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Obama has a plan for getting around Senate opposition to a climate treaty

Grist.org - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 22:23

The elephant in the room every time Americans talk about international climate agreements is that, unlike in parliamentary democracies, our opposition party gets a veto over treaties. Due to the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate for ratification of international treaties, Senate Republicans can, and will, reject any binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions (joined by some fossil fuel–state Democrats).

In theory, this means that 34 senators, representing as little as 7.5 percent of the American public if they come from the least populous states, can block any global action on climate change. The U.S. is the world’s biggest economy, and many other big nations won’t join an agreement if we won’t.

But Obama, as demonstrated by his power plant regulations, is determined to do what he can with the power he has. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is planning to go to the big climate talks in Paris next December asking for the strongest possible accord short of a treaty. “President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a ‘politically binding’ deal that would ‘name and shame’ countries into cutting their emissions,” writes the Times’ Coral Davenport. “Negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.”

Back in 1992, when Democrats were in the Senate majority and Republicans hadn’t gone off the deep end, the Senate ratified the legally nonbinding United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets up the regular meetings known as “protocols” to negotiate actual emissions reductions. The Obama administration would seek to expand the 1992 framework as much as possible, so that any deal reached next year would technically be an update rather than a new treaty, along with some new but mostly voluntary measures.

That might work as a way of getting around Republican opposition. But unfortunately, Republicans are not the only political obstacle to a new agreement. Throughout the wealthy Anglophone world, conservative parties are backsliding on climate change. And the conservative parties are currently in power in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Australia and Canada are particularly eager to exploit their dirty fuel resources and are doing everything they can to undermine global efforts to stave off climate apocalypse.

When Australia repealed its carbon tax last month, The Wall Street Journal noted:

In Europe, Australia’s repeal has hobbled ambitions of linking up similar carbon-emission trading systems around the globe to the EU’s own. …

In the U.S., Australia’s repeal is providing political fodder for critics of President Barack Obama ‘s climate agenda, feeding into criticism that Mr. Obama is acting alone on a problem that is stubbornly global in nature. …

Australia’s repeal also helps strengthen the position of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has repeatedly rejected calls from opposition politicians and environmental groups to introduce a carbon levy in Canada …

Canada formally withdrew from the Kyoto protocol on climate change in 2011, arguing the treaty would prove ineffective because it failed to incorporate major emitters such as the U.S., China and India. Mr. Harper can now point to Australia’s decision as evidence that he isn’t a global outlier, as his critics contend, when it comes to environmental policy.

Australia and Canada also undermined climate talks in Warsaw last year by refusing to contribute to a climate fund for developing nations. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently reasserted their skepticism of global climate agreements at a joint press conference. Climate change, said Abbott, is “not the only or even the most important problem the world faces.”

Still, conservatives in other developed countries are not as backward as their American counterparts. Domestic politics compel Abbott and Harper to admit anthropogenic climate change is happening and to at least feign a desire to address it in a way that won’t hobble their economies.

And so the Obama administration will try to thread a needle in Paris next year: get an accord that is strong enough to appease developing nations, which are calling for rich countries to reduce their emissions and contribute to the Green Climate Fund, but weak enough to appease conservatives in other developed nations.

The one thing Obama cannot do, however, is appease conservatives at home. Since they do not accept the global scientific consensus on climate change, there is no deal they will ratify. Instead, Obama must make a deal that avoids the need for Senate ratification but still has enough teeth to compel action. That’s a very fine needle to thread.

Filed under: Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

These adorable car ideas from kids will make your day

Grist.org - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 22:15

For the Toyota Dream car challenge, Japan’s biggest car company asked kids across the world to design their ideal vehicles. But it only takes a quick scan of the winners to see a few themes emerging. Driving is secondary. Flashy and fast vehicles are out. Instead, cars are literal vehicles meant to solve herculean social and environmental hurdles (and in some cases disperse super-cute rescue squids).

The adult jury panel selection undoubtably had a lot to do with leaving Transformers-esque submissions on the cutting room floor. The judges waded through 662,898 submissions from 75 countries and regions. The 31 winners attended an awards ceremony held in Tokyo today. Their artworks are so goodhearted and loaded with little-kid weirdness that we can’t help but share a few.

