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The UK government has made more than €1bn ($1.35bn) selling carbon permits to polluting businesses, and could make billions more each year for the next decade, research published Thursday shows. But despite pressure from the European Union, none of the revenue raised is being directed towards green projects.

On Thursday, the UK made about 63 million Euros off a new batch of permits, the first since trading was halted for two weeks after hackers stole around 40 million Euros worth of the permits. The government plans to hold five more auctions this year, selling 17.5m permits, which could represent a gain to the Treasury of more than €260m at current carbon prices. From 2013, the government stands to make as much as €8bn a year, according to estimates from the UK’s Carbon Trust.

Permit auctions started in 2008, when changes to the EU’s rules on emissions trading meant member state governments were allowed to sell off up to 10% of their allocation of permits, which had previously been given out for free. The UK decided to auction 7%, covering the emissions of the power sector.

From 2013, about half of the total number of permits available are expected to be sold. The only companies expected to receive their permits free of charge are those in industries particularly vulnerable to competition from overseas businesses that are not subject to the same strict environmental regulations.

The enlarged number of permits available for auctioning will greatly boost the government’s revenues from the scheme, according to the Carbon Trust, while simultaneously helping the environment by forcing companies to reduce carbon emissions or buy permits off other companies (who would thus have to have fewer emissions).

All in all, a good day for the environment and the UK government.

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Knee-deep water inundated communities in south-east Australia today, splitting one town in two, as swollen rivers carried flood fears downstream and officials urged residents to evacuate.

The state of Victoria is the latest area of Australia afflicted to be hit in the weeks-long flooding crisis that has left 30 people dead, caused once a century floods in many areas and could become the country’s costliest natural disaster.

Horsham, in Victoria state, resembled a lake after the Wimmera river overflowed its banks and bisected the community before starting to recede several hours later. About 500 homes in the city, which has a population of 14,000, were surrounded by water.

Across north-central Victoria state, more than 3,500 people have left their homes, with 51 towns and 1,500 properties affected by the rising waters.

In north-west Victoria, floodwater has left 1,000 households without power, and thousands more homes face the threat of cuts as substations and low-lying power lines are submerged.

The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, announced the formation of a business task force to assist with rebuilding devastated infrastructure in Queensland.

A day earlier, she said the floods that ravaged Queensland could be the country’s most expensive natural disaster.

Most of the 30 people who died in Queensland were killed a flash flood that hit towns west of the state capital, Brisbane. The state’s flooding affected 30,000 homes and businesses, and left 12 people missing.

The price tag from the floods was approximately 5 billion dollars before waters swamped Brisbane last week.

As Republicans take the reins of the 2011 Legislature next month, high on their agenda is revising the countries’ energy and environmental laws, to boost natural-resource development and jobs.

“If we are going to have jobs, it will be in natural resources,” says Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “I think our committee will be very busy.”

Montana is one state in which the agenda of politicians is very environmentally related.

Republican lawmakers, who will have strong majorities in both chambers of the 2011 Legislature, already have requested scores of bills in this arena, targeting everything from the Montana Environmental Policy Act to renewable-energy mandates, which they see as unnecessary.

Many Democrats as well as the state’s environmental community are bracing for a fight, saying the state’s environmental-protection laws will come under “constant and very serious attack.”

In addition to the proposed changes to MEPA and renewable-power incentives, environmentalists say they’re also expecting attempts to alter or roll back the state’s ban on cyanide heap-leach gold mines, weaken the state Superfund hazardous-waste cleanup law, enact private-property laws that could stymie environmental regulations and perhaps even encourage nuclear-power development in Montana.

Republicans, however, say their convincing victory in legislative races in November is a message that Montanans want more development of all resources, including oil, gas, coal, timber and more.

Sorry for not having any posts in the last 3 weeks, but I’ve been very busy. At least someone in the US Government fakes caring about the environment!

We Could Lose the Tiger

‘The roar of a wild tiger could soon be replaced by silence if the global summit fails to target the illicit demand driving its decline,’ writes Robert Zoellick of the Guardian.

In 1894, when the Jungle Book was first published, 100,000 tigers roamed the wild. Today, that number has plummeted to 3,200. And Shere Khan’s hunting grounds, the habitats in which all wild tigers live, are disappearing. Tigers now occupy only 7% of their 1894 range.

The extinction of the wild tiger would be an extraordinary tragedy. It would be a tragedy not only because of the appalling loss of these animals, but also because it would pose a threat to the health of the habitats in which they live and the prey that support them. Tigers are an umbrella species – their health reflects the health of surrounding plants and animals.

We know what is causing the decline in numbers of wild tigers: illegal poaching; illegal wildlife trade; loss of habitat through conversion, encroachment, and land degradation. But the good news is we have also found that tiger populations can recover. For them to do so, we have to target the illicit demand that drives tiger decline – because the illegal trade in wildlife is nothing more than organised crime.

