Category Archives: Environment, Energy, Science

2016 Was The Hottest Year Yet, Scientists Declare

Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR, 1/16/17

Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you’re not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its annual State of the Climate report, which says it’s the hottest it has been since scientists started tracking global temperatures in 1880.

A separate analysis, by NASA scientists, came to the same conclusion.

The news comes as a confirmation hearing begins for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has ardently defended fossil fuels and fought against federal efforts to regulate greenhouse gases that warm the planet….

continue reading and follow links at NPR

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North America Finally Has Its First Offshore Wind Farm

by Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post, 11/3/16

OFF THE COAST OF RHODE ISLAND ― Frigid, briny winds whip tiny Block Island each autumn, stripping the ash trees of their leaves and driving home the hordes of vacationers who increase its population twentyfold during the summer.

This year, those gusts are also spinning the blades of five wind turbines that now tower 589 feet above the sea and power the homes of the island’s 1,000 year-round residents.

North America’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm, started operations last Wednesday and is expected to be in full swing by Thanksgiving. When it is running at full capacity, the farm will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes, or about 4 percent of all households in Rhode Island….

continue reading at Huffington Post

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Pipelines imperil our future, safety

Letter, Daily Local News, 10/18/16

Despite overwhelming evidence of a warming planet, our federal government has taken little action to address the root cause and places few impediments in the way of new large-scale investments in the very energy economy that would doom us. Not to be outdone, our Pennsylvania State Legislature has worked assiduously to block one of the few climate change initiatives to come out of the federal government: the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This is not surprising considering that 53 Pennsylvania state legislators “earned” literally a zero percent environmental rating on the 2016 PA Environmental Scorecard compiled by PA Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, PennEnvironment, and Clean Water Action.

Not only are our state legislators blocking the very modest EPA program to reduce emissions, they and our courts are moving us in the opposite direction by vesting for-profit corporations like Sunoco with the power of eminent domain, allowing dangerous pipelines to be foisted on landowners. It must be particularly upsetting to owners of seized land to learn that Sunoco plans to export most of the natural gas from the Mariner East 2 pipeline to Europe. Still more upsetting: pipeline corporations pay no property taxes on the land they seize and on average pay no more than 2.9% in total income taxes.

Exporting gas will mean more fracking and a need for even more pipelines. Continue reading

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Kennett Township officials urged to think green

By Matt Freeman, For Digital First Media, Daily Local News, 10/16/16

KENNETT TOWNSHIP >> The agenda for Kennett Township’s monthly meeting last night could arguably have been edited down to one line: the environmentalists’ maxim, “Think globally, act locally.”

Sierra Club representative Paula Kline told the supervisors that the organization was asking the nation’s municipalities to pledge to convert to entirely renewable energy sources by 2050.

Kline said the emissions from fossil fuels used by local governments contribute to the rising temperatures driving the global climate-change crisis. She mentioned the Paris Agreement a year ago, in which nearly 200 nations agreed to try to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms.

Business as usual, Kline said, would allow temperatures to rise almost six degrees. “What we understand as life on earth will be irrevocably changed,” she said. “It’s urgent and our time is limited.”

Flooding, drought, food scarcity and other effects of climate change will impose a burden on local governments, Kline said.

The steps Kline recommended were substituting renewable electricity sources for those derived from fossil fuels. Technology has improved to where this is a relatively easy thing to do, she said, although converting heating to all-renewable energy was more of a challenge.

Kline said she would be glad to provide information from the Sierra Club to help the supervisors in their future energy-use planning….

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