland’s ice to be even more vulnerable than we thought. The research came from the same team that has published new dire warnings on the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Chris Mooney, interviewing Richard Alley in Mother Jones:

And it gets even worse: West Antarctica isn’t the only worry. To hear Alley tell it, it’s just that West Antarctica is pretty much lost to us already. Next up is a place that we might still be able to save, but that we’re currently playing an insane game of roulette with: Greenland.

It contains much more water than West Antarctica: about 23 feet of global sea level rise. That’s equivalent, on a worldwide scale, to the storm surge caused by Supertyphoon Haiyanwhen it struck the Philippines last year.

And here again, the news isn’t good. Recently published research finds that much more of the Greenland Ice Sheet than previously believed is exposed, from beneath, to the ocean. Basically, the new science amounts to a topographical remapping exercise—for terrain that is as much as three miles below a vast sheet of ice. And it turns out that the canyons beneath Greenland’s glaciers are deeper than scientists previously thought, and in some cases, well below sea level. This means, in turn, that more of the ice sheet is potentially exposed to warming seas—similar to the ice sheet of West Antarctica.

Illustration showing newly revealed topography of subsealevel glacial channels in Greenland, from the new Nature Geoscience paper by Morlighem, Rignot et al Note below sea level “bowl” in the interior.

“It doesn’t yet say, ‘Greenland is about to fall into the ocean, run for the hills,'” Alley says, “but it does make Greenland look a little bit more vulnerable than we thought.”

But not yet sacrificed. Not yet gone. For Alley, then, the true upshot of the West Antarctica news is this: It makes saving Greenland absolutely essential. Ten feet of sea level rise will be incredibly painful to adapt to already, but 33 feet from the combined loss of West Antarctica and Greenland? It’s simply inconceivable. There is no such thing as adapting to that.

Essentially, then, we need an all out global push to stop global warming and save Greenland—and thus, the places where we all live.

Alley puts it like this: “If we’ve committed to 3.3 meters from West Antarctica, we haven’t committed to losing Greenland, we haven’t committed to losing most of East Antarctica. Those are still out there for us. And if anything, this new news just makes our decisions more important, and more powerful.”

Dr. Box and I will be joining an international team on the Greenland Ice this summer, in a new Dark Snow Project initiative. As Dr. Alley points out, the stakes have never been higher for understanding the key drivers of Greenland melt.  If you have not contributed to Dark Snow yet, please consider a tax deductible gift now.

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mercer_outside

It’s said he liked to conduct research on the Antarctic glaciers while nude. I like hard core types.

John Mercer was a glaciologist at Ohio State University, considered eccentric by his colleagues not so much for his dress, as for his predictions of near term collapse of Antarctic ice shelves due to climate change.  The warning, published in 1978, has now been borne out, with recent publication of evidence that major ice streams on the West Antarctic’s “soft underbelly” have reached “a point of no return“. This will be the topic of my new video to be uploaded next week, one of the more terrifying pieces I have had to make.

Elsewhere on this page, see video of Dr. Jason Box, formerly a professor in the same OSU program where Mercer worked, on further implications of the new research for Greenland. (Dr. Box is now at the Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland)

NYTimes:

The new finding appears to be the fulfillment of a prediction made in 1978 by an eminent glaciologist, John H. Mercer of the Ohio State University. He outlined the vulnerable nature of the West Antarctic ice sheet and warnedthat the rapid human-driven release of greenhouse gases posed “a threat of disaster.” He was assailed at the time, but in recent years, scientists have been watching with growing concern as events have unfolded in much the way Dr. Mercer predicted. (He died in 1987.)

Toledo Blade:

COLUMBUS — Thirty-six years after catching flak for one of the most bold and dire predictions about global warming, former Ohio State University glaciologist John H. Mercer is being hailed as a visionary.

Mr. Mercer was hardly the first to sound an alarm about greenhouse gases: Scientists were well on their way by the late 1950s toward connecting mankind’s burning of fossil fuels to Earth’s changing climate.

But Mr. Mercer made a groundbreaking contribution with a peer-reviewed research paper about West Antarctica’s instability he got published on Jan. 26, 1978, in the scientific journal Nature.

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When my late Father, then 75 years old, retired – many years ago, he decided to ride his bicycle from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine, and did so.
One thing that amazed him was the number of people along the way who threw things at him from their vehicles.

Is bike-ism like racism?  Are bicyclists in the vanguard of the culture war? What makes some people have some kind of irrational hatred for anyone on a human powered vehicle?

What do you imagine the cross over is between climate denial and bicycle-rage? Watch the video. I’ll leave it to you.

Raw Story:

An Alabama man who posted videos of himself complaining about bicyclists has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment.

In the videos, Keith Maddox describes what it’s like sharing the road with bicyclists as he drives to work.

“See what I was talking about?” he says in a video posted on May 21, 2014. “Look there! Look right there. I ought to run him in the ditch. Ride your little bicycle!” he yells as he passes the bicyclist.

“You piece of crap! I oughta run him in the ditch is what I shoulda done! I shoulda put him in the ditch.”

In another video, he passes a bicyclist and says, “Lord have mercy, I’m gonna hurt one of them one of these days. Can’t help myself, I’m gonna do it.”

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