Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , ,

Tell it to the judge, Big Oil

Jason Mark, THE NATION

Polluters admit climate-change basics in an unprecedented court hearing but still duck responsibility.

n Wednesday morning, Jim Hyden woke up well before dawn, braved a spitting rain, and skipped a day at work so he could arrive at the Federal District Courthouse in San Francisco at 6 am sharp to have “a chance to see some history.”

“I’m very interested in hearing the oil companies talk in court…about what they knew and when they it about climate change,” Hyden said as he waited in line with dozens of attorneys, reporters, and concerned citizens for an unprecedented court-ordered “climate-change tutorial” to begin. “And [to hear] what they did after they learned about it.”

It will be up to historians to decide whether the five-hour-long climate-science seminar that took place yesterday in federal court made history. During the weeks leading up to the hearing, boosters had promised “the Scopes Monkey Trial for climate change,” a unique chance to litigate the science of human-driven global warming in a court of law. In the end, there were no Clarence Darrow-like rhetorical fireworks; just scientists and attorneys dispassionately reviewing the evidence about how human activities are transforming Earth’s atmosphere.

This article is co-published by The Nation and Sierra.

Yet the hearing still marked an important milestone: For the first time, some of the world’s biggest carbon polluters were forced to explain to a US court whether they accept basic climate change science. Billions of dollars are at stake. The proceedings in San Francisco, according to legal experts, could shape the legal terrain for the lawsuits New York City and other plaintiffs are bringing against ExxonMobil and other fossil-fuel giants for the damage climate-fueled storms, sea-level rise, and other impacts have caused and will continue to cause in years to come.

“You can’t get away with sitting there in silence,” Judge William Alsup pointedly said to attorneys from ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, and other fossil-fuel corporations at the close of the day. “If you disagree [about the information the court had just heard], you need to let me know. Otherwise, I will deem that you agree.”

Read more at https://www.thenation.com/article/tell-it-to-the-judge-big-oil/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Habitats, Land Use, Local Organizations, Water, WildlifeTags , , ,

Dr. Lisa Micheli of Pepperwood Preserve earns Bay Nature Environmental Hero of the Year

Nate Seltenrich, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

Perched on a ridgeline in the Mayacamas Mountains northeast of Santa Rosa, Pepperwood Preserve spans 3,200 acres, protecting the headwaters of three watersheds that feed the Russian River and offering refuge to more than 900 species of native plants and animals. President and CEO Lisa Micheli, who took the helm at Pepperwood in 2009, has led the private preserve’s transformation into “a field station of global significance” recognized by the National Science Foundation. More than a dozen research projects—studying anything from climate change and hydrology to grasslands and phenology—are underway at Pepperwood at any given time, while the preserve and its 9,400-square-foot Dwight Center for Conservation Science also serves as a lab and nature-education center for students and citizen scientists of all ages.

Research, teaching, and outreach have come together at the preserve under Micheli, who holds a civil engineering master’s in Environmental Water Resources and a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, both from UC Berkeley. In recognition of Pepperwood’s commitment to world-class science, environmental education, and community involvement, Micheli has been named Bay Nature’s 2018 Local Hero for Environmental Education.

Read the interview with Dr. Micheli at https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/dr-lisa-micheli-of-pepperwood-preserve-earns-bay-nature-environmental-hero-of-the-year

Posted on Categories Habitats, Local OrganizationsTags ,

2018 Environmental Education Local Hero: Lisa Micheli

Nate Seltenrich, BAY NATURE

Perched on a ridgeline in the Mayacamas Mountains northeast of Santa Rosa, Pepperwood Preserve spans 3,200 acres, protecting the headwaters of three watersheds that feed the Russian River and offering refuge to more than 900 species of native plants and animals. President and CEO Lisa Micheli, who took the helm at Pepperwood in 2009, has led the private preserve’s transformation into “a field station of global significance” recognized by the National Science Foundation. More than a dozen research projects—studying anything from climate change and hydrology to grasslands and phenology—are underway at Pepperwood at any given time, while the preserve and its 9,400-square-foot Dwight Center for Conservation Science also serves as a lab and nature-education center for students and citizen scientists of all ages.