This year, 2010, is the Year of the Tiger. During 21-24 November, the global tiger summit in St Petersburg, Russia, will bring together the 13 countries that still have wild tigers, along with some wildlife conservation and development partners. The summit will be an historic occasion, where world leaders will undertake specific commitments with the goal of doubling tiger numbers to 7,000 by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger, and protecting their habitats.

By working to save the wild tigers, we’re protecting a majestic animal so it can continue to stir our imagination, just as it did in Kipling’s day. At the same time, we’re arousing attention about all the biodiversity of our planet.

I’ve already brought this up before, talking about my opinion and those of others. However, I feel I need to bring it up once more as the Guardian had another article on it. I am of course talking about the BP oil disaster.

The presidential commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster ran into controversy today by saying it had found no evidence that BP and other oil companies put profits ahead of safety on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

In a preliminary finding by what is the first independent panel, the commission’s chief investigator found a series of missed warning signs before the April 20 explosion on the rig.

Fred Bartlit, appointed by President Obama to investigate into the spill, complained repeatedly during his presentation that he did not have subpoena powers and had to rely on the goodwill of oil firm.”I wish I had that power because I think it’s damned important — but that’s the way it goes,” he said. The Senate refused to grant such powers.

In a long and detailed re-enactment of events leading up to the explosion, Bartlit and his team outlined a clear trail where disaster could have been averted. The team also questioned executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton. The investigation produced 13 findings on the path to the disaster.

Eleven men died when the rig exploded, releasing nearly 5m barrels of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico. The Macondo well was from the start a challenging one. BP had intended to drill even deeper but stopped at 18,36 ft because of the difficulties of preventing oil seeping into the surrounding rock.

The failure is even more striking given BP and Halliburton knew by 20 April that the cement seal on the well was defective.”People knew there was one barrier. The well was under-balanced and that called for heightened high vigilance,” Grimsley said. “People knew you had to be really careful.”

The findings included:

• The cement seal at the bottom of the well failed to hold back oil and gas in the reservoir, and should have been redesigned.

• BP and Transocean interpreted the failed negative pressure test as a success.

• BP introduced additional safety risks in its plan to shut down the drilling rig.

• Crews on the rig and in offshore offices should have picked up warnings on monitors that gas was rising from the well.

• Rapid response at that time could have prevented a blowout.

Many conclusions mirror those of BP’s internal investigation, and Bartlit said he agreed with 90% of it. The most significant conclusions for BP could be the finding that the leak rose through the drill pipe rather than the space between the casing and the rock formation. That supports BP’s contention that its well design was not a contributing factor in the explosion.

Wow. Talk about NEGLIGENCE.

Although there is an important role for skepticism in science, for almost 30 years some corporations have supported a disinformation campaign about climate change science.

While it may be reasonable to be somewhat skeptical about climate change models, these untruths are not based upon reasonable skepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science.

These claims have included assertions that the science of climate change has been completely “debunked” and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. There are numerous lines of evidence that point to human causation even if it is not a completely settled matter.

According the New York Times article, the fossil fuel industry has “created and lavishly financed institutes to produce anti-global warming studies, paid for rallies and websites to question the science, and incorrectly reduces statistics to do with climate change.”

Disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily – if not criminally – irresponsible, because the consensus scientific view is based upon strong evidence that climate change:

• Is already being experienced by tens of thousands in the world;

• Will be experienced in the future by millions of people from greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted but not yet felt due to lags in the climate system; and,

• Will increase dramatically in the future unless greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced from existing global emissions levels.

It’s horrible that anyone is thinking to dupe public as a whole into believing falsities to do with climate change.

Poor Polar Bears…

While the US and southern Canada relish a golden, warm autumn, way up north the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba, are heading to the shores of Hudson Bay.

They are waiting for the bay to freeze so they can end their months-long fast and hunt seals. But these days their wait for the ice can be four to six weeks longer than in decades and centuries past. And in the spring the ice melts earlier, forcing them back to land where they fast again throughout the longer warmer seasons.

“It makes you appreciate how fragile the ecosystem is,”  Churchill zoo communications manager Steve Pine said. “It’s really too bad that it’s come to this- how can polar bears be expected to survive and multiply in these conditions? And what can one group or one person actually do?”

Personally, I certainly wish one person could make a huge difference. But it takes the agreement of corporations, the government, and the population to do anything real and substantial- this is why it’s so hard to actually tackle the (SUPPOSED) climate change. I only say ‘supposed’ because naysayers provide reasonable evidence, but how can you say that nothing is happening when a fragile ecosystem is getting ruined and not melting and freezing on time?

The melting of the polar ice caps is as real as the world we live in. How come we can’t solve these environmental problems?