Below is a handful of our favorites (see the rest of the entries here). Be sure to read the hilarious and heartwarming captions. Adorableness awaits:

Robo-Squid Hydropower Rescue Car

Nakoto Ichikawa

“It is constantly being charged up in water by hydropower. When Robo-Squid headquarters receives an SOS of someone in trouble in the water, Squid Juniors go into action to rescue people. When the damage is enormous or a ship is about to sink, Squid Baby’s Egg Trampoline expands and helps the situation by becoming a cushion or coiling around and pulling it up.” — Nakoto Ichikawa, 7, Japan

Super Crab Car

Thanh Mai Bui

“I live in a rural area and my parents are farmers. I wish Toyota could create a car that can recycle straw and rubbish into paper, notebooks and stationery for me and my friends after harvesting rice. If it could do that, it would be so fantastic!” — Thanh Mai Bui, 6, Vietnam

Environmentally Friendly Toyota Kingdom

Phonepaseuth Sengmanyvong

“My car cleans and keeps the natural balance and helps protect animals from being hunted.” — Phonepaseuth Sengmanyvong, 14, Laos

Birds’ Car

Aishwarja Nafisa Noshin Khan

“This car has been invented for birds. Birds’ necessities will be fulfilled through this car.” — Aishwarja Nafisa Noshin Khan, 7, Bangladesh

My Dream Car

Luca-Filip Clima

“This car collects metals to produce engines.” — Luca-Filip Clima, 6, Romania

Balloon Car

Luo Tong Zoe Sim

“This is a solar-powered, light balloon car. Accident and pollution free, it is made from recycled materials and can fold up into a bag.” — Luo Tong Zoe Sim, 5, United Kingdom

Underwater Musical Vehicle

Evonne Tan Wei Ni

“An economical and environmentally friendly vehicle, capable of transporting a choir group underwater to perform for the aquatic animals.” — Evonne Tan Wei Ni, 10, Malaysia

Love Car 

Pranali Harish Patel

“My dream Love Car converts hate and violence into peace and love. It travels all around the world to spread love and encourage people to stop fighting and love each other instead.” — Pranali Harish Patel, 11, Kenya

Smart Fish Car

Mealaksey Pha, Cambodia

“I love fish so much, that is why I decided to draw a colorful fish, and this fish can be driven like a car. Therefore, everyone who is fond of fish can enjoy driving the fish car that I have drawn at all times.” — Mealaksey Pha, 5, Cambodia

Hey, I’d take a Smart Fish Car over a Tesla any day, Mealaksey. Our congrats to all of the winners and (hopefully) future car engineers. We realize this is a free good publicity for a gigantic car company, but if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, consider test-driving a Robo-Squid Hydropower Rescue Car today.

Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Living
Categories: Environment

UW Rankin Self-Publishes Debut Novel, Sublimity: Perchance to Dream, A...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 19:41

Sublimity is now available in ebook and hardcover form.

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/06/prweb11920400.htm

Categories: Environment

An Analytical Outlook: Rare Earth Metals Market by Transparency Market...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 19:41

Transparency Market Research includes new market research report "Rare Earth Metals Market: Global Industry Analysis, Applications, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2012 - 2018" to...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12124796.htm

Categories: Environment

Rejuvenating a Lawn with Reseeding: The Grounds Guys® Offers...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 19:41

The Grounds Guys offer expert advice on reseeding your lawn this fall to help ensure a healthy, lush green lawn next spring.

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12126156.htm

Categories: Environment

Local Landscaping Company Diversifies

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 19:41

Turns To Spring-Green Lawn Care To Help His Business Grow

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12119037.htm

Categories: Environment

Trifluoroacetic Acid Industry (Asia, Europe, North America, ROW)...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 19:41

ReportsnReports.com adds “2014 Market Research Report on Global and China Trifluoroacetic Acid Industry” market research report to its store.

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/trifluoroacetic-acid/market-research-report/prweb12124922.htm

Categories: Environment

Invasion of the corn snatchers

Grist.org - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 18:36

Food has become the domain of all sorts of shady underworld characters. There are drug dealers bootlegging rice through Europe, fraudulent fishmongers fencing fillets in fine restaurants, and mafia capos adulterating olive oil in North America. Now thieves are conducting elaborate heists to fleece farmers of their vegetables.

