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Big Oil Is About to Lose Control of the Auto Industry

While the U.S. pats itself on the back for the riches flowing from fracking wells, an upheaval in clean energy is quietly loosening the oil industry's grip on the automotive industry.

Presentations by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) this week pick away at the idea that supply alone is behind the plunge in crude prices to $50 a barrel. The presentation also shows that low-pollution cars are gaining ground, weakening the link between oil and driving.

The result: Future transport is likely to look a lot different than what the major oil companies are fueling now. Instead of biofuels such as ethanol and green diesel making the internal-combustion engine fit into a world with greenhouse gas limits, wholesale new solutions are coming fast. “Where we are is in an age of plenty,” said Michael Liebreich, BNEF's founder. “We have cheap oil, cheap gas, cheap renewables. You do have an abundance of supply in a way you haven't had for decades. We also are in an age of competition.”

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White House Announces Plan To Tackle The Health Threats Of Climate Change

The White House is getting serious about tackling the health impacts of climate change, announcing Tuesday a suite of initiatives aimed at educating Americans about how climate change affects their health and addressing the most pressing impacts of a warming world.

The announcement includes a range of new public and private sector initiatives and projects, including health-related projects from companies like Microsoft and Google, the creation of a coalition to educate health care professionals on the risks climate change poses to health, and the release of two government reports on health and climate change.

On a press call, senior adviser to President Brian Deese said that though the White House has stressed the link between climate change and health in the past, these new initiatives are meant to “step up that effort.” He also said that tying climate change to health is an effective way to educate Americans about the threat.

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How much water was used to make your dinner?

California's crippling drought has prompted conservation efforts, such as replacing grass lawns and minding how long you leave the tap water running. But what about the food on your plate? Agriculture uses 80% of California's water supply, and producing what you eat can require a surprising amount of water.

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Despite Historic Drought, California Used 70 Million Gallons Of Water For Fracking Last Year

Even in the midst of its historic, ongoing drought, California used millions of gallons of water for hydraulic fracturing last year, according to state officials.

The state used nearly 70 million gallons of water to frack for oil and gas in 2014, Reuters reported last week. That amount is actually less than the 100 million gallons officials previously estimated the state uses for fracking operations every year.

Steven Bohlen, California’s oil and gas supervisor, noted to Reuters that not all water used for fracking operations is freshwater: some of it is produced water, which rises to the surface during the fracking process and can’t be used for drinking or irrigation. In all, Bohlen said, fracking uses the same amount of water as about 514 households each year.

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California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions. They’re Not Nearly Enough.

On Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced a historic statewide effort to restrict water use amid new measurements showing the state’s snowpack at stunning record lows. Unfortunately, the new rules mostly ignore the state’s biggest water user: the agriculture industry.

“We are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” said Brown, who traveled to an official snowpack monitoring station near Lake Tahoe to make the announcement.

Brown’s new executive order cracks down primarily on urban water usage, mandating a 25 percent reduction by February 2016 from the amount used in 2013. The new rules focus on lawns and golf courses, which use about half of urban water in California, and set a target to replace 50 million square feet of lawns with native landscaping within the next year.

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Oil Rig Explosion Kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico, No Spill Reported

An explosion and ensuing fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico today left four dead and injured 45 others, according to the Pemex oil company.

Pemex, a Mexican state-run oil company, said 300 workers have been evacuated after the fire broke out on their Abkatun Permanente platform.

Pemex said in a statement tonight that no spill occurred. "The fire that broke today at the Abkatun processing platform in Campeche did not cause an oil spill in the sea. Authorities only registered a runoff, which is being contained by specialised vessels," Pemex said.

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Syracuse University announces it will divest from fossil fuels

Syracuse University announced Tuesday that it is formally divesting endowment funds from coal mining and other fossil fuel companies.

SU will continue to seek investments through its endowment in companies that are focused on developing new technology involving solar energy, biofuels and advanced recycling, according to an SU News release.

This commitment means that SU will not “directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels.” External investment managers at SU will also be directed to halt investments in these public companies, according to the release.

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Obama's New Climate Change Plan in Two Charts

The White House just pitched to the United Nations a detailed statement of its goals for cutting climate pollution and how it expects to meet them.

Here’s what you need to know.

By the end of the day, developed countries were supposed to issue reports on all their climate-friendly activities—what the bureaucrats call an “intended nationally designated contribution.” Just six governments have submitted plans so far: the U.S., Russia, the EU, Switzerland, Mexico, and Norway. Ideally, all the policies together will add up to an agreement at talks in Paris at the end of the year to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the UN’s goal.

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Study: Direct Evidence That Global Warming Causes More Global Warming

Scientists agree that an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases causes the Earth’s temperature to rise, but they’ve also noticed that relationship seems to swing both ways: warmer temperatures also seem to correspond with an increase in greenhouse gases. But drawing conclusions about the nature of the relationship is tricky, because though scientists have seen a correlation, they haven’t been able to show causation.

Now, scientists believe they’ve untangled the relationship. In a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change, researchers from the University of Exeter claim to have found direct evidence that as global temperatures rise, so does the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, creating a positive feedback that in turn warms the Earth even more — basically, global warming creates more global warming.

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Poll Finds Strong Majority Of Americans Support An International Climate Agreement

A new poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans support an international agreement to cut planet-warming emissions.

The poll found 72 percent of likely 2016 voters said they support the United States signing on to an international agreement on climate change.

The Benenson Strategy Group conducted the polling for the environmental organizations Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists, and surveyed 1,000 expected voters.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they thought the United States “should take the lead and make meaningful reductions in its carbon emissions and other gases that may cause global warming.” Even a majority of Republican respondents -- 52 percent –- expressed support for the U.S. joining an international agreement on climate change. A much stronger percentage of Democrats, at 88 percent, supported it, as did 73 percent of independents.

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