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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Wind Farm Developer Opens in Broomfield

Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) was welcomed by U.S. Rep. Mark Udall and Colorado Senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard Sunday for their headquarters’ grand opening in Broomfield.  RES Americas is moving its headquarters from Austin, Texas, to Udall’s congressional district bringing dozens of high-paying renewable energy jobs to the state.  The wind farm developer says it plans to relocate 70 full-time jobs from Texas to Broomfield and to add 70 more Broomfield-based employees in the next year.  Operations in Broomfield began tomorrow.

More and more jobs are being created in Colorado by letting it be known that the state is friendly to the burgeoning industry.  This is good news for those who recognize our occupation of Iraq and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil unnecessarily weakens our national security.  Also, steps taken now to shift our energy portfolio from fossil fuels to renewables will keep future costs of doing so down.  It’s good for the planet, increases security here at home and is fiscally responsible.



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Katrina After-Effects: When Will It End?

From the AP:

Imagine that your home was reduced to mold-covered wood framing by Hurricane Katrina. Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government provided-trailer that gives off formaldehyde fumes you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector announces that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Seriously?  It could be.  In the “rush” to delver aid to those left homeless by the devastating hurricane in 2005, a private contractor may have given out too much money.  Now, they want to hire another firm to try to collect the overpayments.  Between 1,000 and 5,000 cases could fall under collection efforts.  That means up to $175 million would have to be paid back.

In the grand scheme of things, I find this ridiculous as a taxpayer.  The same bungling of the Katrina relief funds has been evident in lost sums of money going to other private contractors operating in Iraq.  Those sums total in the tens of billions of dollars.  Though the entities are certainly separate, I want to hear about collection efforts being initiated against corporations that have knowingly stolen money from my government.  Make no mistake, this is the type of government Republicans love: billions in welfare for corporations & hunting down money mistakenly given to people who lost everything.  Democrats won back a number of seats at all levels in 2006 as a result.  2008 will be no different.


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Catching Up: CO Legislature Update

I’ve been busy preparing for another work trip out of town. But things don’t stop happening. The next couple posts will be a collection of things that caught my eye.

CO Legislature & Bills Update

Plenty of things happening under the dome. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB08-1269, which would help reduce the threat of devastating wildfires in Colorado’s forests by providing incentives for products that use timber killed by the bark beetle infestation. The bill was sponsored by Senator Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne). I’ve detailed efforts to battle the mountain pine beetle in previous posts. Two solutions include treating the trees with insecticide and chopping up afflicted trees. It’s more expensive to cut down and chop up the trees. It might prove more hazardous to the long-term health of the ecosystem to use insecticide.

On Wednesday Governor Ritter signed HB08-1160 (more details here), which will expand homegrown energy opportunities for agricultural producers and rural communities statewide.

The science building at Auraria in Denver had funding renewed this week. Revenue from federal mining leases will be used to purchase Certificates of Participation in order to accelerate capital construction projects. The state is facing a backlog of projects as it continues to suffer under the effects of TABOR and other budgetary limitations, brought about by anti-investment zealots.

The CO House passed the 2008-2009 budget bill. If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, 55,000 more children will have health care and $63 million will be made available to Coloradans looking to go to college. Republicans thought those items, and more, weren’t a good idea and voted against the bill. By the way, the budget remains balanced under Democratic leadership.


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CAFE & Other Topic Roundup

Think Progress has a new feature: the Wonk Room. One item caught my attention: Grover Norquist said recently that 2,000 more people will die because of the recent change in CAFE standards. He was referring to a study done in 1993 that tried to establish a relation between vehicle weight and safety. Of course, the reality of crashes is more complex than Norquist was making it out to be. The real problem with our standards is they’re a fleet average and they’re too low. Cars sold in America can’t be sold in China because the Chinese have a more stringent fuel standard and it’s the minimum allowed. So US car manufacturers’ complaints that regulations might strangle them here will actually work to minimize overseas sales in the future. Way to look ahead.

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The rover Spirit on Mars has been given a reprieve: previously announced budget cuts may not affect the operations. The two rovers on Mars have revolutionized our understanding of the Red Planet. Their original 90 day expected life span have turned into four years of successful operations. All the billions being wasted in support of an occupation have so many other positive uses. Stay tuned.