According to a story in the New York Times, the crew that hit Whit Betts’ Green Acres farm had the perfect plan:

The thieves had come at night and left 10 outer rows closest to the road intact so as not to arouse suspicion. They knew what they were doing: They picked cleanly, without wrecking the stalks. And they grabbed plenty of butter-and-sugar corn, a common variety in Connecticut, but left behind the more valuable Kandy corn.

“I think we’re the only ones to grow that in central Connecticut, so that would have been traceable,” Mr. Betts said.

The robbers who broke into Anderson Farms, 25 miles to the east, weren’t so careful, and were caught red handed.

“They had corn tassels in their hair,” Mr. Anderson said. “A dead giveaway.”

Seriously guys, this isn’t cool. If you all can’t deal with the temptation of beautiful local farms, we’re just going to have to consolidate them all to the remotest midwest and ship all your food to you long distance.

Filed under: Article, Food
Categories: Environment

Hip Hop curbs SUVs, takes Tesla for a spin

Grist.org - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 18:25

Rappers have been infatuated with cars since the beginning of Hip Hop, with a niche fetish for bulkier models. Early rapper endorsements of Jeeps, Suzuki Sidekicks, and MPVs are arguably what cued the auto industry to expand the SUV market. At one point, you couldn’t find a rap video that didn’t feature a fleet of stretched-out SUVs that probably got about 10 miles off the gallon. The ’98 – ’04 No Limit-Cash Money Records era was when it reached Peak Foolishness, with constant display of Humvees, Escalades, Navigators and other six-to-seven-figure gas guzzlers with shiny hubcaps that did silly, spinny things.

Things then began to die down, perhaps when rappers saw what little utility those vehicles held in Hurricane Katrina floodwaters, or how expensive it was to maintain them in the recession after. But hybrid cars didn’t quite catch on with the culture. They became joke fodder, as evidenced on Childish Gambino’s “Real Estate” where comedian Tina Fey flips a popular Jeezy line to say “My president’s black, and my Prius is blue, motherfucker.”

Listen to Fey parody herself, and the Prius, in the video below. (The song, and others in this post, are NSFW. Fey comes in around 5:00.)

But then that dude Elon Musk came out with the sleek Teslas and now Hip Hop has a non-petro-fried whip it can ride with. Kanye West shouted out Musk at Bonnaroo, and now it looks like Jay Z might have a new “murdered out” Model S. Other rap and trap stars are upgrading their status symbols, replacing the traditional B-list of cars (Beamer, Benz, Bentley, Bugatti) with those of the battery-charged variety.

In G Unit’s recent comeback attempt, “The Beauty of Independence,” 50 Cent — one of the biggest car whores of all time — raps, “I ain’t a BMW, I’m elecTRICK.” This matters if only because we know his early endorsement of Vitamin Water led to Coca Cola buying the company for a few billion. Now Google Glass is working with him. Could he also help tilt the market toward electric cars?

We’ve heard a few other rapper’s reference these cars, and not just as ostentatious floss. Here’s Canibus (yes, he’s still rapping. LL did not totally murder him.) recounting a murder mystery in his song “Sinflation”:

He was driving a Tesla Model S playing loud music/He drove into an EMP storm and got electrocuted/Trust fund lawyers were recruited, lawsuits were instituted/”The electric car killed him!” — prove it/Quantum evolution, quantum conducive/Quantum revolution rap music quantum electrocution…

Common also uses it in storytelling mode for his song “Hustle Harder,” describing how a nameless female protagonist sizes up her economic prospects:

Beamer Benz, she got friends with high ends/She know trends, she know when/She go in, like an investor/Yes sir, never get gassed like a Tesla/Ain’t about all that extra…

Common might have been listening to Cunninlynguists who used a similar simile in their song “Hot”:

All these girls, man, they just want me to sweat ’til I starve, but I don’t get gassed up like an electric car…

And then there’s this from producer Alchemist featuring Odd Future’s Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats, along with Freddie Gibbs, for a rhymefest that makes no mention of the car, though the song is named after it. (It might also be named after Nikola Tesla. As with most Odd Future songs, the lyrics give us no clues.)

