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Environmental concerns

Important environmental news during 2013

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Media reports on the environment:

  • 2013-JAN to MAR: NY, DC: Newspapers make epic, life-endangering blunder: The editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post are alleged to have made the most irresponsible decision of the decade. They have both drastically cut back on their coverage of climate change. The New York Times dismantled its environment desk and has shut down its Green Blog. The Washington Post is switching its lead climate reporter, Juliet Eilperin, to another assignment. 1

    Curtis Brainard, editor of Columbia Journalism Review‘s "online critique of science and environment reporting," slammed the move by the Times he wrote:

    "This is terrible news, to say the least. When the Times announced in January that it was dismantling its three-year-old environment pod and reassigning its editors and reporters to other desks, managing editor Dean Baquet insisted that the outlet remained as committed as ever to covering the environment. Obviously, that was an outright lie.

    The Green blog was a crucial platform for stories that didn’t fit into the print edition’s already shrunken news hole—which is a lot on the energy and environment beat—and it was a place where reporters could add valuable to context and information to pieces that did make the paper….

    In an act of total cowardice, the Times clearly timed its announcement to avoid (for the weekend, at least) having to deal with what is sure to be widespread criticism. When I called the paper shortly after 5pm on Friday, I was informed that executive editor Jill Abramson, managing editor Dean Baquet, and corporate spokeswoman Eileen Murphy were all out of the office for the day….

    Those masthead editors should be ashamed of themselves. They’ve made a horrible decision that ensures the deterioration of the Times’s environmental coverage at a time when debates about climate change, energy, natural resources, and sustainability have never been more important to public welfare, and they’ve done so while keeping their staff in the dark. Readers deserve an explanation, but I can’t think of a single one that would justify this folly. 1

  • 2013-FEB-121: Pat Robertson ridiculed Princeton study on climate change: Pat Robertson, a leading fundamentalist Christian teleminister ridiculed a recent study at Princeton which showed strong scientific evidence that climate change would cause less snowfall overall in the future. However, there would be larger snow storms and blizzards as carbon dioxide rates rise over the next five decades. Robertson said on his 700 Club program:

    "Only in Princeton would people say nutty things like that. You know, they get to be Ph.D.s and they wonder where they’ve studied and learned all these things. But I tell you, if you’re a true believer, bad things will happen because you see them coming." 5

  • 2013-MAY-10: HI: Carbon dioxide level in atmosphere passes 400 parts per million: For the first time in at least 800,000 years, the concentration of carbon dioxide has exceeded 400 parts per million as measured at the Earth System Research Laboratory on on the side of the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island in Hawaii. This is where a NOAA laboratory has monitored the gas since 1958. Monitoring sites in the Arctic reached 400 PPM in 2012.

    Scientists are able to measure the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere as it existed many hundreds of thousands ago by examining bubbles of air trapped in ice.

    Carbon Dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gasses in terms of causing climate change. Much of it is generated by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas by humans. 2

  • 2013-JUN-08: U.S. & China: Presidents of the U.S. and China agree to work towards major reduction or elimination of hydrofluorocarbons: President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to wind down use of hydrofluororcarbons (HFCs) in the U.S. and China, and to work together to persuade other countries to follow the same path. HFCs are potent greenhouse gasses widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Without joint efforts to phase out the chemical, emissions of HFC could grow to the equivalent of 20% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. By the end of the century, eliminating HFCs could reduce the average worldwide temperature by 0.5º Celsius (0.9º Fahrenheit).

    John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress said:

    "This is a big deal. Obama deserves a lot of credit for this. He said he would tackle climate change, and this is really an important achievement." 3

  • 2013-JUN-10: Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy use rose by 1.4%: The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose by 1,4% to 31.6 gigatons in 2012. More than two thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the energy sector. The IEA said that if this continues, then we can expect a temperature rise of 5.3ºC or 9.5 ºF over pre-industrial levels. Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA said that this:

    "... would be a disaster for all countries. This puts us on a difficult and dangerous trajectory. If we don’t do anything between now and 2020, it will be very difficult because there will be a lot of carbon already in the atmosphere and the energy infrastructure will be locked in."

    Within the U.S., there was a 3.8% drop in energy-related emissions of which about half was due to the energy sector. The Washington Post said that the IEA recommends that countries and companies:

    "... implement aggressive energy-efficiency measures; limit the output of inefficient coal plants and mandate that all future coal plants be highly efficient supercritical ones; reduce the release of methane in oil and gas operations; and phase out fossil-fuel subsidies." 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Joe Romm, "In Epic Blunder, NY Times And Washington Post All But Abandon Specialized Climate Science Coverage," ClimateProgress, 2013-MAR-04, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  2. "Carbon dioxide passes symbolic mark," BBC News, 2013-MAY-10, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  3. Steven Mufson, "President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree to wind down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs," Washington Post, 2013-JUN-08, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  4. Steven Mufson, "Carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012, IEA report says," Washington Post, 2013-JUN-10, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  5. David Darkey, "Televangelist Pat Robertson Attributes New Climate Change Study to ‘Nutty’ PH.D.s," Democratic Underground, 2013-FEB-22, at: http://www.democraticunderground.com/

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Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-MAY-11
Latest update: 2013-JUN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson


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