International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Blames Climate Change for Slow Economic Recovery

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At a news conference Monday in Washington D.C., the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagard, suggested climate change might be a factor in the U.S.’s slow economic recovery the past several years, and that it could make economic predictions more difficult in the future. Years of disappointing growth mean the economy might not reach full employment – which many economists say is when the unemployment rate is between 5 and 5.5 percent – for three more years, according to an Associated Press report on the IMF’s latest predictions.

In releasing the predictions, Lagard said: “extreme weather occurrences have repeated much more frequently in the past 20 years than the previous century,” she stressed. “That’s a reason to wonder about climate change and how to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, home state of former Senator Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day and was a presidential “Medal of Freedom” recipient in 1995, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved steps last week to allow a controversial Canadian tar sands crude oil pipeline expansion through Wisconsin closer to reality, according to a Wisconsin State Journal news report by Samara Kalk Derby. “The move immediately drew criticism from environmentalist”, said the report.

The crude bitumen contained in the Canadian oil sands is described by the National Energy Board of Canada as “a highly viscous mixture of hydrocarbons heavier than pentanes which, in its natural state, is not usually recoverable at a commercial rate through a well because it is too thick to flow.” Crude bitumen is a thick, sticky form of crude oil, so heavy and viscous (thick) that it will not flow unless heated or diluted with lighter hydrocarbons such as light crude oil or natural-gas condensate. At room temperature, it is much like cold molasses. Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil, due to the heating and energy required to process and transport the heavy crude.

The DNR approved an air construction permit for expanding crude oil storage capacity at a Superior oil terminal owned by Houston Based Enbridge Energy Company, and located on the shore of Lake Superior, despite receiving more than 200 written comments and about 3,400 emails from the public on the proposed action.

Lake Superior is the upper most of the 5 Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake by area in the world. According to a study by professors at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Lake Superior average water temperatures have increased by about 4.5 °F (2.5 °C) since 1979, compared with an approximately 2.7 °F (1.5 °C) increase in the surrounding average air temperature [Marshall, Jessica. (2007-05-30.) “Global warming is shrinking the Great Lakes.” New Scientist, via newscientist.com.]

The Sierra Club said the proposal triples the present capacity of the pipeline, creating the largest tar sands pipeline in the United States, according Kalk Derby’s report.

The DNR said it did environmental assessments for the pipeline companies projects in 2006 and in 2009. However, it did not do the more extensive “Environmental Impact Statement”, which requires a an a more detailed and in depth analysis as well as a series of public hearings, and which is required by the state Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act” of 1972 for all major projects “significantly affecting the quality of the environment”. The Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) is a state law designed to encourage environmentally sensitive decision-making by Wisconsin state agencies.

Gaylord Nelson: “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.” [Part of Earth Day speech, April 22, 1970 – 1st Earth Day]

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About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, School Crossing Guard; Green Bay Packer Fan; Wisconsin Badger Fan; Animal Lover; Humanitarian

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