In the News This Week

A Stack of Newspapers

Government Urged to Research Geoengineering

Earlier this month the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report that recommends the government start researching the potential of geoengineering technologies to counteract the impacts of climate change.

Among other things, possible strategies include removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This could be done by building machines that suck carbon dioxide from the air and then storing the gas underground.  Another option is to cool the Earth by increasing the amount of solar energy that is reflected back to space. Scientists could do this by putting tiny particles, or liquid droplets, into the stratosphere to deflect incoming solar radiation.

The Bipartisan Policy Center stressed that geoengineering is not a substitute for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts and it’s too early to consider using such technology, according to its website.

Geoengineering might be an emergency measure if the “climate system reaches a ‘tipping point’ and swift remedial action is required,” according to the report.

Some of the report’s authors said they “hoped that the mere discussion of such drastic steps would jolt the public and policy makers into meaningful action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which they called the highest priority,” reports The New York Times.

Yale Environment 360 has an extensive interview with Jane C. Long, chair of the 18-person task force that compiled the report.


Australia’s Lower Parliament Votes Yes on Carbon Tax

On Wednesday Australia’s lower house of Parliament voted in favor of passing a carbon tax that will impact 500 of Australia’s largest polluters.

If the bill is passed the 500 polluters will need to pay A$23 (about US$23.40) per tonne of carbon they emit, starting in July 2012. The bill will pave the way for the implementation of a carbon-trading scheme in 2015. (See Reuters article for more).

It’s likely the bill will readily pass the Senate next month with backing from senators in the Green Party, reports The New York Times.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott made what he called a “pledge in blood” to fight to repeal the bill.


Climate Change Censorship, Texas Style

Officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have been hard at work cutting references to climate change and its link to sea level rise from a report on sea level rise in Galveston Bay, according to Mother Jones.

John Anderson is an oceanographer who works with the Houston Advanced Research Center, which the state contracts to produce reports on the bay.  After having his report heavily tweaked by members of Rick Perry’s administration, Anderson sent the document, along with editorial track changes, to Mother Jones. (Access it here).

“I was a bit astonished,” Anderson told Mother Jones. “Really this paper is just a review of papers we published previously. There’s no denying the fact that sea level rise has significantly accelerated. The scientific community is not at all divided on that issue,” he said.

He has refused to allow the commission to publish the edited version.

“I don’t think there is any question but that their motive is to tone this thing down as it relates to global (climate) change,” Anderson told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s not about the science. It’s all politics.”

Andrea Morrow, spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality offered “no reason for the deletions in an e-mail response, saying only that the agency disagreed with information in the article,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “It would be irresponsible to take whatever is sent to us and publish it,” she said.

Featured image: Daniel R. Blume via Flickr.

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