Via Joe Romm, two new scientific studies reaffirm the infamous hockey stick graph.
Yesterday, NPR's Richard Harris had an important Gulf scoop—the oil spill may be much, much larger than both BP and the U.S. government have been saying. Here's Brad Johnson's follow-up: Based on “sophisticated scientific analysis of seafloor video made available Wednesday,” Steve Wereley, an associate professor at Purdue University, told NPR the actual spill rate of the BP oil disaster is about 3 million gallons a day — 15 times the official guess of BP and the federal government.
Let's get some good news for a change. I've written before that the climate bills in Congress could stand to be a lot more ambitious, and the reason is that U.S. emissions are already plunging at a fairly rapid clip. Case in point: The Energy Information Administration just put out a new report finding that CO2 emissions in the United States from energy sources—that is, excluding cow belches and landfills and whatnot—are now down 10 percent from 2005 levels. Is that all due to the economic slump? Nope. Only about one-third of the drop is from the recession. Another third is due to the U.S.
This is a tale of two bills—a tale that illuminates how policy-making may unfold under the most progressive administration, and the most Democratic Congress, in a generation. And it’s not a tale with an especially happy ending. The target of both bills is carbon. From early on, President Obama has indicated that climate and energy legislation would come second in his administrative batting order, only after health care reform. (Originally, he thought that would mean last fall, but health care was like a hitter who fouled off pitch after pitch.
A new study about how methane stores in the Arctic seabed are "destabilizing and venting" is getting a lot of attention. Here's a write-up from the Times: Climate scientists have long warned that global warming could unlock vast stores of the greenhouse gas methane that are frozen into the Arctic permafrost, setting off potentially significant increases in global warming.
Here's a handy animated map from NOAA showing all the places on the planet where it's unseasonably warm and unseasonably cool right now. Curiously, the freak cold seems to be occurring everywhere major media centers are located—the northeastern United States, Europe, Japan—so the chilly weather's grabbing all the headlines. But it's anomalously warm just about everywhere else in the world, especially the Arctic. (For more on the overall trends, see Joe Romm's post.) Oh, there's one other big exception: It seems to be anomalously cold in Antarctica right now.
Nukes, nukes, and … nukes. These days, when it comes to energy and climate change, that seems to be all Republicans want to talk about. Throughout last week's hearings on the Senate climate bill, Lamar Alexander kept interjecting that a massive ramp-up of nuclear power was the only real solution to global warming, bringing up the subject at every turn. For many of his colleagues, it's one of the few energy ideas that piques any interest at all.
All told, the draft Senate climate bill that John Kerry and Barbara Boxer unveiled today looks awfully similar to the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House back in June. Everything you've read about that earlier bill, griping and cheering alike, basically still applies. Plus, lots will change as this bill shimmies its way through at least five different Senate committees, so there's no use pretending this is a final product or anything.
Joe Romm is testifying before the Senate EPW today and has a nice, concise statement on nuclear power that's worth reading. (It's based on a longer report that he wrote for the Center for American Progress here.) Romm's less-controversial point—or at least it shouldn't be controversial, though I imagine it won't be popular—is that, at the moment, nuclear power is still far more expensive than a lot of the other alternatives to fossil fuels. American Electric Power CEO Michael Morris, for one, has given up on the economics of new nuclear plants and is getting out of the business for now.