The Common Good

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Religious Belief In Second Coming Of Christ Could Slow Global Warming Action

A study published May 1 from two researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado found the widespread belief in "end-times" and the "Second Coming" of Christ could negatively impact the environmental policy movement. The Huffington Post reports:

A belief in the Second Coming reduces the probability of strongly agreeing that the government should take action by more than 12 percent. In a corresponding manner, a belief in the Second Coming increases the probability of disagreeing with government action to curb global warming by more than 10 percent.

Read more here.

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Climate Change May Bring Drought to Temperate Areas

A NASA led study found climate change may increase rainfall in some areas and drought in other areas. The study predicts for every 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in global average temperature, heavy rainfall will increase globally by 3.9%. The Los Angeles Times reports.

"These results in many ways are the worst of all possible worlds," said Peter Gleick, a climatologist and water expert who is president of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland research organization. "Wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier."

Read more here.

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Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in West

The expansion of hydrofracking could strain water resources from Forth Worth to western Colorado. The New York Times reports:

“Given projected sharp increases” in the production of oil and gas by the technique commonly known as fracking, the report from the group Ceres said, “and the intense nature of local water demands, competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policy makers and investors.”

One option is to recycle the water used in hyrdofracking. However the water may contain chemicals, natural pollutants, or ever radioactivity and it is expensive to clean the water. Some companies are expanding their use of brackish, undrinkable water unstead of fresh water to lessen their environmental impact. 

Read more here.

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General Motors Calls on Washington to Work Together on Climate Change

General Motors signed the Climate Declaration. The statement is part of a new initiative by businesses for greater action on global warming in Washignton. No specific recommendations are made in the declaration. The Guardian reports:

"We want to be a change agent in the auto industry," Mike Robinson, GM vice-president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

Other endorsers of the Climate Declaration include eBay, Ceres, Starbucks, and Unilever.

The short statement, endorsed by GM, leads off: "Tacking climate change is America's greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century (and it's simply the right thing to do)."

 Read more here.

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Earth's Greenhouse Gas Levels Approach Milestone

The ratio of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is approaching with 400 parts per million. This amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has not been seen since about 2.5 million to 5 million year ago. Scientists are alarmed that CO2 levels are rising in places far from pollution sources. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"The 400-ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to support clean-energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it's too late for our children and grandchildren," said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher who is a longtime member of the Scripps CO2 Group.

Read more here.

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Ocean Temperatures Highest in 150 Years Last Year

The Sea-surface temperatures were the highest measured in 150 years in 2012. USA Today reports:

"The average temperature in that area hit a record high of 57.2 degrees last year. The previous record was set in 1951, according to NOAA."

The rise in temperature could influence fish and shellfish on the Northeast shell.

Read more here.

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Obama Stalls After Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

One day after making climate change a key issue in his inaurugal address President Obama has decided to put off on decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline until April. The issue was thrust to the front of the agenda today when the governor of Nebraska approved the pipeline. The ultimate fate of the project is in Obama's hands. The Guardian reports:

Republicans immediately pushed Obama to approve the pipeline. "There is no bureaucratic excuse, hurdle or catch President Obama can use to delay this project any further," John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said in a statement. "He and he alone stands in the way of tens of thousands of new jobs and energy security."

Campaigners against the pipeline said Obama should immediately shut down the project. "Approving Keystone XL would make a mockery of the commitment he made at the inauguration to take action on climate change," said 350.org, which has led opposition to the pipeline.

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Drought, Heat Trigger Pre-Wildfire Season Jitters

A rare winter fire in Colorado's Rocky Mountains is fueling fears the 2013 wildfire season will be longer and more intense. Unusually high temperatures and wide spread droughts have contributed to the increase in wildfires. USA Today reports:

"The wildfire season's length and intensity is driven largely by how much snow and rain falls each winter and spring. Heavy, wet snows tend to delay the season by keeping the ground, grasses and trees wet. Even the weight of snow plays a factor in some fires: Tall grasses that haven't been squashed down like normal carry fires faster and hotter.

