Archive | July 2015

Shell Oil Company Icebreaker Leaves Portland for Arctic after Wild Oil Drilling Protest

Activists hang from the St. Johns bridge in an effort to block the  Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica from leaving for Alaska in Portland, Ore., Thursday, July 30, 2015. The icebreaker, which is a vital part of Shell's exploration and spill-response plan off Alaska's northwest coast, stopped short of the hanging blockade, turned around and sailed back to a dock at the Port of Portland. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Activists hang from the St. Johns bridge in an effort to block the Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica from leaving for Alaska in Portland, Ore., Thursday, July 30, 2015. The icebreaker, which is a vital part of Shell’s exploration and spill-response plan off Alaska’s northwest coast, stopped short of the hanging blockade, turned around and sailed back to a dock at the Port of Portland. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker that was the target of environmental protesters left Portland, Oregon, on Thursday bound for an Arctic drilling operation after a tense standoff ended with kayakers and activists who had dangled from a bridge to block it.

The Fennica left dry dock and made its way down the Willamette River toward the Pacific Ocean soon after authorities forced the demonstrators from the river and the St. Johns Bridge.

Several protesters in kayaks moved toward the center of the river as the ship began its trip, but authorities in boats and personal watercraft cleared a narrow pathway for the Fennica.

The Fennica arrived in Portland for repairs last week. It attempted to leave earlier Thursday but turned around when activists dangling from the bridge refused to let it pass.

The icebreaker is a key part of Shell’s exploration and spill-response plan off Alaska’s northwest coast. It protects Shell’s fleet from ice and carries equipment that can stop gushing oil.

Authorities moved in hours after a federal judge in Alaska ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a fine of $2,500 for every hour that protesters dangled from the bridge to block the ship.

In May, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason granted Shell’s request that activists protesting its Arctic drilling plans be ordered to stay away from company vessels and beyond buffer zones.

At the court hearing Thursday in Anchorage, Gleason said the hourly fine against Greenpeace would increase over the next few days unless the blockade was lifted. It would have jumped to $5,000 an hour Friday, $7,500 an hour Saturday, and $10,000 an hour Sunday.

The Fennica was damaged earlier this month in the Aleutian Islands when it struck an underwater obstruction, tearing a gash in its hull.

Environmentalists hoped to delay the ship long enough for winter weather to prevent Shell from drilling until 2016. By that time, they hoped the Obama administration would have a change of heart on the issue.

Protesters began their blockade Wednesday. Several environmental groups joined Greenpeace’s effort. On Thursday, activists in about 50 kayaks milled beneath the bridge as other protesters dangled from ropes above.

One of the kayak protesters, Leah Rothlein, borrowed her mother’s kayak and headed onto the river.

“It’s pretty cool,” the 26-year-old said after coming ashore. “I was in the water for four hours.”

A crowd of a few hundred people watched from the shore and from a wooden dock as authorities began to move against protesters on the water and dangling from the ropes.

From AP story by Steven Dubois and Dan Joling 7/31/2015.
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Missing in Action: Governor Scott Walker at National Governor’s Summer Meeting

Genie-wrath (1)
It’s not that difficult figuring out why presidential candidate Scott Walker chose to opt out of attending the National Governor Summer meet Thursday through Saturday In West Virginia. Costs and controversies surrounding attempts to combat global warming are among topics the nation’s governors plan to tackle when they gather this week.

But because Walker believes 97% of scientists publishing papers on this subject are wrong, and he says human activity has no impact on the climate, he has little reason to attend this meeting.

This timely and urgently needed conference comes also as states grapple with issues that defy easy answers. Those include long-range funding for infrastructure upgrades, the effects of prolonged drought, and adequately funding public schools and colleges, to name a few.

It is likely that should Scott Walker become the next U.S. president, he will have to change his toon as the results of even worse global warming will already be upon us. We ought not wait for the next election to take massive actions and provide positive financial incentives to residents who cause limited or no amounts of contributions (greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere) to this potentially very real calamity. See “About This Blog” for one approach.

Who’s Gonna Stand Up and Save the Earth – Neil Young

tarsandsmine
Originally published on Sep 27, 2014, as requested by Neil himself. More than one version. “Please feel free to create any video of “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” u wish. Use social media to spread the word. – NY”

The above photo is of the Alberta, Canada area which was once boreal forest but was converted into a tar sands mine.

The Koch Brothers are the main owners. A Koch Industries subsidiary holds leases on 1.1 million acres in the northern Alberta oil sands, an area nearly the size of Delaware. The Washington Post confirmed the group’s findings with Alberta Energy, the provincial government’s ministry of energy. Koch Industries has been involved with almost every aspect of the tar sands industry, from mining bitumen to transportation, exportation, distribution and, of course, refining the petrochemicals — a large part of their empire.

