Tag Archives: Climate Change

5/22/2012 Grist: Peabody Coal buys coal from U.S. taxpayers for cheap, sells it abroad for huge profit

Peabody Coal buys coal from U.S. taxpayers for cheap, sells it abroad for huge profit By David Roberts  Yesterday, I wrote about the issue of public land in the Powder River Basin being leased to coal companies for cheap, so they can strip-mine it and sell the coal abroad at an enormous profit.  Also yesterday, the feds held a “competitive lease sale” for the South Porcupine Tract, which contains almost 402 million tons of mineable coal.

Guess how many companies bid in this “competitive auction”? One: Peabody Coal, the company that filed the original application [PDF] for the lease.

This was actually the second auction for the tract. The first ended with no sale because BLM rejected Peabody’s lowball offer of $0.90 a ton. The winning price in Thursday’s sale? $1.11 per ton.

Again: $1.11 per ton.

The price of a ton of Powder River Basin coal on U.S. spot markets? $9.15 per ton, as of May 11.

The price of a ton of coal exported to China? It averaged $97.28 per ton [PDF] in 2011. It’s now up to $123 per ton.

And exports are only likely to go upEIA: coal exports

So, to summarize: You, the U.S. taxpayer, just leased another huge chunk of your land to Peabody Coal at $1.11 per ton of coal. Peabody will strip-mine that land and take the coal to China, where it will sell it for over $100 per ton. Peabody pockets enormous profits*, the U.S. taxpayer gets devastated land, and China accelerates global warming.

And it’s all being pushed through by the Obama administration.

Happy Friday.

——

* Now, obviously, $1.11 per ton is not the sum total of Peabody’s costs. They also pay BLM some production royalties and rental fees. And of course it costs them money to mine the coal and ship it to China! Nevertheless, the notion that $1.11 per ton is “fair market value” for coal that Peabody is going to tell for over $100 a ton is a sad joke.

 

5/8/2012 Carlos W. Begay, Sr. & Marsha Monestersky letter to Mr. James Anaya: US government theft of Black Mesa, HPL

4/6/2011 Daily Times: San Juan Generating Station operator requests permit change

4/6/2011 Daily Times: San Juan Generating Station operator requests permit changes [11:10 a.m.] By Chuck Slothower Posted: 04/06/2012 11:09:15 AM MDT: FARMINGTON — The operator of San Juan Generating Station on Friday requested changes to the coal plant’s air permit to allow for the installation of new pollution controls demanded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico has been battling with the EPA over what kind of technology it should install to meet federal haze-reduction requirements.

“We are prepared to move forward on installing new environmental controls that will meet federal visibility requirements and further reduce the plant’s emissions,” PNM chief executive Pat Vincent-Collawn said in a prepared statement Friday. “Our strong preference is to do this in the most cost-effective way so that the cost to PNM customers and our state’s economy is kept as low as possible.”

PNM is pushing a state plan to install nonselective catalytic reduction technology. But the EPA has mandated selective catalytic reduction, a more expensive but much more effective technology.

The Albuquerque-based utility company says the state plan would cost about $77 million, while the EPA’s mandate would cost $750 million or more. The EPA counters that SCR would cost only $345 million.
Friday’s filing with the state Environment Department requests air permit changes that would allow for the installation of either technology.

The plant’s current permit level for nitrogen oxides is 0.30 pounds per MMBtu and would be lowered to either 0.23 pounds per mmBtu with the installation of SNCR or 0.05 pounds per MMBtu with the installation of SCR, the utility said.

Located west of Farmington in Waterflow, San Juan Generating Station produces 1,800 megawatts of electricity. The city of Farmington owns a portion of one of the plant’s four units.

On March 28, PNM and San Juan Mine operator BHP Billiton agreed to a $10 million settlement with the Sierra Club to take steps aimed at keeping coal waste out of nearby streams.