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Found this: climate savers smart computing. Among other things, it includes what you can do to minimize the power your computer uses. After all, 50% of the power drawn is simply wasted.

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Deep Trunk had a write-up about Bob Schaffer’s non-involvement in the House while he was a Representative. Does Colorado want to replace do-nothing Allard with another guaranteed do-nothing Republican?

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Conservative chatter-boxes have been busy making wild exaggerations regarding Gov. Ritter’s New Energy Economy, saying that changing how decisions will be made will cause energy companies to leave the state in search of easier deals (prey). I never gave their statements much credence: the resources currently under the ground are far too large for them to simply pack up and go elsewhere. Turns out, the energy industry is not running away from Colorado.

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More disinformation about climate change in the corporate media. I’ll have more on this op-ed in the future.


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Antarctic Ice Shelf Calving

News just broke that 570 sq km of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has broken off (calved) since February.

This followed a 1000 sq km calving in 1998. The British Antarctic Survey group warned that very little that could stop the additional loss of thousands of square kilometers of the Shelf.

A few important notes and the relevance to Colorado follows.

Continue reading


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Random Pieces 3/25/08

The Denver Post issued a second editorial regarding the cut in funding for the science building at Auraria in Denver. They even correctly identify the real culprit behind Colorado’s budget woes: “Of course, the larger issue at work is the current tangle of constitutional spending restrictions that make the state budgetary process a convoluted exercise. This is another example of how worthy projects get shoved aside when revenues are projected to dip and mandated spending rules make a mockery of representational government.”

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I’m not really into college basketball. College hockey? That’s a different matter. DU, CC and Air Force all made it to the NCAA tournament. The bracket. The action moves to the Pepsi Center in Denver on April 10th and 12th for the Frozen Four.


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Random Pieces 3/24/08

Sounds responsible to me: “At this time, there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the development of oil shale. We continue to support the research, development and demonstration process now underway, but the RD&D process should be completed prior to the issuance of commercial oil shale leases and prior to the finalization of any regulations.” (Gov. Ritter’s press release regarding oil shale development.) In Republican-land, there will never be enough RD&D about climate change. Oil shale development? No RD&D or regulations needed.

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An Awful Toll

Clinton Ahlquist, Jeffrey Avery, Dace Balcon, Ryan Baum, Scott Brown, Duncan Crookston, Christopher DeGiovine, Dustin Gould, Joshua Hager, Alun Howells, Jason LaFleur, Wade Oglesby, Andrew Olmsted and Andrew Perkins. All of these military personnel were killing in Iraq since Jan. 1 2007. They are part of the group of 4,000 Americans killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq since hostilities began in 2003.

President Bush and the 30% of Americans who still support him talk about victory in Iraq.  What conditions characterize “victory”?  Because I don’t see how you can win an occupation.  Are there any conditions that Republicans can identify that would indicate to them it’s time to bring our troops back home?  If not, the troops wi’ll never achieve “victory”.  The Republicans’ intent is to keep American troops there forever.  Is that what Americans want?  November will tell us the answer.


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Climate Change Information Update

A few items were made available recently that provide additional information regarding global climate change.

In the last month, much has been made about the cooling recording in January. Delayers have used this data to claim that there is global cooling, not warming going on. If only they didn’t react to every single datum that came out, they might be able to build a coherent argument. But let’s stick with the data, shall we? Both NASA and the Hadley Center‘s analysis show that global temperatures in 2007 remained high: NASA listed 2007 as the second warmest on record, behind 2005, and the Hadley center listed 2007 as the seventh warmest. And before someone comes along and tries to argue that the difference in rankings prove something, both centers’ data show a difference of less than 0.5C between the first and tenth warmest year. The point is that 2007 was among the warmest in the last 100+ years.

Which brings us to January of this year. Embedded within the 2007 temperature data is the following: it was actually characterized by a strong La Nina event. La Nina is the cooler portion of ENSO. That’s right: global temperatures, even under the influence of a major ocean temperature cooling phenomenon, were still among the warmest recorded: almost as warm as the extreme El Nino event of 1998. By January, the La Nina event was in its mature stage. Here’s where the delayers’ argument comes in: January 2008 was much cooler than January 2007. Instead of a +0.632C anomaly in Jan. 2007, Jan. 2008 had a +0.037C anomaly.