Koch Industries is “one of Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers, and exporters, with more than 130 crude oil customers,” and is also responsible for about 25 percent of oil sands crude imports into the U.S., for use at its refineries, according to a Post article by Ari Philips, March 20, 2014.
Koch Industries on a net acreage basis is the largest American and foreign holder of leases in Canada’s oil sands.

The Enbrige owned pipeline cuts diagonally across Wisconsin from Superior to the border with Illinois The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved its permit to triple the volume pumped through the current 42 inch pipeline to 1.1 million barrels (42-gallons) per day. Dane County added a condition to placing a pumping station on the Dane County that they appropriately insure the project in case of a spill like the one that occurred in 2012 in Kalamazoo, Michigan part but Wisconsin state legislators nullified that with language prohibiting local action. The Wisconsin DNR determined there was no significant environmental impacts warranting a public review and Environmental Impact Statement EIS.
borealforest
Boreal Forest

Movement to Require GMO Labeling Dealt a Blow in U.S. House of Representatives

GMO

The GMO-labeling movement was dealt a major blow last week when Congress passed HR 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), prohibits states from mandating labels on products with genetically modified ingredients and creates a voluntary certification system at the USDA.

Forty-five Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Voting “yes” to the bill were Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Glen Grothman, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble. Voting “no” were Mark Pocan, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore.

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NASA Captures “EPIC” Earth Image

EARTH
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.

This color image of Earth was taken by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope. The image was generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image. The camera takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.

The image was taken July 6, 2015, showing North and Central America. The central turquoise areas are shallow seas around the Caribbean islands. This Earth image shows the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the image a characteristic bluish tint. Once the instrument begins regular data acquisition, EPIC will provide a daily series of Earth images allowing for the first time study of daily variations over the entire globe. These images, available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired, will be posted to a dedicated web page by September 2015.

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

June 2015’s Global Average Temperature Highest in 136 Year Record, Breaking Previous Record High Temperature Record of June 2014

NOAA
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2015 was the highest for June in the 136-year period of record, at 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F), surpassing the previous record set just one year ago by 0.12°C (0.22°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly departure from average for any month on record. The two highest monthly departures from average occurred earlier this year in February and March, both at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average for their respective months, while January 2007 had the third highest, at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above its monthly average.

June 2015 also marks the fourth month this year that has broken its monthly temperature record, along with February, March, and May. The other months of 2015 were not far behind: January was second warmest for its respective month and April was third warmest. These six warm months combined with the previous six months (four of which were also record warm) to make the period July 2014–June 2015 the warmest 12-month period in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record set just last month (June 2014–May 2015). As shown in the table below, the 10 warmest 12-month periods have all been marked in the past 10 months.

This report follows earlier reports that last year global average temperatures were also the highest since the U.S. National Weather Service began recording temperature data on the planet.

Dew point temperature, which is the temperature of the air when the air is holding the maximum amount of water vapor it can hold, is used commonly by weather forecasters as a measure of how humid the air around us will “feel”. Humans are sensitive to changes in humidity in the air because our skin uses the air around us to get rid of moisture in the form of sweat; the evaporation of water uses heat energy thus ridding of the perspiration creates a cooling effect on the skin. If the relative humidity is very high, the air is already saturated with water vapor (at the dew point temperature) and the perspiration won’t evaporate. When this happens, we feel hotter than the actual temperature.

Dew point temperatures throughout the Midwest over the last century climbed steadily, according to a report by Jesse H. Wartman reported higher dew point temperatures (the maximum amount of water vapor (another greenhouse gas) that the air at any one place can hold) “I analyzed dew-point temperatures from the U.S. Upper Midwest over the period 1961-2005. Results show a significant increase in the past 44 years in the cities of Sioux Falls, Minneapolis, Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis. The tendencies are apparent in monthly, seasonal and yearly averaged trends. Not only were the dew-point temperatures observed to be increasing, the number of extremely high dew points per year was observed to be increasing as well.”

Source: NOAA

10 Feet of Global Sea Level Rise Is Now Guaranteed

NYC
At least 10 feet of sea level rise is now guaranteed worldwide; it’s all but inevitable, a done deal. An ice sheet two miles thick has collapsed in West Antarctica. Glaciologists have been dreading this moment for decades, though in recent years, it was more of a question of when than if—and there is nothing that can stop it from melting now. Read more about it.

A new study finds that even if we slow rising temperatures now, we could still be in for higher seas.