Sustainable Arlington

Arlington Vision 2020 Committee/Mass. Climate Action Network (MCAN) Chapter


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This page includes content from the Climate Change News blog, which is maintained daily by David Landskov, and content from our old SA blog archives.

  • Beyond Harvey and Irma:  Climate Action Will Become Top Military Priority - By Michael Klare

    Climate Change News Sep 26, 2017 | 16:08 pm

    Beyond Harvey and Irma:  Climate Action Will Become Top Military Priority - By Michael Klare The devastating hurricanes Harvey and Irma saw the U.S. military involved in emergency operations on a massive scale, writes energy expert and author Michael T. Klare.  The future will hold more of the same.  As the planet heats up, the armed forces and the nation will face an existential crisis, according to Klare, which will result in the need for a new, largely non-military strategic posture that puts climate action above other geopolitical priorities. Deployed to the Houston area to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, U.S. military forces hadn’t even completed their assignments when they were hurriedly dispatched to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to face Irma, the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.  Florida Governor Rick Scott, who had sent members of the state National Guard to devastated Houston, anxiously recalled them while putting in place emergency measures for his own state.  A small flotilla of naval vessels, originally sent to waters off Texas, was similarly redirected to the Caribbean, while specialized combat units drawn from as far afield as Colorado, Illinois, and Rhode Island were rushed to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  Meanwhile, members of the California National Guard were being mobilized to fight wildfires raging across that state (as across much of the West) during its hottest summer on record. Think of this as the new face of homeland security:  containing the damage to America’s seacoasts, forests, and other vulnerable areas caused by extreme weather events made all the more[…]

  • How a Dam Building Boom Is Transforming the Brazilian Amazon

    Climate Change News Sep 26, 2017 | 16:01 pm

    How a Dam Building Boom Is Transforming the Brazilian Amazon Brazil is in the midst of a hydropower construction boom that is inundating large areas of rainforest and driving indigenous people from their lands — all while failing to fully develop the country’s vast potential for solar and wind energy.} Brazil is in the midst of a dam-building spree in the Amazon basin that is changing the face of the world’s largest tropical forest region.  The boom is driven by the country’s agricultural and heavy industrial interests, is being carried out with little regard to the impacts on indigenous people and the environment, is proceeding with little effort to capitalize on the nation’s vast renewable energy potential, and is often fueled by corruption. The most notable example is the massive Belo Monte Dam, the world’s fourth-largest hydroelectric project.  The dam itself has already blocked the 1,000-mile Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon. Belo Monte’s reservoir, filled at the end of 2015, flooded 260 square miles of lowlands and forest, displaced more than 20,000 people, and caused extensive damage to a river ecosystem that contains more than 500 fish species, many of them found nowhere else.  When the turbine installation is complete, 80 percent of the river’s flow will be detoured from the river’s natural channel, which – among other impacts – will leave three indigenous groups without the fish and turtles on which they depend. Now, the Brazilian government has set its sights on the Tapajós River, another major tributary of the Amazon River that drains an area[…]

  • Exxon Vows to Cut Methane Leaks from U.S. Shale Oil and Gas Operations

    Climate Change News Sep 26, 2017 | 07:00 am

    Exxon Vows to Cut Methane Leaks from U.S. Shale Oil and Gas Operations Environmentalists say Exxon's move demonstrates that the entire industry can stop methane emissions that are contributing to climate change. ExxonMobil said on Monday that it would take a series of steps to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from its U.S. onshore oil and gas production.  The measures will include upgrading equipment and finding and repairing leaks. The announcement comes as the Trump administration is working to postpone and review federal rules that would require similar steps across the industry.  Oil and gas trade groups sued to block those rules, saying they were too costly.  Now, some environmentalists say Exxon's move undermines that argument. "At a time when there are some companies making the argument that the sky is going to fall if they're required to take sensible action to reduce methane emissions, you have the nation's largest oil and gas producer simply moving ahead," said Mark Brownstein, vice president for climate and energy at the Environmental Defense Fund. "It begins to send a signal to both others in industry and frankly the policymakers that these sorts of things are doable," he said. Exxon didn't disclose how many tons of methane emissions its voluntary measures might prevent.  But Brownstein said that based on Exxon's announcement, the steps could go even farther than the federal rules require, because they would apply to both new and existing facilities on private lands as well as public lands....Better Technology, Fewer EmissionsIn its announcement, Exxon said that over three years it would phase[…]