Hmm, that’s interesting. Anomaly compared to what? Every dataset they’re examining uses mid-20th century data as a baseline, which is fine, or doesn’t consider the entire globe, which isn’t fine. Temperature data at the poles are critical for understanding what the global change of temperature is doing. This is especially true when one realizes that most of the temperature changes we’ve recorded have occurred in the polar regions. Most mid-latitude locations haven’t recorded the same magnitude of warming that the poles have (normalized differences are very large at the poles, thus you’ll rarely, if ever, see delayers use them as a data source).

So if 2007 was among the warmest years recorded and a strong La Nina developed during the year, what kind of temperature anomalies will we see during the next strong El Nino? And what lame excuse will delayers come up with to try to explain it away?

Continue reading


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Amy Oliver’s Global Warming Disinformation Campaign

Independence Institute Director of Operations and KFKA’s Amy Oliver was one of the latest personalities to continue the “sun is warming Earth, not humans” campaign. This approach has become a favorite of the Denyer/Delayer crowd, despite the fact that even President Bush has publicly recognized the reality of global climate change.

A nuance of this campaign has been to include Mars, yes Mars, in the planets being warmed by the sun. Any number of obvious items completely undermine this argument. For instance, denyers/delayers like to point out the lack of long-term, viable data here on Earth to support the concept that global warming is even occurring. Apparently, humans have a more robust temperature record on Mars than have on Earth.

But what happens if we take Oliver’s word (bear with me here) that the sun is indeed primarily responsible for Earth’s warming. Is the sun emitting more radiation or getting larger? Not according to any measuring/recording device (and we have many) available. But maybe Oliver has access to a dataset that is unknown to the scientific community.

So what is the sun doing? The sun has natural oscillatory activities that cycle every 11 years or so. We are currently in the minimum of that cycle, meaning the Earth is receiving a negligibly lesser amount of solar radiation and has been for the better part of a year or two. Recall from your schooling that Mars is further from the sun than the Earth is, so in addition to receiving less radiation at any point in time, at this point in the cycle, the amount of radiation reaching the planet is less than it was 6 years or so ago. But somehow, it’s warming.

No, Amy Oliver doesn’t know that the sun is the primary cause of warming on Earth or Mars. Her theory flies in the face of the work of thousands of research scientists’ results over the past 30-50 years. What Amy is doing is shilling for industry, as indicated by her commentary, “There are no SUVs to try and control. There’s no oil and gas exploration. There are no nasty coal-producing power plants on Mars. And it’s still warming. How did that happen? I’m serious; it is the sun, stupid.” And things become clearer: Amy and the Independence Institute continue to try to work over the public on the topic of control. Couched in the language of free-marketeers, her commentary sounds good on the surface, doesn’t it? Who wants anyone to”control” their SUVs? Or extractive industries?

Except the “free-market” really isn’t as free as Oliver and company sell it to be. Do you know why the oil and gas industry does so well (insane revenue and profits)? Do you know why the coal industry does as well as it does? Do you know why so many SUVs are sold? Because we’re all subsidizing their existence with corporate welfare. We as taxpayers, through legislation crafted at the behest of oil and gas and coal and car companies, give very handsome sums to giant corporations. That’s on top of the sweetheart tax breaks state and local governments give to those corporations to have the physical portions of their companies in our municipalities. Pile on the absence of business taxes and you see where things are going.

If there really was a free market, these corporations wouldn’t need billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing their operations. If their businesses were able to do so well all on their own, they wouldn’t need them. They could openly compete with other energy sources or vehicles. But they can’t, so their controllers don’t let other industries get past nascent stages of development. They’re a threat to the large corporations’ existence. And so Amy Oliver and the Independence Institute work day in and day out to continue pounding home the message that the bad, bad government shouldn’t interfere with their marketplace.

The free market is closed to competition. And global warming is a side casualty to Amy’s propaganda work to ensure the market stays closed. Her disinformation campaign is abhorrent. Where is the liberal media when you need it?

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