Alberta’s oil sands are a reasonably sized source of oil located in one of Canada’s Prairie provinces, Alberta. Ezra Levant is a Canadian lawyer and blogger with an interesting opinion on the oil sands.

Environmentalists are constantly thinking about what they could be doing better to sell action on climate change. The folks on the other side, possibly including Ezra Levant, apparently are not afflicted with the same sense of self doubt.

How else can you explain a rebranding exercise being embraced by conservative commentators in Canada to market the produce of Alberta’s tar sands as “ethical oil”?

The case is being made in a new book by conservative activist Ezra Levant called: “Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands”.

From what I can glean in press reports, the gist of Levant’s argument is that yes, Canadian tar sands oil is really, really bad for the planet — it produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions as convention oil, poisons rivers and destroys ancient boreal forest — but it’s politically smarter than buying from the Middle East or Venezuela.

Or as Levant so subtly puts it:

“You can’t fill up your car’s gastank with solar panels or windmills or cold fusion or dilithium crystals. It’s Canadian ethical oil, or Saudi terrorist oil.”

It’s pretty clear to me that Ezra Levant cares more about politics than the environment. To Levant, Canadian ‘ethical oil’ is better than the alternative, Saudi ‘terrorist’ oil. But at what price does it come? Is it REALLY ethical if it means three times the emissions and destroying ancient forest?

For the larger part of my childhood, I grew up in and around these forests. It is NOT ethical oil if beautiful boreal forest is destroyed, no matter how great the political benefit.

Paul Watson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was recently interviewed and I found his comments on what he does very interesting.

As a little bit of background, Watson is a Canadian, was co-founder of Greenpeace, and has been captain of the Sea Shepherd and its ships for 30 years, putting himself and his fleet between whaling ships, mainly the Japanese, for that time.

When he was asked about why he does what he does, and how killing a whale is any different than killing a pig or cow, he replied:

‘How can anybody compare the killing of a pig to the killing of a whale? First of all, our ships are vegan. Forty percent of the fish caught from the oceans is fed to livestock – pigs and chickens are becoming major aquatic predators.

You cannot compare the killing of animals in a domestic slaughterhouse to the killing of a whale. What goes on with those whales and dolphins would never be tolerated in a slaughterhouse. Those slaughterhouses would be shut down. It takes from 10 to 45 minutes to kill a whale and they die in horrific agony. That would be completely intolerable and illegal in any slaughterhouse in the world.

Also they’re an endangered and protected species – pigs and cows are not. They’re part of a natural ecosystem, which [the] pigs and cows [we eat] are not. ‘

If we are to support his work to stop Japanese whaling and generally the slaughter or sea life, he said we should:

‘Stop eating the ocean– there is no such thing as a sustainable fishery. When you eat meat, make sure it’s organic and isn’t contributing to the destruction of the ocean because 40 percent of all the fish that’s caught out of the ocean is fed to livestock – chickens on factory farms are fed fish meal. And be cognizant of the fact that if the oceans die, we die. Therefore our ultimate responsibility is to protect biodiversity in our world’s oceans.’

It sounds to me like an ESS class, but he does bring up valid points that we depend on the ocean and we ought to be more protective of the oceans and their biodiversity. Definitely an eco-centric guy with some extreme views and a set of morals on him; he ‘does it all for the whales and creatures of the sea’. If I lived his experiences, I probably would too.

It’s really too much for me to write all here. See the link below for the stories of how he made eye contact with a whale as it bled to death, how a whale almost crushed his ship, and some captivating thoughts on the whale hunt and, of course, more.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/21/sea-shepherd-paul-watson-whales

Michael O'Leary

‘Just when you thought Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary chief executive couldn’t make a bigger prat of himself, he manages to up the ante. This time, by quite a some considerable margin.

In his latest tirade against all things environmental, he appears to be inviting the audience to play “climate sceptic bingo”. Read all the clichés and canards contained within each of the sentences he utters:

“Nobody can argue that there isn’t climate change. The climate’s been changing since time immemorial.

Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it’s all a load of bulls**t. But it’s amazing the way the whole f**king eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 12 years, they say ‘climate change’.

Well, hang on, we’ve had an ice age. We’ve also had a couple of very hot spells during the Middle Ages, so nobody can deny climate change. But there’s absolutely no link between man-made carbon, which contributes less than 2% of total carbon emissions [and climate change].”

He mocked global warming campaigners, describing the United Nations as “one of the world’s most useless organisations”, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “utter tosh”, and US politician Al Gore as someone who “couldn’t even get f**king re-elected” after a boom.’

It’s pretty clear that Michael O’Leary is a very opinionated man. As cost-effective airline Ryanair’s CEO, he has used his position to slant any and all ecocentrics rather brashly. His position is very anti-ecocentric, leaning more towards anthropocentric (although he is quite rude and doesn’t appear to like most people).

I think we can all agree that one thing is for sure – Michael O’Leary is no eco-warrior!