  • Brazil to Reinstate Protection for Amazon Reserve

    Climate Change News Sep 26, 2017 | 06:19 am

    Brazil to Reinstate Protection for Amazon Reserve Brazil will reinstate a mining ban in a vast area of the Amazon rainforest, the government announced on Monday, in an about-face that is a victory for environmentalists who feared deforestation. The Mines and Energy Ministry said in a statement that President Michel Temer’s administration had decided to revoke an August decree abolishing the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), an area of roughly 17,800 square miles (46,100 square kilometers) or slightly larger than Denmark....The reserve covers a section of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, the preservation of which is seen as essential to soaking up carbon emissions responsible for global warming. Read more at Brazil to Reinstate Protection for Amazon Reserve

  •   Monday, Sept 25

    Climate Change News Sep 26, 2017 | 03:58 am

      Monday, Sept 25

  • US Faces Higher Risk of Floods

    Climate Change News Sep 25, 2017 | 20:07 pm

    US Faces Higher Risk of Floods The US Atlantic coast faces the prospect of more frequent floods due to the double whammy of rising sea levels and sinking coastal lands. Cities on America’s Atlantic coast are likely to see more flooding.  It won’t just be catastrophic inundation, delivered by hurricane:  it could also be routine, fine weather nuisance flooding. And that will happen not just because of sea-level rise, driven by global warming, but by another factor:  in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the coastal lands are sinking, declining by up to 3mm a year, according to a new study in Scientific Reports. Long-term studiesThe conclusion is backed up by analysis of two decades of global positioning satellite data, gravitational measurements from space, and studies of groundwater traffic. “There are primarily two reasons for this phenomenon,” says Makan A Karegar, of the University of South Florida, and a guest researcher at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn in Germany.  “During the last ice age around 20,000 years ago, large parts of Canada were covered by an ice sheet.  This tremendous mass pressed down on the continent.” The weight of the ice depressed the mantle beneath the planet’s crust, and in consequence tracts of land not covered by ice were uplifted. “When the ice sheet then melted, this process was reversed,” Karegar says.  “The East Coast has thus been sinking back down for the last few thousand years.”  But what geophysicists call isostatic adjustment may not be the only force at[…]

  • Anger at EU Climate Chief’s Suggestion US Can Backtrack on Paris

    Climate Change News Sep 25, 2017 | 19:57 pm

    Anger at EU Climate Chief’s Suggestion US Can Backtrack on Paris EU commissioner has signaled that the US can downgrade its pledge to the Paris deal, but poor countries say such an act would “undermine global solidarity” A suggestion by the EU’s climate chief that the US might water down its carbon-cutting pledge to the Paris climate agreement has sparked outrage among veteran negotiators and developing countries. Diplomats from poor nations told Climate Home that it would amount to indefensible “backsliding” and could “open a Pandora’s box”, while Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador at COP21, said US backtracking would violate the spirit of the Paris deal. EU commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Cañete has previously said that the Trump presidency might “chart its own path” within the treaty. Last week, while briefing reporters on a meeting with a senior US official at a summit in Montreal, Cañete said:  “They are willing to re-engage under the Paris Agreement but they want to check some of the terms under which they agreed to participate previously.  We assume that means that the US will revisit at some time the targets put forward by the previous administration.” Read more at Anger at EU Climate Chief’s Suggestion US Can Backtrack on Paris

