Wednesday, October 29, 2008

China fossil fuel emissions on track to double

(Photo of pollution haze in Beijing from Flickr and photographer Addictive Picasso)

New Update: A new report from Chinese researchers wsays that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels will double by 2030 if serious steps aren’t taken to cut them. “China Energy Report,” from the Chinese Academy of Scientists, warns of drastic repercussions if China tries to follow in the steps of developed countries on energy use. Lead author is Wei Yiming, who worked with the UN panel that assessed global warming. The report does not include emissions from farming or deforestation. The Chinese government predicted last year that the country would emit an estimated 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2050. The new report estimates 3-4 billion tons. China passed up the U.S. in GHG emissions last year. The Oak Ridge Laboratory estimates U.S. emissions at 1.6 billion in 2007 and China’s at 1.8 billion. (Sources: Reuters, thedailygreen)

Why is Arctic ice melting even in winter?

(Photo of Arctic ice from Flickr and photographer kenyai/Tunde Pecsvari)

News Update: The Arctic polar ice cap is melting even in winter and last winter lost an estimated 20% of its thickness, according to British research out of the University College London. The cause is not winter temperatures, the researchers said. Speculation is that warm water is coming under the ice cap, either from ocean water heating up or currents changing. (Source: London Times )

Warming Greenland glacier causes earthquakes

News Update: Scientists have linked the fast-melting and calving Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland with increased seismic activity that registers around the world. When a large chunk break off and spills into the fiord it scrapes along the sea bottom and causes quakes of 4.6 to 5.1. Want to see a video of the calving glacier? (note: it’s speeded up 25 times, since these things happen slowly) (Source: Discover)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Financial meltdown slams corn ethanol and threatens mass transit, but Big Oil still riding high

(Photo of ethanol plant from Flickr and and photographer freddthompson, actor, senator and presidential candidate)

Weekly Angst: Because of the financial meltdown, ethanol companies are struggling and some are going under. Caught between corn contracts signed last summer when prices were sky-high and lower fuel prices, and with credit hard to come by, businesses are seeing the ethanol bubble of the past year burst. Investors have lost billions. VeraSun Energy, for example, expects to lose up to $103 million this quarter. Its stock is down 90% from its peak earlier this year. And ethanol companies in Kansas and Ohio declared bankruptcy last week. The Agriculture Department is considering loan guarantees to keep ethanol businesses afloat.

Mass transit hits trouble
Mass Transit agencies are also caught in the crunch. They face having to pay banks billions as old financing deals fall apart. The problem was triggered by the failure of insurance giant AIG, which guaranteed deals between the agencies and banks. Because of long-standing agreements to give banks tax shelters by selling them rail cars and then leasing them back, some 30 mass transit agencies around the country are now in danger of having to pay back their loans all at once. Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is the first to be hit. KBC Group of Belgium wants $43 million by next week. The feds may have to get in the middle of this one too – to keep the trains running.

Other repercussions include cancellation of a coal-to-liquid joint venture between Consolidated Energy and Synthetic Energy Systems and the delay of a SunCor Energy oil sands project in Canada. (No tears shed over those).

Major oil companies in good shape

So how is the meltdown affecting Big Oil? With prices dropping rapidly you might think they’re feeling the pain. But apparently not. With record profits last year, they have reduced their debt and are cash fat. So now they can buy up distressed smaller rivals and make deals with resource-heavy countries. Production may be down, but refining should be profitable this year. And they expect less pressure to pass windfall profits taxes. So lower prices and lower demand don’t really bother them. (No one ever said life is fair.)

On the bright side
The economic downturn could benefit green technology, though. It could give government a historic opportunity to climate-proof its infrastructure as part of a public works effort to generate jobs. This may translate into an investment opportunity, says a recent report from Deutsche Bank. The International Energy Agency has called for a $45 trillion investment in climate related technology by 2050. And Deutsche Bank says renewable energy investments have more promise in the long term than tradition energy sources.

