Planet Watch

BP battles Alaska oil spill

With all the global horrors in the headlines, this one barely grabbed any attention. Ironically, our attention is distracted precisely by the Middle East instability being used to justify the expansion of oil exploitation on Alaska's public lands. From MarketWatch, March 10:

BP Plc. said Friday it hoped to soon wrap up repairs to a leaking pipeline on Alaska's giant Prudhoe oil field that has already spilled over 200,000 gallons of crude, one of the biggest spills ever seen on the state's North Slope.

Canada asserts sovereignty over Northwest Passage; unsubtle message to Washington

Did anyone catch this one? The headline from Canada's Global National reads "Protecting Canada's Arctic sovereignty." Protecting it from whom? Well, it turns out Washington was peeved by Ottawa's highly symbolic dispatchal of armed icebreakers up to the Northwest Passage, because even token policing of these waters is an expression of at least the theoretical potential for denial of access to US nuclear submarines, which routinely violate Canadian sovereignty there. Canada has troops in Afghanistan (under NATO rubric), but has declined to join Washington's "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. This assertion of national rights over the passage is meant to send a message to the White House that Canada is not a mere political and military appendage of the US – and is, perhaps, now closer to "Old Europe" than to its largest trading partner, the hegemon to the south...

Greenland ice cap melting fast: satellite data

Readers will recall that this is the same James E. Hansen who was threatened with "dire consequences" from the Bush administration's ideological enforcers at NASA if he continued to call for action to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. From the UK Independent, Feb. 17:

Sweden: oil-free by 2020

A glimmer of hope from The Guardian, Feb. 8:

Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy
Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

US sidetracks Montreal climate talks

Brian Tokar reports for February's Z Magazine on the recently-concluded Montreal talks on global climate change, aimed at implementing the Kyoto agreement. What's really dangerous is that this agreement—which the Bush administration is refusing to join, of course—was already essentially gutted by pressure from the more insidious Clinton administration, which pushed through a program of free-market pseudo-solutions. So while Bush stands strong against Kyoto as an assault on American capitalism, what was largely discussed in Montreal was establishing guidelines for buying and selling the right to pollute...

NASA chief bucks White House on science suppression

The ongoing White House attempt to politicize science makes the front page of the New York Times. Now let's get this straight: Bush wants to go to Mars, but is so beholden to the anti-science religious right that he wants NASA to hedge on the Big Bang, always refering to it as a "theory." This contradiction could hold the seeds of the current administration's undoing. Corporate America may want to suppress science that indicates their fossil fuel products are destabilizing the Earth's climate, but they know they are going to need the very brightest and the best if they are going to realize their hubristic plans to exploit minerals on Mars. Meanwhile, big ups to Michael D. Griffin for bucking the administration's pressure. Maybe the revolt of the bureaucracy has begun...

2005: north hemisphere's warmest year on record

A question raised by scientists four months ago—whether 2005 would be the planet's warmest year on record—has now been answered: almost. From BBC News, Dec 15:

2005 warmest on record in north
This year has been the warmest on record in the Northern Hemisphere, say scientists in Britain. It is the second warmest globally since the 1860s, when reliable records began, they add.

Meanwhile, the frogs are dying...

So global warming is just a myth, eh? Somebody forgot to tell the frogs. From the Washington Post, Jan. 12:

Study: Global warming killing frog species
Rising temperatures are responsible for pushing dozens of frog species to extinction in the past three decades, according to new findings being reported today by a team of Latin American and U.S. scientists.

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