12/4/2011 AlterNet: The Greatest Water Crisis in the History of Civilization

12/4/2011 AlterNet: The Greatest Water Crisis in the History of Civilization: Coming to the American West? Think of the coming Age of Thirst in the American Southwest and West as a three-act tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions. Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust, and heat that have made life unpleasant, if not dangerous, from Louisiana to Los Angeles. New records tell the tale: biggest wildfire ever recorded in Arizona (538,049 acres), biggest fire ever in New Mexico (156,600 acres), all-time worst fire year in Texas history.

The fires were a function of drought. As of summer’s end, 2011 was the driest year in 117 years of record keeping for New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, and the second driest for Oklahoma. Those fires also resulted from record heat. It was the hottest summer ever recorded for New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, as well as the hottest August ever for those states, plus Arizona and Colorado.

Virtually every city in the region experienced unprecedented temperatures, with Phoenix, as usual, leading the march toward unlivability. This past summer, the so-called Valley of the Sun set a new record of 33 days when the mercury reached a shoe-melting 110º F or higher. (The previous record of 32 days was set in 2007.)

And here’s the bad news in a nutshell: if you live in the Southwest or just about anywhere in the American West, you or your children and grandchildren could soon enough be facing the Age of Thirst, which may also prove to be the greatest water crisis in the history of civilization. No kidding.

If that gets you down, here’s a little cheer-up note: the end is not yet nigh.

In fact, this year the weather elsewhere rode to the rescue, and the news for the Southwest was good where it really mattered. Since January, the biggest reservoir in the United States, Lake Mead, backed up by the Hoover Dam and just 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas, has risen almost 40 feet. That lake is crucial when it comes to watering lawns or taking showers from Arizona to California. And the near 40-foot surge of extra water offered a significant upward nudge to the Southwest’s water reserves.

The Colorado River, which the reservoir impounds, supplies all or part of the water on which nearly 30 million people depend, most of them living downstream of Lake Mead in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Tijuana, and scores of smaller communities in the United States and Mexico.

Back in 1999, the lake was full. Patricia Mulroy, who heads the water utility serving Las Vegas, rues the optimism of those bygone days. “We had a fifty-year, reliable water supply,” she says. “By 2002, we had no water supply. We were out. We were done. I swore to myself we’d never do that again.”

In 2000, the lake began to fall — like a boulder off a cliff, bouncing a couple of times on the way down. Its water level dropped a staggering 130 feet, stopping less than seven feet above the stage that would have triggered reductions in downstream deliveries. Then — and here’s the good news, just in case you were wondering — last winter, it snowed prodigiously up north in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The spring and summer run-off from those snowpacks brought enormous relief. It renewed what we in the Southwest like to call the Hydro-Illogic cycle: when drought comes, everybody wrings their hands and promises to institute needed reform, if only it would rain a little. Then the drought breaks or eases and we all return to business as usual, until the cycle comes around to drought again.

So don’t be fooled. One day, perhaps soon, Lake Mead will renew its downward plunge. That’s a certainty, the experts tell us. And here’s the thing: the next time, a sudden rescue by heavy snows in the northern Rockies might not come. If the snowpacks of the future are merely ordinary, let alone puny, then you’ll know that we really are entering a new age.

And climate change will be a major reason, but we’ll have done a good job of aiding and abetting it. The states of the so-called Lower Basin of the Colorado River — California, Arizona, and Nevada — have been living beyond their water means for years. Any departure from recent decades of hydrological abundance, even a return to long-term average flows in the Colorado River, would produce a painful reckoning for the Lower Basin states. And even worse is surely on the way.

Just think of the coming Age of Thirst in the American Southwest and West as a three-act tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions.

The Age of Thirst: Act I

The curtain in this play would surely rise on the Colorado River Compact of 1922, which divided the river’s water equally between the Upper and Lower Basins, allocating to each annually 7.5 million acre-feet, also known by its acronym maf. (An acre-foot suffices to support three or four families for a year.) Unfortunately, the architects of the compact, drawing on data from an anomalously wet historical period, assumed the river’s average annual flow to be about 17 maf per year. Based on reconstructions that now stretch back more than 1,000 years, the river’s long-term average is closer to 14.7 maf. Factor in evaporation from reservoirs (1.5 maf per year) and our treaty obligation to Mexico (another 1.5 maf), and the math doesn’t favor a water-guzzling society.