At the same time, venture capital continues to flow into Silicon Valley and California in general. VC investments in energy and utilities were up in the 3rd quarter 90% over the same period last year, as investors pulled back from other sectors like information technology, media and financial services. Clean tech reported a record $1.08 billion in investments, most of it going to solar. In the Bay Area, which includes Silicon Valley, overall VC was up 22%, the highest single-quarter total since 2001. One benefit of green technology is most of it is tied to government policy so it’s not as vulnerable to swings in the market.
Observers are waiting to see the results of this quarter, however, anticipating that falling oil and carbon prices could have an impact. VC fell in the third quarter in other parts of the country.

And Neal Dikeman, of Jane Capital Partners, warned that a prolonged financial crisis could have an adverse effect on a 2012 post-Kyoto international agreement to fight global warming, by either delaying or weakening it.

For additional comments on the financial crisis’ impact on climate change see my earlier post.

(Sources: Greenwire, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Explorers will measure Arctic ice thickness to determine when it will disappear

(Photo of expedition at North Pole from Flickr and photographer kanati/Adam Grimes)

News Update: A team of 3 British explorers will take a 4-month trip to the North Pole on foot, skis and even swimming, in an effort to determine when Arctic summer ice will disappear. The UN-backed group expects to take 10 million readings to gauge ice thickness, something satellites have been unable to determine. Estimates for summer ice to disappear now range from 5-100 years, so a little more specificity is in order. Summer ice in the Arctic has been receding at a rate of 116,000 square miles per decade (about the size of the British Isles), but no one knows how much it has thinned. The 3 expect to work 12 hours/day in temperatures as low at 58 degrees (F) below zero. Leading the group is British explorer Pen Hadow, who made a pioneering solo walk from Canada to the North Pole in 2003. (Source: PlanetArk)

Scientists will test Antarctic Peninsula ice shelf to better forecast sea level rise

(Photo of Antarctic Peninsula from Flickr and photographer mschutt/Matt S)

News Update: The British Antarctic Survey, including participate from the University of Edinburgh, will send a group to Larson C ice shelf, on the Antarctic peninsula (closest to South America) to try to determine when and if it will break off. Larson A plunged into the sea in 1995 and Larson B in 2002. Larson C, the size of Scotland, is considered vulnerable. The group will drill and use radar in their exploration. While the ice shelf already sits in the sea and will not cause water levels to rise if it breaks off, glaciers on land behind it would likely slide faster into the ocean, and that would cause sea levels to rise, something of great concern to coastal communities. (Source: PlanetArk)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Senate races may tip Congress on global warming

(Photo of Cong. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) speaking at Democratic Convention from Flickr and photographer Jeffrey Beall)

Weekly Angst: Over the past 2 years a narrowly divided Senate has stymied all kinds of efforts to curb global warming. Now we have a chance to elect 8 new senators who could turn that around. In 6 of the 8 races that offer a clear choice, the environmental candidate either leads or is neck-and-neck with an anti-environment one. The 7th race looks bad and the 8th appears to be a lost cause. The key races are in New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon, North Carolina, Alaska, Kentucky and Oklahoma. But there’s also mention of Minnesota and Maine at the end of this blog.

New Mexico: Cong. Tom Udall (D) has a commanding lead over Cong. Steve Pearce (R). Udall leads in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by a commanding 17.6 percentage points. Udall, endorsed by a coalition of 5 national environmental groups, is the son of Stewart Udall, who was Interior Secretary under Kennedy and Johnson. Udall co-wrote the Udall-Platts renewable electricity standard (RES) bill that passed the House last year but not the Senate. It would have mandated that power plants use 15% renewable energy by 2020. He has a lifetime score of 96% with the League of Conservation Voters and is seen as someone who would be a leader in the Senate. His opponent is one of LCV’s Dirty Dozen, with a lifetime score of only 1%. He owns millions of dollars worth of Key Energy stock and voted against repeal of oil subsidies, RES and better fuel economy standards for cars. They are vying for the vacancy left by Republican Pete Domenici’s retirement.