  • Electric Cars Have Obvious & Not-So-Obvious Impacts

    Climate Change News Sep 25, 2017 | 06:30 am

    Electric Cars Have Obvious & Not-So-Obvious Impacts Electric cars and other vehicles continue to gain momentum, just as autonomous features are becoming mainstream.  But while potential job losses due to autonomy are a strong focus, the multitude of impacts electrification will have on road transportation aren’t as clearly stated. Overall, the impact will be very positive economically, but there will be a lot of disruption and many losers too.  Universal basic income isn’t just a value proposition for those displaced by weak artificial intelligence. Let’s assume a reasonable transition period of roughly 40 years to get to the point where electric cars were pretty much the only cars being sold.  Internal combustion cars won’t disappear overnight, after all. Primary impacts:Wealth will be generated globally.  Cars are increasing in number even though there are indications that might be slowing somewhat.  Companies that are successful at making and selling electric cars will make a great deal of money, especially as they take market share from ones that don’t.A lot of legacy car companies won’t make it*.  The global epicenters of automobile manufacturing will have shifted substantially.  California, China, and India will be winners.  Japan, most of Germany, and Detroit will be losers.  Areas of advanced manufacturing and related economic value will shift.  While individual legacy car companies will survive the transition and grow, many will continue to lag and diminish as a result.Much less oil will be consumed.  Peak oil has arrived in a very odd and unexpected way for many.  Hubbert turned out to be right about timing and[…]

  • This Former Coal Miner’s Perspective on Climate Change

    Climate Change News Sep 25, 2017 | 05:45 am

    This Former Coal Miner’s Perspective on Climate Change The world isn’t too big for us to screw up. I do not subscribe to the labels being thrown out these days.  I do not consider myself an environmentalist, a liberal, nor do I consider myself a conservative either.  I am an Appalachian family man who cares about his kids more than the coal companies do. I’m not naive enough to believe that companies who make a profit extracting and selling coal, oil, or natural gas, are telling us the truth.  Instead, they stretch the truth beyond its limits to protect their investments and bottom lines.  We see it every day, and miner’s face it when they are injured and seek compensation to continue feeding their families. Being Appalachian, I also know that many politicians and charitable organizations who have come to “help” us over the years have used our poverty and suffering to gain votes and donations.  It is a problem that continues to occur, and after nearly a century’s worth of exploitation from outside entities, it is no wonder we have trust issues. People are just trying to survive day to day, and when you are just trying to survive, it is difficult to see issues as more than black and white.  We don’t have time to ask questions and research answers outside of the information we receive from the most influential people in our lives—friends, family, and sadly, employers. When it comes to climate change, people rationalize their opinions based on how it affects them.  For those[…]

  • Canada's MGX Minerals Sets Out to Lead Way from Oil to Petrolithium

    Climate Change News Sep 25, 2017 | 05:00 am

    Canada's MGX Minerals Sets Out to Lead Way from Oil to Petrolithium A small Canadian miner has set out to lead the way into petrolithium production, combining oil for conventional vehicles with lithium for electric vehicles produced from oilfield waste water. Shares in MGX Minerals (XMG.CD) have doubled this year as investors seek exposure to the predicted electric vehicle revolution that many of the conventional resource firms do not provide. It has acquired acreage that establishes it as Canada’s biggest holder of lithium brine assets with around 2 million acres’ worth in North America. Much of it is in the Paradox Basin in Utah, which could position MGX to provide lithium to Tesla’s (TSLA.O) battery factory in neighboring Nevada. MGX CEO Jared Lazerson said commercial confidentiality rules meant he could not comment on whether any agreements had been signed....Lithium is not rare and some analysts say high prices will prove a bubble as more production comes online. Processing capacity, however, can be an issue and auto makers are locking in contracts with suppliers. Lazerson says MGX’s advantage as the car industry wakes up to its need for lithium for battery-powered electric vehicles is that it can bring on production quickly and at a relatively low capital cost using brine wastewater in oilfields.  Economics are favorable as lithium production effectively boosts the oil price....Lazerson says pilot projects using oilfield brine have been successful and the aim is to ramp up to processing 1,200 cubic meters of brine per day around the end of the year.  So far it has processed up to 20[…]