Nonetheless, the states of the Lower Basin have been taking their allotment as if nothing were wrong and consequently overdrafting their account by up to 1.3 maf annually. At this rate, even under unrealistically favorable scenarios, the Lower Basin will eventually drain Lake Mead and cutbacks will begin, possibly as soon as in the next few years. And then things will get dicier because California, the water behemoth of the West, won’t have to absorb any of those cutbacks.

Here’s one of the screwiest quirks in western water law: to win Congressional approval for the building of a monumental aqueduct, the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which would bring Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona agreed to subordinate its Colorado River water rights to California’s. In that way, the $4 billion, 336-mile-long CAP was born, and for it Arizona paid a heavy price. The state obliged itself to absorb not just its own losses in a cutback situation, but California’s as well.

Worst case scenario: the CAP aqueduct, now a lifeline for millions, could become as dry as the desert it runs through, while California continues to bathe. Imagine Phoenix curling and cracking around the edges, while lawn sprinklers hiss in Malibu. The contrast will upset a lot of Arizonans.

Worse yet, the prospective schedule of cutbacks now in place for the coming bad times is too puny to save Lake Mead.

The Age of Thirst: Act II

While that Arizona-California relationship guarantees full employment for battalions of water lawyers, a far bigger problem looms: climate change. Models for the Southwest have been predicting a 4ºC (7.2ºF) increase in mean temperature by century’s end, and events seem to be outpacing the predictions.

We have already experienced close to 1º C of that increase, which accounts, at least in part, for last summer’s colossal fires and record-setting temperatures — and it’s now clear that we’re just getting started.

The simple rule of thumb for climate change is that wet places will get wetter and dry places drier. One reason the dry places will dry is that higher temperatures mean more evaporation. In other words, there will be ever less water in the rivers that keep the region’s cities (and much else) alive. Modeling already suggests that by mid-century surface stream-flow will decline by 10% to 30%.

Independent studies at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in California and the University of Colorado evaluated the viability of Lake Mead and eventually arrived at similar conclusions: after about 2026, the risk of “failure” at Lake Mead, according to a member of the Colorado group, “just skyrockets.” Failure in this context would mean water levels lower than the dam’s lowest intake, no water heading downstream, and the lake becoming a “dead pool.”

If — perhaps “when” is the more appropriate word — that happens, California’s Colorado River Aqueduct, which supplies water to Los Angeles, San Diego, and the All-American Canal, which sustains the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, will go just as dry as the Central Arizona Project aqueduct. Meanwhile, if climate change is affecting the Colorado River’s watershed that harshly, it will undoubtedly also be hitting the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The aptly named Lester Snow, a recent director of California’s Department of Water Resources, understood this. His future water planning assumed a 40% decline in runoff from the Sierras, which feeds the California Aqueduct. None of his contemplated scenarios were happy ones. The Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct make the urban conglomerations of southern California possible. If both fail at once, the result will be, as promised, the greatest water crisis in the history of civilization.

Only Patricia Mulroy has an endgame strategy for the demise of Lake Mead. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is, even now, tunneling under the lake to install the equivalent of a bathtub drain at close to its lowest point. At a cost of more than $800 million, it will drain the dregs of Lake Mead for Las Vegas.

Admittedly, water quality will be a problem, as the dead pool will concentrate pollutants. The good news, according to the standard joke among those who chronicle Sin City’s improbable history, is that the hard-partying residents and over-stimulated tourists who sip from Lake Mead’s last waters will no longer need to purchase anti-depressants. They’ll get all the Zoloft and Xanax they need from their tap water.

And only now do we arrive at the third act of this expanding tragedy.

The Age of Thirst: Act III

Those who believe in American exceptionalism hold that the historical patterns shaping the fate of other empires and nations don’t apply to the United States. Be that as it may, we are certainly on track to test whether the U.S. is similarly inoculated against the patterns of environmental history.