Tom’s cousin Mark Udall (D) is a 5-term congressman who also has the endorsement of the 5 national groups who see him as another potential leader against global warming in the Senate. Mark leads his opponent by 9.3 points. The son of “Mo” Udall, who served in Congress 30 years and ran for president, Mark had a 95% LCV score in the last Congress and 100% every term before that. He was involved in passing RES and mandating fuel efficiency for cars (CAFE). He’s running against another Dirty Dozen candidate, former Cong. Bob Schaffer (R), who left Congress to work for an oil company. His lifetime LCV score is 5%. He supports drilling in ANWR and opposes more fuel efficient vehicles and incentives for energy conservation. They are competing for the seat held by Sen. Wayne Allard (R).

New Hampshire:
Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is the third candidate seen as a leader against global warming and supported by the coalition of 5 organizations (LCV, Sierra Club, Environment America, Defense of Wildlife Action Fund and Clean Water Action.) As governor, she made her state a leader in clean energy. N.H. was the first state to pass a law requiring power plants to cut emissions of 4 pollutants and she made state buildings more energy efficient and promoted alternative energy. She is challenging incumbent Sen. John Sununu (R) and leads him by nearly 6 points in the polls. Sununu has voted for drilling in ANWR, opposes a binding international climate change treaty, and helped block votes on fuel economy, clean energy and the repeal of big oil subsidies. His lifetime LCV average is 35%.

North Carolina: State Sen. Kay Hagan (D), endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and Environment America, has a narrow lead of 3.4 over incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R). Hagan has an 85% score from the N.C. Conservation Council and is considered a proven leader for clean, renewable energy. She has supported solar energy and an RES for N.C. and opposed big handouts to oil and gas. Dole, one of LCV’s Dirty Dozen, has a lifetime score of just 4%. She has consistently voted for Big Oil and against CAFE standards. She supports incentives for coal and other dirty technologies.

Oregon: This is another state where the incumbent Republican is trailing slightly behind the Dem challenger, State House Speaker Jeff Merkley.
Merkley has a record of leadership in enacting renewable energy solutions, including an RES of 25% by 2025 and favors cutting GHG by 80% by 2050. Merkley leads by 3.3 points and has strong support from Environment America. Incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith, a 2-term senator, is “an election year environmentalist,” according to Environment America. Generally he has sided with the oil and auto industries and voted against fuel efficiency and curbing global warming, while favoring drilling in ANWR. His lifetime LCV score is 37%.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) is challenging 40-year incumbent Ted Steven (R) of bridge-to-nowhere fame and currently on trial for corruption involving gifts and home improvements from an oil man. Begich holds a 2.3 lead in polls and the race is considered a toss-up, despite McCain-Palin's huge lead there. While he has the Alaskan affinity for drilling in ANWR, Begich says Alaska is “ground zero” for global warming and feeling its affects more than anyplace else. He joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Initiative and has replaced streetlights with LEDs, shut down city computers when they’re not in use and harnessed methane from landfills. Stevens, in addition to his other problems, is one of the Dirty Dozen for his environmental policies. He has a 14% lifetime voting record. He consistently votes for tax breaks for oil and has collected $460,000 in gas and oil contributions.

Challenger Bruce Lunsford (D) is putting up a good fight against House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, though McConnell leads by 6.5 points. While favoring “clean coal” Lunsford also touts investment in renewable resources, efficiency and hybrid cars. He’s a health company entrepreneur and raises thoroughbreds. McConnell is one of LCV’s Dirty Dozen and is considered an “impassable roadblock in the way of clean energy efforts." So it’s more a matter of getting rid of McConnell, who’s position is powerful, than of pushing Lunsford. But 6.5 two weeks out is not encouraging.

Oklahoma: Even more discouraging is Andrew Rice’s (D) challenge against incumbent James Inhofe (R), who won’t even acknowledge global warming exists. Rice trails by 18 points. He is endorsed by the LCV. He favors putting a price on carbon, accelerating the CAFE standards and passing an RES. Inhofe, No. 1 on the Dirty Dozen list, is ranking member of the Environment Committee (used to be chairman) and has threatened to filibuster every piece of global warming legislation. His lifetime score is 5%. He has accepted nearly $1 million from the oil and gas industry.

