In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.

The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

The Senate, with Inhofe’s support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.


Hawaii legislature sets 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045

The Hawaii legislature on Tuesday passed a bill that would set a 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045.

The bill, House Bill 623, sets a goal of 30% renewables by 2020, 70% by 2040, and 100% by 2045.

The bill passed the Senate 24-1 and the House 50-1. It now heads to the desk of Governor David Ige, who is a Democrat.


Climate-denying House Republicans are trying to destroy NASA’s Earth science budget

In keeping with Ted Cruz’s contention that NASA is for exploring deep space, not studying the varied and pressing threats to our home planet, Republicans in the House Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology voted Thursday to more or less decimate the agency’s Earth science budget. The cuts, if voted through, could be anywhere from $300 million to $500 million — as much as 26 percent below President Obama’s budget for fiscal 2016.

Make no mistake: the bloodshed is a clear attack on climate science, to which NASA contributes significantly and House Republicans continue to deny.

Critics are particularly emotional about this, underscoring just how drastic the proposed cuts are. Meteorologist Marshall Shepherd, a former scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, penned an impassioned commentary in the Washington Post. “I literally could not sleep,” he wrote, “contemplating the reckless cuts to NASA’s earth sciences budget being proposed by some in the U.S. House of Representatives.” The proposed cuts, he writes, would not only kills many public and private sector jobs, but would have implications far beyond climate science.


Confirming Fears, Scientists Detect Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water

A toxic chemical used in the controversial drilling practice known as fracking has been detected in the drinking-water supply of Pennsylvania homeowners, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the chemical—2-Butoxyethanol or 2BE, known to have caused tumors in rodents—showed up as "white foam," which one researcher "likened to dishwashing suds."

The PNAS study, Evaluating a groundwater supply contamination incident attributed to Marcellus Shale gas development, suggests that drilling fluid escaped the narrow, vertical borehole while crews were first drilling the gas well, and then moved laterally along intermediate depth fractures to the aquifer used as a potable water source.


47% Of Spain’s Electricity Made By Renewables In March

Spain is getting the vast majority of its electricity from carbon-free sources, the country’s grid operator reported on Tuesday.

According to Red Electrica de Espana (REE), the Spanish peninsula got 69 percent of its electricity generation in March from technologies that produce zero carbon emissions — that is to say, renewable energy plus some of its nuclear power. Nuclear as a whole provided 23.8 percent of the country’s electricity in March, while 47 percent came solely from renewable sources.

Most of the renewable electricity being generated in Spain comes from wind, which alone provided 22.5 percent of the country’s electricity last month. Wind often competes with nuclear for the title of Spain’s top electricity generation source overall — in fact, though nuclear pulled through in March as the top source of electricity, wind has overall provided more electricity to Spain in the entirety of 2015. From January to March, according to REE, wind provided 23.7 percent of electricity generation while nuclear made up 22.7 percent.


New energy storage plant could 'revolutionise' renewable sector

Foundations for an energy storage plant in Ireland that could “revolutionise” the integration of renewable power into electricity supplies will be laid within weeks.

The plant will use a motor-generated flywheel to harness kinetic energy from the grid at times of over-supply. This will then be released from submerged turbines at times of supply shortfalls.

The project in Rhode, County Offaly, is expected to launch commercially in 2017, with an operating capacity of 20MW.

Although the system will initially feed off all energy in the grid – clean and dirty alike – it has the potential to resolve the transmission system operators’ dilemma of how to store large amounts of energy created during windy or sunny conditions for instantaneous use when the weather changes.

At the moment, such energy shortfalls are compensated for with fossil fuel generators such as coal or gas-fired power plants, or by hydro pump storage. Unlike conventional coal and gas generators which have an efficiency ratio of 35-40%, the flywheel operates at upwards of 85-90% efficiency.


Why The USA Keeps Electing Climate Change Deniers

One of the most significant obstacles to addressing climate change is the fact that huge numbers of US politicians reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet. Why does the situation persist? How can a senator who (literally) holds up a snowball as evidence that global warming is a hoax keep winning reelection? How can someone who declares himself a climate "skeptic" be a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination? As newly released research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication makes painfully clear, GOP climate deniers actually hold views that are quite similar to those of the voters who elect them.

The Yale research is based on data from more than 13,000 survey responses since 2008. It estimates that nationwide, just 48 percent of people agree with the scientific consensus that global warming is caused "mostly" by humans. While other recent polls have found a somewhat higher percentage who say they believe humans are causing the planet to warm, Yale's numbers are not a good sign for those—like billionaire activist Tom Steyer—who are trying to turn climate change denial into a disqualifying political position.

- Things look even more discouraging when you use the researchers' snazzy interactive maps

Zero Deforestation arrangement for Palm oil to be implemented by KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut

Yum! Brands, the organization that claims KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, on Thursday reported a zero deforestation arrangement for its palm oil sourcing. The move came after forceful battles by ecological gatherings that argued that the restaurants weren’t doing what’s needed to guarantee the palm oil they used to cook food wasn’t connected to human rights misuses, obliteration of peat lands, and logging of rainforests.

The strategy sets December 2017 as focus for creating shields for palm oil sourcing. Yum! says it will just come from suppliers who block farmstead advancement in high carbon stock and high preservation esteem ranges, in the same way as rainforests and peat lands; have debate determination forms set up; offer traceability to the plant level; and evade underage laborers and constrained work.

The benchmarks apply Yum’s! worldwide fast food business, the importance it applies to every last bit of its restaurants.

Yum! has a comparable arrangement of rules for its paper and fiber sourcing.

The declaration was immediately accepted by Greenpeace, which battled against the organization’s mash and paper sourcing practices in 2012.


Study Shows That The Chemical Used To Clean Up BP Oil Spill Is Completely Toxic

Researchers at the University of Alabama recently published a study suggesting that Corexit EC9500A, the primary oil dispersant used in the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is causing major harm to the local eco-system.

According to the study, Corexit damages epithelium cells in both humans and marine animals.

The study was published in PLOS ONE this week and studied the effect that the chemical had on the bodies of humans, zebrafish, and blue crabs.


Protesters Try to Stop Nestle Water Bottling Plant in South Sacramento

In the darkness of the early morning hours protesters gathered at the driveway of the Nestlé water bottling plant. Armed with signs and props like torches and pitch forks they made their position known.

Environmental and water rights activists blockaded all truck entrances to the plant. This is a similar scene to a protest back in October of last year. The plan this morning was to shut down the company’s operations.

At issue: the amount of water the company uses to sell for profit, especially during a drought. But Nestle says they are in compliance, and pay the same rate for water as any other metered business or manufacturer in the city of Sacramento.

Nestlé’s spokesperson went on to say the company believes in people’s right to protest and that like all businesses in California they are looking at ways to conserve. In 2014 Nestlé says it used 50 million gallons from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply, which they say is a fraction of one percent of total water demand within the city of Sacramento.