Because tree rings record growing conditions year by year, the people who study them have been able to reconstruct climate over very long spans of time. One of their biggest discoveries is that droughts more severe and far longer than anything known in recent centuries have occurred repeatedly in the American Southwest. The droughts of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, of the 1950s, and of the period from 1998 to 2004 are remembered in the region, yet none lasted a full decade.

By contrast, the drought that brought the civilization of the ancestral Puebloans, or Anasazi, centered at Chaco Canyon, to its knees in the twelfth century, by contrast, lasted more than 30 years. The one that finished off Mesa Verdean culture in the thirteenth century was similarly a “megadrought.”

Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona who played a major role in the Nobel-Prize-winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells me that the prospect of 130° F days in Phoenix worries him far less than the prospect of decades of acute dryness. “If anything is scary, the scariest is that we could trip across a transition into a megadrought.” He adds, “You can probably bet your house that, unless we do something about these greenhouse gas emissions, the megadroughts of the future are going to be a lot hotter than the ones of the past.”

Other scientists believe that the Southwest is already making the transition to a “new climatology,” a new normal that will at least bring to mind the aridity of the Dust Bowl years. Richard Seager of Columbia University, for instance, suggests that “the cycle of natural dry periods and wet periods will continue, but… around a mean that gets drier. So the depths — the dry parts of the naturally occurring droughts — will be drier than we’re used to, and the wet parts won’t be as wet.”

Drought affects people differently from other disasters. After something terrible happens — tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes — people regularly come together in memorable ways, rising above the things that divide them. In a drought, however, what is terrible is that nothing happens. By the time you know you’re in one, you’ve already had an extended opportunity to meditate on the shortcomings of your neighbors. You wait for what does not arrive. You thirst. You never experience the rush of compassion that helps you behave well. Drought brings out the worst in us.

After the Chacoan drought, corn-farming ancestral Puebloans still remained in the Four Corners area of the Southwest. They hung on, even if at lower population densities. After the Mesa Verdean drought, everybody left.

By the number of smashed crania and other broken bones in the ruins of the region’s beautiful stone villages, archaeologists judge that the aridifying world of the Mesa Verdeans was fatally afflicted by violence. Warfare and societal breakdown, evidently driven by the changing climate, helped end that culture.

So it matters what we do. Within the limits imposed by the environment, the history we make is contingent, not fated. But we are not exactly off to a good start in dealing with the challenges ahead. The problem of water consumption in the Southwest is remarkably similar to the problem of greenhouse gas pollution. First, people haggle to exhaustion over the need to take action; then, they haggle over inadequate and largely symbolic reductions. For a host of well-considered, eminently understandable, and ultimately erroneous reasons, inaction becomes the main achievement. For this drama, think Hamlet. Or if the lobbyists who argue for business as usual out west and in Congress spring to mind first, think Iago.

We know at least one big thing about how this particular tragedy will turn out: the so-called civilization of the Southwest will not survive the present century, not at its present scale anyway. The question yet to be answered is how much it will have to shrink, and at what cost. Stay tuned. It will be one of the greatest, if grimmest, shows on Earth.

William deBuys is the author of seven books, including the just published A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), and The Walk (an excerpt of which won a Pushcart Prize). He has long been involved in environmental affairs in the Southwest, including service as founding chairman of the Valles Caldera Trust, which administers the 87,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico.

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11/15/2011 The Guardian: Coal's dirty secret: it's dying

11/15/2011 The Guardian: Coal’s dirty secret: it’s dying: Protecting uneconomic jobs in a dying industry – coal mining in the UK – is not acceptable. But neither is abandoning workers to the dole, which is where green energy comes in. I spent half my childhood in Fife, surrounded by villages where abandoned coal mines has left nothing behind but unemployment. Walking to school, I remember seeing houses with all the windows smashed in and “scab” daubed in giant letters across the walls. The destruction of an industry is a terrible and traumatic event.