Minnesota and Maine: Two other races are worth a quick mention: In Minnesota, challenger Al Franken is running a close race with incumbent Norm Coleman (R), and leads slightly by 2.2 points. Coleman’s environmental record isn’t bad, but Franken who calls for an “Apollo Project” in renewable energy, is endorsed by LCV. Also endorsed by LCV is incumbent Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, who is comfortably ahead (15 points) of challenger Tom Allen (D). Collins often crosses over to vote with the Democratic majority on environmental and other issues and has a 100% LCV score the past 2 years.

Take action: So if you want to see good global warming laws passed by the next Congress, think about sending a contribution to one of the candidates in a toss-up race. And if you live in one of those states, get active and help out in the last 2 weeks if you haven’t already. You can help make a difference.

(Sources: League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Environment America,

In case you missed it, an earlier EarthlingAngst post shows why Obama is better than McCain for the fight against global warming.

And by the way, Environmental Defense has a cool timeline of progress lost on climate change during the Bush Administration.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guess who will be selling natural gas to the U.S.?

(Photo of Gazprom sign in Moscow from Flickr and photographer Martin Griffiths)

News Update: When T. Boone Pickens came up with his plan for natural gas to fuel U.S. cars, the idea was that gas would be local. Now, look who’s getting into the act – Russia. Gazprom, the Russian company that supplies 85% of Russia’s natural gas and 25% of Europe’s, is eyeing the North American market as a customer for its offshore gas fields. The company plans to buy a small, unidentified, natural gas marketing and trading company in the U.S., Jack Hattenberger, Gazprom president for U.S. marketing and trading told a U.S.-Russian business group last week. “Long-term our goal is to develop a leading marketing and trading organization in North America, using LNG [liquid natural gas] as our foundation supply." The company plans to ship 500 million to a billion cubic feet a day here starting in 2014 and ramp up to 4-10 billion cubic feet. (The U.S. Department of Energy expects our consumption of natural gas to be about 24 trillion cubic feet by 2016.) Gazprom execs, including 2 who are close to Putin, also visited Alaska last week to pitch help in extracting its gas. They have experience in the far north, they said. I don’t mean to sound protectionist here, but what happened to independence from foreign oil. Doesn’t that apply to gas too? And didn’t Russia turn off the pipeline to Eastern Europe to put political pressure on them. T. Boone, I don’t think this is what you had in mind. (Source: E&E News PM)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vt., Conn., Calif. top list on energy efficiency

(Image of heat-loss poster from Flickr and thingermejig)

News Update: The top states last year on investment and policies to foster energy efficiency were Vt., Conn. And Calif., according to a report card released last week by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Poorest grades went to North Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi. Other states cited for showing leadership and innovation were Mass., Ore., Wash., N.Y., N.J., R.I. and Minn. Criteria included lowering price volatility, slowing energy demand, less need for new power plants and less risk of blackouts. Several states, including Illinois, were mentioned for making significant advances between 2006 and 2007. (Source: E&E New PM)

Bay Area cities join to fight climate change

(Photo of Bay Bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland from Flickr and photographer Dikesh Joshi)

News Update:
Look West, young man, for examples of pioneering work on global warming. Now three Northern California cities have joined forces to reduce their emissions by 2013. San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland have agreed to cooperate on cutting greenhouse gases, by boosting the number of hybrid and electric vehicles, diverting waste from landfills and increasing green jobs. They also plan to craft a common standard for green buildings and rooftop solar installations, decrease water consumption, provide incentives to cut the use of gasoline in transport and educate the public about climate change. The goals have been endorsed by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a coalition of 284 companies including PG&E, Apple and Google, as well as the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. (Source: ClimateWire)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Will financial crisis and bailout help or hurt in fight against global warming?

(Headline collage from Flickr and Mother Pie/Hattie Page)

Weekly Angst: The credit crisis and $800-plus billion U.S. government bailout plan will likely have an impact on spending on climate change, but will the positives outweigh the negatives? While conventional wisdom might say there’ll be little money left over to fight global warming, many see green technology as the engine that will drive future growth and revival – at home and around the world.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors last week predicted 4.2 million new green jobs by 2038, adding to the 751,000 already in existence in 2006.

And green technology in Silicon Valley is one of the few industries still growing in California, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger noted.