Put another way: It hasn't snowed or rained much and forecasters say it doesn't look likely to get any better."

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Obama Brings God Into the Climate-Change Fight

During his second inaugural address, President Obama reframed protecting the environment as a command from God. Slate reports this reframing “transcends not only partisanship but the divide between those who believe in science and those who doubt science but believe in God.” Obama said:

"The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

 

 

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Wind energy tax-credit extension part of 'cliff' deal

The fiscal cliff deal passed Tuesday included an one-year extension of a tax credit for the wind industry. The tax credit has encouraged investment in wind energy for the past two decades. USA Today reports:

[The tax credit extension] would allow any project that begins construction in 2013 to claim the credit, even if it goes online in 2014, according to industry insiders. The tax credit that expired Monday could be claimed only for projects that were up and running in 2012.

Read more here.

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Rig Runs Aground in Alaska, Reviving Fears About Arctic Drilling

An offshore drilling rig owned by Shell is beached on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. The rig could cause environmental damage if fuel begins to leak. The New York Times reports:

The rig, the Kulluk, broke free from a tow ship in stormy seas and ran aground Monday night. The Coast Guard was leading an effort to keep its more than 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel and lubricants from spilling onto the rocky shoreline.

Read more here.

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Religion and the Reality of Climate Change

 

The religious implications of climate change are becoming evermore clear, as the topic makes its way into mainstream America. 

The Huffington Post reports:

Indeed, what role do religion and theology play in the accelerating conversation about climate change? This has been a banner year for extreme weather events -- from severe drought in the American Midwest to the wildfire siege in Colorado to the "Frankenstorm" of Hurricane Sandy fueled by a warming Atlantic Ocean -- which have helped the reality of climate change to register on the consciousness of most people.

Read more here.

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Religion and the Reality of Climate Change

The Huffington Post reports:

In the holiday season, many of us reflect on what it is for which we are thankful. Naturally, we give thanks when things are going well, and even in a disaster we might be grateful that the catastrophe was not worse or that people stepped forward to render assistance. Claudius's poem presupposes a general climatic stability that for several centuries has been conducive to thankful worship.

But how does this optimistic hymn play in the era of radical climate change? How will it sound in the future, when each decade may bring yet more frequent and extreme climate events? What is the providential reading of "God's almighty hand" in a prolonged and life-threatening drought, or in the agrarian disaster of a dust bowl? When we are battered by a Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, how do we understand the majestic line about God in the Navy hymn, "Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep?"

Read more here.

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California to Polluters: Go Green or Pay Up

Mother Jones reports:

"Cap and trade" may be a dirty expression inside the DC Beltway, but as of today in California it's the law of the land. Gov. Jerry Brown has brushed aside dire warnings from the fossil fuel industry to forge ahead with the state's first-ever auction of emissions permits under its groundbreaking climate law, AB 32. This morning's auction marks the official launch of the world's second-largest carbon market.

At heart, the concept is elegantly simple. Suppose you wanted to persuade a group of 10 pack-a-day smokers to cut back, and you controlled the cigarette supply. In the beginning, you'd provide the group with 200 cigarettes (10 packs) a day, which they'd have to bid for. That's the "cap." Then, each month, you would reduce each person's daily allottment of smokes, gradually lowering the cap. The people who managed to smoke less could sell their extras to the more hard-core smokers for whatever they were willing to pay. That's the "trade" part.

Read more here.

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America's New Mandate on Climate Change

The Guardian reports:

For Americans concerned about the environment, disaster was avoided on Tuesday. President Obama – with his somewhat lackluster record, if decidedly more exalted rhetoric, on global warming – defeated the Republican challenger who had vowed to gut federal emissions standards, and kill loan programs and tax breaks for green energy companies.

But activists say that it would be wrong to read the election as a stamp of approval for four more years of business as usual. They argue that voters have sent a clear signal that they want more aggressive action on the environment during the president's second term.

Read more here.

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