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First Offshore Wind Farm In The U.S. Kicks Off Construction

Offshore wind is coming to the United States.

Construction on what will be the country’s first offshore wind farm started Monday in Rhode Island. The wind farm, which is being developed by Deepwater Wind, will be located off of the coast of Block Island, a small island about 13 miles south of Rhode Island. Once completed, the five-turbine, 30-megawatt wind farm will produce enough energy to power all homes and businesses on Block Island, which previously relied on diesel generators, according to the Sierra Club. The wind farm will also send energy to mainland Rhode Island. It’s expected to come online in fall 2016.

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Pope Francis poised to weigh in on climate change with major document

The largely secular climate movement is about to get what some predict will be a historic boost from an intriguing source: Pope Francis.

Francis is putting the final touches on what may be the most authoritative papal teaching ever on the environment, a topic bound up with economics, global development and politics and thus very controversial. Even though no one outside Francis’s inner circle has seen the document — called an encyclical — it’s already being lambasted by some religious and political conservatives and held up by environmentalists as a potential turning point in their movement.

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The USDA Is Taking On Agriculture’s Huge Contribution To Climate Change

The United States Department of Agriculture plans to announce a set of voluntary initiatives aimed at helping farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners respond to climate change by increasing carbon storage, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting resilience in the face of extreme weather.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is expected to make the announcement Thursday during a visit to Michigan State University, where President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill. The initiative is based off of ten “building blocks” that cut across the agricultural sector and seek voluntary action from farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners to reduce their carbon emissions. Through these voluntary programs, the USDA hopes to reduce net emissions related to agriculture by 120 million metric tons per year by 2025 — the equivalent of taking more than 25 million passenger vehicles off the road.

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The Link Between Fracking Activity And Earthquakes Is Getting Stronger

We’re only mid-week, but it’s already been a big one for human-induced earthquakes.

On Tuesday, scientists from Southern Methodist University added to the growing body of research linking small earthquakes to oil and gas wastewater disposal. That body of research is particularly important to the popular but controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which produces significantly more wastewater than conventional drilling.

On the same day, Oklahoma’s government announced that it would officially embrace that large body of scientific research, and start figuring out how to deal with its growing earthquake problem. In the last decade, Oklahoma has experienced a dramatic increase in earthquakes — an increase that has happened in tandem with the spread of wastewater disposal from fracking operations across the state.

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Half of U.S. Fracking Companies Will Be Dead or Sold This Year

Half of the 41 fracking companies operating in the U.S. will be dead or sold by year-end because of slashed spending by oil companies, an executive with Weatherford International Plc said.

There could be about 20 companies left that provide hydraulic fracturing services, Rob Fulks, pressure pumping marketing director at Weatherford, said in an interview Wednesday at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston. Demand for fracking, a production method that along with horizontal drilling spurred a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas output, has declined as customers leave wells uncompleted because of low prices.

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A Danger on Rails

In recent years, small towns across the United States have begun hosting an increasingly common phenomenon: long trains, made up of 100-plus black cylindrical cars, rolling slowly past our hospitals, schools and homes.

Few who see them know what they carry: highly flammable crude oil from the shale fields around North Dakota.

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Five Years after the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Oil Spills Are on the Rise

Five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico sparked national outrage, oil spills remain a routine occurrence across the United States. Yet many receive little — if any — national attention. The enormity and unprecedented scale of the BP disaster demanded a federal emergency response and captured daily headlines for months. But oil spills and pipeline ruptures occur daily – as they have nearly every day since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010. While many are relatively small in comparison, they still pose threats to public safety, health, and the environment. 

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Louisiana five years after BP oil spill: 'It's not going back to normal no time soon'

To hear BP tell it, the environmental disaster that struck the Gulf of Mexico five years ago is nearly over – the beaches have been cleared of oil, and the water in the Gulf is as clear as it ever was. But how do you spot a continued disaster if its main indicator is the absence of something?

On this strip of land in south-eastern Louisiana, the restaurants are still empty, FOR SALE signs are increasing in store windows, people are still moving away, and this marina on Pointe a la Hache – once packed most afternoons with oystermen bringing in their catch on their small boats, high school kids earning a few bucks unloading the sacks, and 18-wheelers backed up by the dozen to carry them away – is completely devoid of life, save one man, 69-year-old Clarence Duplessis, who cleans his boat to pass the time.

“At this time of day, at this marina, it used to be packed,” Duplessis said. “And now there’s nothing.”

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This year Earth is off to warmest start in at least 136 years

Earth has had a remarkably hot first quarter of the year, with the January through March period coming in as the warmest such period on record, according to information released Friday.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms information from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), which indicated that 2015 was off to an unusually toasty start.

According to NOAA, March was the warmest such month on record, at 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, beating out 2010 by 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. The JMA also found March was the warmest such month in its database, whereas NASA ranked the month in third place. Each center uses different methods to gather and analyze global temperature information, resulting in different rankings.

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4 surprising reasons why clean energy is gaining on fossil fuels

Don’t hold your breath, but future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal — will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere. For the first time, however, it appears that a shift to renewable energy sources is gaining momentum. If sustained, it will have momentous implications for the world economy — as profound as the shift from wood to coal or coal to oil in previous centuries.

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