The bailout
The add-on to the $700 billion bailout extended tax credits to help renewable energy, efficiency and sales of plug-in cars. While wind energy is a bit shaky, with only a 1-year extension and damage to some of its main investors – AIG, Lehman Brothers and Wachovia – the industry sees slower growth in 2010 but is still hopeful that utilities and other new investors will take a stake in the fast-growing new energy source.

Solar seems in a somewhat better position with an 8-year extension of production tax credits. The demand for solar panels reportedly still exceeds demand.

The American auto industry says it will remain on track to continue producing smaller, fuel-efficient cars and looks forward to competing for the $25B in low-interest loans from the federal government approved earlier this month.

Good signs
Other signs of hope that climate change will remain a high priority in Washington:
• The economic crisis raises the possibility of Democrats getting the 60-vote majority in the Senate they will need to pass a renewable energy standard (RES) and a cap-and-trade bill.
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says climate change remains a priority for her.
• There will be international pressure on the United States to negotiate a viable post-Kyoto treaty.
• And front-runner Barack Obama, should he become president, has touted a $150 billion renewable energy economic plan and produce 5 million jobs.

Some Republicans, however, may balk at passing a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, because they’ve always been concerned about its impact on the economy and that fear will be heightened. There are those who think such a bill might be held over till 2010, delaying action another year.

Others raise the alternative of a carbon tax, much easier to understand than another complex financial market. But worldwide carbon trading is thriving and expected to grow 80% to $116 billion by next year, thanks in large part to the Kyoto mandate for the European Union.

A major concern for a post-Kyoto agreement is that rich countries may be unwilling to come up with the money and technology for developing countries needed in order to get them to participate in curbing greenhouse gases.

UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon expressed concern last week that short-term financial emergency will eclipse the longer-term problem of global warming.

But finance ministers from around the world, at a World Bank and IMF meeting over the weekend, pledged to keep climate change on a front burner. Even bankrupt Iceland’s minister said, “We can’t afford to delay responding to climate change.”

And economists and UN leaders are creating a green New Deal. The Green Economic Initiative, spearheaded by the UN Environmental Programme, will be launched next week in London with its focus on renewable energy, other green technology and saving the world’s natural systems. Funded by the European Commission, Norway and Germany, the Initiative will – among other things – work to save forests, whose loss, they say, equals more than $2 trillion a year. The Initiative could produce hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide, according to Pavan Sukhder, chairman of Deutschbank's Global Market Center.

(Sources: Reuters, Greenwire, ClimateWire, PlanetArk, Daily Green, The Independent)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wind, solar and geothermal tax credits extended, but fossil fuels get incentives too

(Photo of wind farm in Texas from Flickr and photographer fieldsbh)

Washington Report: In case you missed it, the $700 billion bailout bill included renewable energy tax credit extensions, which just a week earlier had seem DOA for this session of Congress because the Senate and House couldn’t agree. It was the Senate version (the least desirable one) that was attached to the bailout. So we got good news and bad news: the good being that renewable energy companies can continue to grow – the bad being that coal, oil shale and tar sands got a break too. The $17 billion package of extensions included:
• 1 year of production tax credits for wind (the industry is already lobbying for longer-term extension of credits)
• 2 years of production tax credits for geothermal, biomass and other alternative sources.
• 8 years of investment tax credits of 30% for solar energy for homes and commercial properties and removal of the $2,000 cap (so an installation costing $30,000 would be reduced to $20,000).
• Biodiesel credits for the U.S. that put an end to Europeans shipping their product here to get the credit and then back again.
• New credits for plug-in electric hybrid vehicles of $2,500 to $7,500. The new Chevy Volt would qualify at the top level.
• New credits for wave and tidal energy projects.
• New employer tax credits to reimburse up to $20/month to those who use bicycles as their main commuter transportation
• New credits for refineries that process oil shale and tar sands.
• New credits for coal-fired plants that capture and store carbon dioxide, including pumping it into depleted oil fields to extract the remaining oil.
• Inclusion of coal-to-liquid fuel as an alternative fuel.
(Sources: Greenwire, E&E Daily)