But the call from a right-wing think tank to exempt the UK coal industry from taxes on carbon could not be more wrong-headed. It is mounting a Canute-like stand against the tide, rather than swimming with it.

Carbon emissions have to be curbed to prevent climate chaos and in the UK this is legally binding. For the 6,000 coal workers in the UK, the solution is not to subsidise their jobs in a hopeless attempt to compete with Poland, China and elsewhere. The answer is to re-skill them for the industries of the future: clean, sustainable energy.

Tony Lodge, author of the Centre for Policy Studies report out next month, argues:

This collapse in the market for coal could come as new cleaner coal power stations are possibly under construction by the mid-2020s – or in sight of opening – but by the time they are commissioned the UK coal industry would have effectively ceased to exist.

UK mining still looks after a third of our coal demand, supplying 18.4m tonnes last year, and this is expected to hit 19m tonnes this year. This collapse would lead to Britain needing to import all of its coal demand … It would also lead to the loss of up to 6,000 coal sector jobs.

But the future of “clean” coal in the UK is far from clear. The proposal to build a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant at the coal-fired power station at Longannet has collapsed, due to cost. The smart money now appears to be on CCS partly cleaning up gas, not coal and not anytime soon.

Lodge’s second point – UK coal demand – is also moot. There are no respectable future energy scenarios in which coal use rises – none – and in any case British coal burns dirtier than most imports.

We should also look at where special pleading leads us: to failure. The “past masters” of special pleading are the energy intensive industries – think steel, cement, paper. They lobbied intensely to weaken the European Union’s emission’s trading scheme, and succeeded. As a result they are now reaping billions of Euros in windfalls, but has that protected jobs? No, Tata Steel, which is sucking almost €400m out of the ETS, announced it was sacking 1,500 workers in May.

There’s an unpleasant irony in the Centre for Policy Studies trying to save the UK coal industry: the think tank was founded by Margaret Thatcher who so unflinchingly destroyed its core in the 1980s. Today, protecting uneconomic jobs in a dying industry – coal mining in the UK – is not acceptable, but neither is abandoning those workers to the dole. But the clean, sustainable energy industry is growing in the UK and will need new, skilled staff.

The Chancellor George Osborne put £100m into Scottish renewable energy on 11 November. This was the first glimmer of hope for the green economy since Osborne did his best to trash it in his cynical party conference speech in October.

If the government truly commits to the green economy – in word and deed – then the Green investment bank will be allowed to borrow and drive investment, the Green deal will be allowed to meet the vast need for better energy efficiency and electricity market reform will do more than support nuclear power. And if that happens, there will be many more than 6,000 new jobs in sustainable, growing industries.

World has five years to avoid severe warming: International Energy Agency (IEA)

World has five years to avoid severe warming: IEA By Marlowe Hood: The world has just five years to avoid being trapped in a scenario of perilous climate change and extreme weather events, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Wednesday. On current trends, “rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change,” the IEA concluded in its annual World Energy Outlook report.

“The door to 2.0 C is closing,” it said, referring to the 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) cap on global warming widely accepted by scientists and governments as the ceiling for averting unmanageable climate damage.

Without further action, by 2017 the total CO2 emissions compatible with the 2.0 C goal will be “locked in” by power plants, factories and other carbon-emitting sources either built or planned, the IEA said.

Global infrastructure already accounts for more than 75 percent of that limit.

To meet energy needs while still averting climate catastrophe, governments must engineer a shift away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, the agency said bluntly.

“As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the ‘lock-in’ of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,” said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

The report outlines two scenarios for future energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.

A “new policies” scenario incorporates existing government promises into a projection up to 2035.

A “450 scenario” lays out a timetable for curbing carbon emissions so that atmospheric concentration of CO2 stays under 450 parts per million (ppm), roughly equivalent to the 2.0 C target.

The current level is about 390 ppm.

Even taking into account current commitments, CO2 emitted over the next 25 years will amount to three-quarters of the total emitted since 1900, leading to a 3.5 C (6.3 F) average increase in temperature since that date.