We’ll see where this goes. Hip Hop artists are classic tastemakers, having elevated otherwise obscure or mediocre brands into consumer must-haves. A few more key endorsements and we might be able to get those Teslas produced to the point where regular people can actually afford them.

Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Living
Categories: Environment

Pro Ace Now Provides Emergency Electrical Service and Maintenance in...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Many electrical accidents require immediate attention and cannot be delayed. For such times, Pro Ace has announced emergency electrical service and maintenance offers at...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12117755.htm

Categories: Environment

Cash House a Major Supporter of Horizons for Youth

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Cash House has shown it has become a major supporter to the community and in the past year Cash House has been proudly supporting Horizons for Youth as a corporate donor.

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12124564.htm

Categories: Environment

Synchrophasors in Smart Grid in Key Countries, Update 2014 Market...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

MarketResearchReports.Biz include new market research report "Synchrophasors In Smart Grid In Key Countries, Update 2014: Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends And Forecast" to its...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12125153.htm

Categories: Environment

SAE International Publishes Series of Technical Reports That Help...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

With the recent publishing of four technical reports, SAE International now offers a series of recommended practices designed to enhance overall ambulance safety in several areas, including patient...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12125435.htm

Categories: Environment

Roald Haestad, Inc. Staff Join the Tata & Howard Team

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Tata & Howard enhances its water, wastewater, and stormwater consulting engineering services and adds dam engineering services by acquiring the assets of Connecticut-based consulting firm Roald...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12073450.htm

Categories: Environment

Rolling Gates NYC Now Offers Commercial Doors Installation and Repair...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Rolling Gates NYC, a Reputed Security Gates Company, Can Help Businesses Rebrand Their Presence with Top Quality Revolving Doors and Sliding Fences

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12117354.htm

Categories: Environment

Hope Foods Achieves SQF Certification

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Hope Foods announces its Level 2 certification by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a globally trusted, recognized and accepted food safety and quality program. The successful completion of the...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12123888.htm

Categories: Environment

Maleic Anhydride Industry & Isoprene Market Global and China...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

ReportsnReports.com adds “2014 Market Research Report on Global and China Maleic Anhydride Industry” and “2014 Deep Research Report on Global and China Isoprene Industry” market research reports to...

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/maleic-anhydride-industry/isoprene-market-reports/prweb12124897.htm

Categories: Environment

El Pastillo Golf Classic at Royal Isabela to Support and Preserve...

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Usually it’s the land that supports a golf course. This time, the golf course is helping support the land.

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Royal_Isabela/El_Pastillo_Golf_Classic/prweb12125332.htm

Categories: Environment

WaterSmart Software Taps New CEO to Lead International Growth

PR Web - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:41

Robin Gilthorpe to serve as new CEO; Founder Peter Yolles to Focus on Deepening Relationships with Utilities

(PRWeb August 27, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12123795.htm

Categories: Environment

Why Connecticut is doing sushi right

Grist.org - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 15:46

Bun Lai
Miya’s Sushi
New Haven, Conn.

New Haven is not known for its sushi, and sushi isn’t known for being sustainable. Bun Lai’s joint breaks both of these conventions. The restaurant has even become a destination for discerning New Yorkers.

Why we chose this sushi:

You can’t count on salmon, tuna, or eel on the menu here. Instead, you might find rockfish, tilapia from a local aquaculture school, and wild, local seaweed. The menu will often include “trash fish,” invasive species such as lionfish, and lots of vegetables. A recent dish even featured dehydrated larvae.

On educating the next gen of sushi eaters:

Lai was raised in the Yale community by a scientist father and a chef mother (Yoshiko Lai, who founded Miya’s in 1982). His parents helped him build an appreciation for good food at a young age, and he sees Miya’s as a way to offer the same education. “There are kids who are growing up with Miya’s, and really don’t know any other sushi,” he says. “They’ll go to other restaurants asking questions, like, ‘Why do you do things this way?’”

Click to check out the full map.
Filed under: Food, Living
Categories: Environment