Author: Bob Berwyn

Adding insult to injury, U.S. taxpayers subsidize climate-disrupting fossil fuel industry with $7 billion per year

New report breaks down public cost of supporting oil and coal

fracking rig in Colorado
Oil, gas and coal development on public lands is a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The as-yet barely checked use of fossil fuels is rapidly disrupting the global climate and to add insult to injury, taxpayers around the world are supporting the damage with huge subsidies, as well as tax breaks and loopholes.

A new report from watchdog groups last week helps detail exactly how that plays out in the U.S., where the subsidies may total as much as $7 billion per year. Additionally, the U.S. government is holding about $35 billion in public liabilities for drilling in public waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading “Adding insult to injury, U.S. taxpayers subsidize climate-disrupting fossil fuel industry with $7 billion per year”

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Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985

New study projects impacts for world’s drylands

Hikers enjoying the view at Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction. Researchers say recreation economies in the world’s drier zones are likely to take a big hit from global warming in the next few decades. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is bad enough on its own for the world’s drylands, but when you add in the impacts of population growth, development and the increasing demand for water, the future looks downright grim.

The end result will be conditions that are detrimental to the recreation economy, wildlife habitat, water availability and other resources in hyper-arid landscapes, according to a recent paper published in Ecosphere. Drylands are of concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population. Continue reading “Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985”

Sunday set: Summer daze

Warm up, cool down …

With temperatures about to hit 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) for the first time tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to dust off a couple of summer pics from the Summit Voice archives. There’s plenty to worry about in terms of summer heat and global warming, as one of my recent stories for @PacificStand shows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a nice summer day or evening. The best way to cool off is total immersion, so when you start to feel the heat rise, head for the nearest neighborhood swimming hole and take the plunge. Failing that, find a shady spot at nearby pub and enjoy a cool drink, or hop on your bike and head for the country. Even with the sun glaring down, the cool breezes wafting across a field of grass and poppies will make you feel better. Visit the Summit Voice Sunday Set archive for more and check out our online gallery to see our collection of nature and landscape images.

Global warming means major changes for U.S. fisheries

Warming ocean will drive many commercially important species to new habitats; detailed projections can help  coastal communities adapt

Shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Climate change isn’t just heating the surface of the Earth. It’s also warming deep ocean water, and along the coast of the northeastern U.S. bottom-water temperatures are expected to increase by 6.6 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2100.

That means that commercially important marine species will also continue to shift northward, which is important information for fishermen trying to make living in the region. Just how much and when they will move is the subject of new research published this week in the journal Progress in Oceanography. Continue reading “Global warming means major changes for U.S. fisheries”

EPA takes Chrysler to court for cheating emissions tests

The EPA says Fiat Chrysler tried to cheat the EPA emissions standards with software tricks and defeat devices, just like VW.  @bberwyn photo.

EcoDiesel engines on Ram trucks and Jeep Cherokees at issue in civil suit

Staff Report

The EPA may not be beating the climate change drum any more, but it apparently still wants to hold automakers accountable for emissions scams. This week, the agency announced it’s filing a civil complaint against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, alleging that the company installed cheat software on almost 104,000 light duty diesel vehicles.

According to the EPA, the 3.0 liter EcoDiesel engines are equipped with software functions that were not disclosed to regulators during the certification application process, and that the vehicles contain defeat devices. The complaint alleges that the undisclosed software functions cause the vehicles’ emission control systems to perform less effectively during highway driving than on federal emission tests, resulting in increased emissions of harmful air pollutants.  Continue reading “EPA takes Chrysler to court for cheating emissions tests”

Bonn climate talks end on a hopeful note

We’ll always have Paris … @bberwyn photo.

Despite Trump, world moves toward renewable energy

By Bob Berwyn

The world committed to taking action on climate change in Paris, and now, all the countries that signed on to the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius are figuring exactly how that will happen, and how they will hold each other accountable.

U.S. climate policy is in question now, and the political changes definitely featured in the Bonn discussions, but didn’t dominate the proceedings. Some of the international climate negotiators recognized that the world is a dynamic place and that some national policies will come and go. But that won’t stop the world from moving ahead with ambitious climate plans. other experts discussed how the U.S. could hamper the global effort, while others said the U.S. should remain in the agreement, but not at any cost. For the sake of the rest of the world, the agreement should not be weakened. Read more in this report from Bonn.

Some of the most hopeful news from Bonn was that China and India are quickly shifting to a renewable energy economy. That will not only help those countries reduce their significant emissions, but will also drive a global shift by reducing the price for renewable energy to the point where it will quickly become the cheapest option. Even the U.S. reported a drop in greenhouse gas emissions the past few years, primarily because of the switch from coal to natural gas. American envoy Trigg Talley faced polite but insistent and pointed questioning during a disclosure session. Read the details in this story.

It all matters because for the less-developed countries in the global south, climate change is an existential question. There was concern about the Trump administration’s climate stance, but also optimism. Nobody wanted to make a final judgment on U.S. policy, which seems to still be in question, but nevertheless, some of the negotiators from the world’s most vulnerable countries seemed to be responding to Trump’s statements on the Paris climate agreement and on climate policies in general:

“Without increased climate action, no country can ever be great again. We fought hard for the Paris Agreement and the 1.5-degree threshold, the threshold for our survival…. Greatness is most apparent with climate action. Failure is not an option.”

Read more in this Pacific Standard story.

Sunday set: Landscape textures

Iceland revisited

Iceland is the kind of place where you could lose myself for a lifetime between the sea, sky and mountains, not to mention the soft, high-latitude light that sparks nature’s inner light, lending a glow to every scene. A few more galleries here.