Business-as-usual emissions would put the world “on an even more dangerous track toward an increase of 6.0 C (10.8 F),” the report says.

Scientists who have modelled the impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and human settlement say a 6 C world would be close to unlivable due to violent extremes of drought, flooding, heatwaves and storms.

The planet’s average temperature has risen by about 1.0 C (1.8 F) over the last century, with forecasts for future warming ranging from an additional 1.0 C to 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100.

The report forecasts a one-third jump in primary energy demand by 2035, with 90 percent of this growth in developing economies.

Half of that demand will likely be met by increased use of coal, the most carbon-intensive of all major fossil fuels.

China — already the world’s top coal consumer — is on track to use nearly 70 percent more energy than the United States by that date, it says.

Even under the “new policies” scenario progress toward a low-carbon economy will be halting.

The share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls from around 81 percent today to 75 percent in 2035, while renewables increase from 13 percent of the mix today to 18 percent.

This scenario already assumes a huge boost in subsidies for renewables, from $64 billion today to $250 billion in 2035.

“One wonders how many more worrying figures the world needs,” commented Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate commissioner.

The report “shows that the world is heading for a fossil-fuel lock-in. This is another urgent call to move to a low-carbon economy,” she said in a statement.

Setting a global price on carbon, slashing fossil fuel subsidies, boosting renewable energy and energy efficiency and revised tax codes are all tools for achieving that end, she added.

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal Written by Osha Gray Davidson: Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman (CA) and Bobby Rush (IL) today called on Republican committee chairs to hold hearings on the full economic costs of coal-fired power plants. The key word here is, of course, full. Big Coal and its supporters in Congress often use the club of “expensive energy” to beat up on renewable sources such as solar power and wind. But, as Waxman and Rush state in their request letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), a new study “finds that the economic costs of air pollution from coal-fired … power plants outweigh the economic value these sources add to the economy.” The letter was also addressed to the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

The study, Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy, determined that economic damages caused by coal-fired power plants outweighed benefits by up to 5.6 times.

Coal-fired electrical generation only seems cheap because most of the costs don’t appear on the power bill. Instead, the full cost of coal is paid by ordinary Americans in increased health care and shortened life spans, by businesses in lost work days due to respiratory and heart-related illnesses, and by the agriculture industry in lower crop yields due to climate change.

The new study appears in the latest issue of the American Economic Review, and was co-authored by economists at Middlebury College and Yale University.

For more on the healthcare costs of coal-fired power plants, see the excellent 2010 study, The Toll From Coal, published by the Clean Air Task Force.

The True Cost of Coal

10/3/2011 World Habitat Day Focus: population growth, urbanization, climate change

10/3/2011 World Habitat Day: “This year, World Habitat Day falls during the month when demographers predict our planet’s seven billionth inhabitant will be born. The future that this child and its generation will inherit depends to a great degree on how we handle the competing pressures of growing population growth, urbanization and climate change.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message on World Habitat Day, 2011: In Resolution 40/202 of 17 December 1985, the UN General Assembly designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day. In 2011, World Habitat Day is commemorated on 3 October.

In 2011, the theme of World Habitat Day is Cities and Climate Change. The effects of urbanization and climate change are converging in dangerous ways. The results of this convergence threaten to have unprecedented negative impacts on quality of life, and economic and social stability.

However, alongside these threats is an equally compelling set of opportunities. Although urban areas, with their high concentration of population, industries and infrastructure, are likely to face the most severe impacts of climate change, urbanization will also offer many opportunities to develop cohesive mitigation and adaptation strategies to deal with climate change. The populations, enterprises and authorities of urban centres will be fundamental players in developing these strategies.

Source: Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011

Reuters: More Americans believe world is warming

Reuters: More Americans believe world is warming: by Timothy Gardner: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Thursday. The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12. Republican presidential candidates, aside from Jon Huntsman, have mostly blasted the idea that emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human actions are warming the planet. The current front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has accused scientists of manipulating climate data while Michele Bachmann has said climate change is a hoax.

