Round Up: Summer Reading for Earthkeepers

  1. Congress protects dirtiest power at DC plant: Two miles from the White House stands the Capitol Power Plant, the largest single source of carbon emissions in the nation’s capital. The plant, which powers the sprawling Capitol campus — 23 buildings that include Congress, and the Supreme Court — is operated by Congress, which killed a move away from coal in 2000, and defunded a Green-the-Capitol plan in 2011.
  2. Bumps in the road on the way to climate adaptation: Gadam, a fast-maturing, drought-tolerant sorghum variety introduced in Kenya as a solution for farmers trying to adapt to changing climate conditions, turns out to have an unexpected drawback – wild birds are eating it just before it can be harvested. For hungry Kenyans, this is more than just an unfortunate setback. Messing with the creation is perilous business.
  3. Kansas and Al Qaeda: Tom Friedman looks at two surprisingly linked movements, both fueled by oil: the U.S. Midwest big-Ag farm monoculture, threatening the survival of the U.S. grain belt; and the Middle East religious monoculture, threatening the future of Arab societies. Diversity is the solution proposed for both.
  4. Why are the manatees and dolphins dying? Florida’s Indian River estuary, one of the richest marine ecosystems in the continental United States, is the scene of a murder mystery: 280 manatees, scores of dolphins and hundreds of pelicans dead this year. Researchers suspect pollution, killing sea grasses and feeding algae explosion.
  5. NOAA chief calls record-breaking 2012 climate “new normal:” Warmest year ever for U.S.; Arctic sea ice at record lows; highest-ever sea levels; record high CO2 emissions – NOA report warns that this is now normal for our world.
  6. Habitat for Humanity builds “zero-carbon” houses in DC:  Solar power and efficiency measures for the rest of us – sustainable housing made affordable drives new Habitat homes.
  7. Alberta tar sands spilled 280,000 gallons this summer: The oil company calls it “seepage.” Environmentalists describe it as a “blow out.” Either way, the leak at the oil sands project in Northern Alberta is stoking the controversy over the energy source.
  8. Arctic methane pulse debated by scientists: Rising temperatures in the Arctic Ocean could see 50 billion tons of methane that’s currently frozen in the seabed released into the atmosphere, a comment piece published in the journal Nature argues. But the scenario is unlikely, other scientists say.
  9. GOP guts energy research spending: House bill cuts energy research budget by 81 percent. Andrew Revkin asks George Will to speak up to his political allies and support science.
  10. James Hansen pushes nuclear energy as climate solution: Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places. But the U.S., China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny…. I think the only hope we have is … to have to have alternatives and at this time nuclear seems to be the best candidate.
  11. Louisiana Agency Sues Energy Companies for Damage to Wetlands: “This protective buffer took 6,000 years to form,” said a state board. “It has been brought to the brink of destruction over the course of a single human lifetime.”
  12. After wildfire, talk of global warming still delicate: Scientists agree that climate change was very likely one of the underlying triggers for the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters. But much of the media won’t touch it. The ethical question: Amid loss of life in weather disasters, when is it appropriate to speak of climate change?
  13. New York streets now flood with the tide: One recent Sunday, saltwater poured off Jamaica Bay onto West 12th Road in New York City. Tidal flooding occurs about twice a month in the neighborhood. Residents bolted out of their front doors to move their cars…. Some older residents were all but imprisoned in their homes until as much as three feet of water receded. Children splashed around, oblivious to the looming threat.
  14. A vote for a carbon tax: Mark Bittman (Omnivores Dilemma) urges prompt climate action. Respondent proposes revenue-neutral carbon tax as a nonpartisan means of making this happen.
  15. China goes capitalist to cut pollution: More than a million Chinese die prematurely each year from breathing its dirty air; warming temperatures portend rising sea levels and disruptions to food production. So the Communist country is borrowing a capitalist approach to address the problem: market incentives – cap and trade – to reduce emissions.

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