Wins and losses in this Congress in fight against global warming

Washington Report: Congress has left Washington for the election campaign, and a lame duck session in November is unlikely to bring much action on the global warming front. So we can probably go ahead and assess what this Congress has done for us in the fight to curb greenhouse gases. There was a flurry of activity, with multiple committee hearings and dozens of proposed bills, so the topic was high profile. But what was really accomplished? Not much.
• The biggest victory was passage for the first time in 2 decades of a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard for cars and light trucks. They will have to average 35 mpg by the year 2020. That bill also had a renewable fuel standard, which encouraged a controversial increase in the use of corn ethanol, which does nothing to curb greenhouse gases and drove up food prices.
• Left on the drawing board, passed by the House but not the Senate, was a renewable electricity standard of 15% by 2020 to force power plants to use less fossil fuel and more renewables.
• Failed to summon the 60 votes needed to debate a compromise and watered-down global warming bill by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (Va.)
• Permitted the 26-year-old off-shore drilling ban to expire, as well as a ban on oil shale extraction in Western states. (Though Democrats are hoping to reinstate the offshore ban, at least partially.)
• Extended renewable tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable sources, adding incentives for plug-in cars and wave energy, but also for fossil fuels in the form of refining oil shale and tar sands, producing coal-to-liquid, and sequestering carbon. The tax credits were on their way to oblivion when the Senate leadership attached them to the $700 billion bailout bill at the 11th hour.
So, the fossil fuel interests basically won every round except auto fuel efficiency, if you see extension of renewable credits as maintaining the status quo. There’s been a lot of activity, but not much progress. We need to get those 60 votes in the Senate.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Worldwide emissions of CO2 up 3% in past year

(Photo of a Montana power plant from Flickr and photographer ambimb)

News Update:
Carbon dioxide emissions, a prime driver of global warming, grew 3% in 2007. The increase exceeded forecasts by international scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report 2 years ago and suggested a trend that could result in the worst-case scenario for climate change put forth by IPPC, which predicted a temperature rise of 4 to 11 degrees F by 2100. While 3% doesn’t sound like a lot, consider what will happen if that rate of increase persists for 10 or 20 years. China led the growth last year, providing more than half the increase. The U.S. was second, with a 2% increase, after emissions declined the previous year. Several industrial countries cut their emissions in 2007. Since 1992, world emissions have grown 38%, though the Kyoto Protocol called for a cut of 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. “If we’re going to do something [about the rate of growth] it’s going to have to be different than what we’re doing,” said Gregg Marland, a senior Department of Energy scientist. (Sources: Greenwire,, AP)

Northeast and Western states to test carbon trading in regional markets

News Update: Ten Northeast states have launched the nation’s first cap-and-trade system, raising $38.5 million for renewable energy and efficiency. It applies to electric utilities and about 90% of the allowances will be auctioned. The goal of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (pronounced “Reggie”) is to cut CO2 emissions 10% between 2014-18. There is a problem, though. The cap, set several years ago as the plan was being developed, may be too high to make much difference. GHG emissions in the region have leveled off in recent years instead of growing as expected. So the cap is higher than current usage. Some say the states may need to set a new, lower cap. Meanwhile, in the West, 7 states and 4 provinces across Canada unveiled a blueprint for a similar plan. The Western Climate Initiative aims to cut emissions 15% below 2005 levels by 2020. The Western plan would be economy-wide, including industry, transportation and homes. In a concession to industry, it plans to auction only 10% of allowances, giving the rest free to polluters and causing concerns some businesses could make windfall profits, as happened in the initial European plan. While both regional plans seem to be imperfect, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the states are moving ahead where the federal government had failed to act. (Sources: ClimateWire, New York Times, AP)

Amazon rainforest destruction surges

(Photo of logs on the Amazon River from Flickr and photographer P.C. Loadletter)

News Update: Illegal logging increased 228% in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in August, compared with the same month a year ago, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research, which monitors deforestation by satellite. This after three years of declining deforestation. Officials blame upcoming elections, with mayors allowing illegal logging in the hope of winning votes. Another cause is the increase in global food prices, which spurs clearing of land to raise cattle and grow soy for export. Deforestation is a major source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Sources: New York Times/AP, Greenwire)