As Americans watch Republicans debate the issue, they are forced to mull over what they think about global warming, said Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University.

And what they think is also influenced by reports this year that global temperatures in 2010 were tied with 2005 to be the warmest year since the 1880s.

“That is exactly the kind of situation that will provoke the public to think about the issue in a way that they haven’t before,” Krosnick said about news reports on the Republicans denying climate change science.

WEATHER DISASTERS

This year has been a record year for the kind of costly weather disasters — including Hurricane Irene, which raked the East Coast — that scientists have warned would be more frequent with climate change.

The United States suffered 10 natural disasters in 2011 with economic losses of $1 billion or more, according to the National Weather Service.

Unlike many other issues that divide Republicans and Democratic voters, such as healthcare or how to deal with the deficit and debt, a majority of Americans from both major parties agree on global warming, the poll found. Some 72 percent of Republicans believe global warming is happening and 92 percent of Democrats do, it found.

Global warming could be an important issue in next year’s election, because some 15 percent of voters see it as their primary concern, said Krosnick, who is also a university fellow at the Resources for the Future think tank.

If President Barack Obama, a Democrat, can define himself as the environmental candidate, he could have a large advantage over a Republican, Krosnick said. If however, a Republican softens his or her stance on climate and Obama, who has failed to pass a climate bill in his first term, moves more to the center, it may not be a factor in the election.

Some 71 percent of the Americans who believe warming is happening think that it is caused either partly or mostly by humans, while 27 percent believe its is the result of natural causes, the poll found.

While more Americans believe in global warming, the skeptics are becoming more entrenched in their belief that it is not happening. In 2010 the certainty of skeptics was 35 percent, while it was 53 percent in 2011. Again, the Republican climate skeptics are influencing that, Krosnick said.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,134 adults, including 932 registered voters, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points for all respondents and 3.1 points for registered voters.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Editing by Sandra Maler)

8/18/2011 Navajo Times: Peabody, tribe mum on lawsuit settlement

8/18/2011 Navajo Times: Peabody, tribe mum on lawsuit settlement by Marley Shebala: The settlement of the Navajo Nation’s $1.8 billion Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit against coal giant Peabody Energy and its partners Salt River Project and Southern California Edison was quietly announced by Peabody in a two-page statement posted on its Web site Aug. 4. The Navajo Nation was just as quiet in announcing the end of the largest damage suit in its history, although the settlement immediately grabbed national media attention.

Both the tribe and the defendants said the settlement ended a $600 million lawsuit, though the tribe had estimated total damages as high as $1.8 billion when it first filed the suit 12 years ago.

It took the Navajo Nation Council, which recently voted not to raise the royalty rate Peabody pays on Black Mesa coal, a week to issue its own one-page press release about the historic settlement.

It was a contrast to June 17, 1999, when the tribe held a press conference and issued several press releases a day after the lawsuit was filed in federal court.

Kelsey Begaye and Edward T. Begay, then Navajo Nation president and Council speaker, respectively, expressed their outrage over what they said was a conspiracy to rob the tribe of legitimate income from coal resources on Black Mesa.

The trigger was Peabody’s successful effort to prevent the Interior Department from supporting the tribe’s effort to raise royalty rates to 20 percent, nearly twice what the company considered acceptable.

“This lawsuit has been filed to right a serious wrong against the Navajo Nation and its people,” Begaye said. “The damage caused by Peabody’s influence peddling is staggering.

“Since 1984, the Navajo Nation has suffered losses of $600 million,” he said. “While the defendants reap huge and illicit profits using Navajo coal to generate electricity for homes and businesses in Southern California, Las Vegas and Arizona, thousands of Navajo homes are still without electricity.”

“We will not be cheated any longer,” Begay said. “Coal represents the Navajo Nation’s most valuable natural resource. This lawsuit will restore lost revenues to the Navajo Nation and place us on the road to achieve economic self- sufficiency for our people.

“We are not asking for a handout,” he added. “We are demanding to be compensated equitably by American corporations and treated fairly by the United States government.”

Friends again

The current leaders took a far different tone.