Research, teaching, and outreach have come together at the preserve under Micheli, who holds a civil engineering master’s in Environmental Water Resources and a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, both from UC Berkeley. In recognition of Pepperwood’s commitment to world-class science, environmental education, and community involvement, Micheli has been named Bay Nature’s 2018 Local Hero for Environmental Education.

Read more at https://baynature.org/article/2018-environmental-education-local-hero-lisa-micheli/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , ,

Trump’s budget cuts: Even worse than you thought

Dan Farber, LEGAL PLANET

As you dive into the details, things keep looking worse.Trump is proposing huge cuts to EPA and other agencies. That’s bad enough. We’re beginning to learn more details, and the message is grim.  While these cuts may not emerge from Congress at the end of the day, they do express the Administration’s goals. In particular, they demonstrate that the Administration is deeply hostile to environmental science and that it lacks any interest in continuing to clean up our air and water.

Here’s what we know as of now:

Environmental Science. I have posted previously about the threat to scientific research posed by the Trump Administration. The Administration’s attack on environmental science – climate science in particular – is now taking concrete form.

  • NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose 26% ($126 million) of its current funding.NOAA’s satellite data division would lose 22% ($513 million) of its funding.
  • The Global Change Research, a program started by President George H.W. Bush, would be eliminated.EPA’s research on air, climate, energy (EPA) would be cut 50% (to $46 million)EPA’s research on chemical safety and sustainability would be cut 30% (to $62 million.)
  • Overall, EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) would be cut 40% (from $510 million to $290 million).
  • [Addendum] On March 9, the press reported that the Administration is planning at 30% cut for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which researches cutting edge energy technologies.

Read more at: Trump’s Budget Cuts: Even Worse Than You Thought | Legal Planet

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , ,

Op-Ed: California’s best investment in the fight against climate change

Dan Farber, LEGAL PLANET

Trump is on a search-and-destroy mission against climate science & energy research. We need to fill the gap.

How can California best move the ball on the climate issue? Ann Carlson and I have just published an op. ed. in the Sacramento Bee making the case for a state climate-research fund and explaining how it could be implemented. Here’s why investing in new knowledge is such an important move for California.

California can make the most impact if we get a multiplier effect, with our investments leading to further action by others. Knowledge is the most portable of all commodities, and there are crucial gaps in current knowledge. First, although available technologies will get the world to our 2025-2030 goals –much deeper cuts are going to be needed for 2050 and beyond. We’re going to need new technologies. That’s going to take basic research of a kind that private markets don’t supply. Second, although current climate models are pretty good at identifying long-term, large-scale trends, they’re weaker at predicting the timing of changes and at projecting local impacts. Cost-effective adaptation will require more precision as a basis for planning. The federal government has been subsidizing this kind of knowledge creation, but that’s obviously not going to be a priority for Trump or the current Congress – far from it. By filling the gap, California can be the catalyst for climate progress over the long haul and on a global basis.

Why California, you might ask? One reason is that we care about the issue, and we want to make a difference. Another reason is that California has the financial heft, as one of largest economies in the world. And finally, this research effort plays to California’s strengths. We have what is probably the strongest cadre of climate and energy researchers anywhere, taking into account the state’s universities, national labs, and Silicon Valley. For that reason, we can play a role that no other state – maybe no other country – could play.

California is already doing a lot, of course – setting an example to the rest of the country, while communicating to the rest of the world that all is not lost in the United States. Reducing our own emissions and starting to think about adaptation are crucial tasks. But we can make the most difference with actions that make climate progress possible not only here, but also globally. Money spent on installing rooftop solar in California is important, but it only reduces California’s emissions. But investing in new technologies and prediction methods will create tools that we and other people around the world can put to work. That’s why generating the knowledge that humanity will need over coming decades is our best bet to promote progress on a global basis.

Source: California’s Best Investment in the Fight Against Climate Change | Legal Planet