A new study finds the tar sands have yet higher CO2 emissions than expected because of the threat they post to forests and peatlands.
That is no bombshell: Climate Progress has previously pointed out that tar sands development threatens the carbon-rich boreal forests. Now it has been quantified.
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that existing industry plans for exploiting the tar sands will destroy over 29,500 hectares (65%) of local peatland. Peatlands are better known as bogs, moors, mires, and swamp forests. Their decaying organic matter is rich in carbon and already emerging as a major amplifying carbon-cycle feedback.
The study, “Oil sands mining and reclamation cause massiveloss of peatland and stored carbon,” finds that this destruction will release stored carbon equivalent to 42 to 173 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, “as much as 7-years worth of mining and upgrading emissions at 2010 production levels. The study notes that this “will reduce carbon sequestration potential by 5,734?7,241 metric tons C/y” and points out
These losses have not previously been quanti?ed, and should be included with the already high estimates of carbon emissions from oil sands mining and bitumen upgrading
The study also slams the industry’s claim can restore the tar sands ?to a sustainable landscape that is equal to or better than how we found it?:
Claims by industry that they will ?return the land we use – including reclaiming tailings ponds – to a sustainable landscape that is equal to or better than how we found it? (33) and that it ?will be replanted with the same trees and plants and formed into habitat for the same species? (34) are clearly greenwashing.The postmining landscape will support >65% less peatland. One consequence of this transformation is a dramatic loss of carbon storage and sequestration potential, the cost of which has not been factored into land-use decisions. To fairly evaluate the costs and bene?ts of oil sands mining in Alberta, impacts on naturalc apital and ecosystem services must be rigorously assessed
CP has previously reported on research that makes clear there is no place for a major expansion of the tar sands if we want to avoid catastrophic global warming. This study reinforces that conclusion.
A new poll finds that the public supports President Obama over Congressional Republicans on gas prices. The National Journal survey shows that 44% of respondents trust the President ?to make the right decisions to help bring down the price of gasoline,? against 32% for the Congressional GOP.
We’ve previously reported that both Murdoch?s Wall Street Journal and Koch-fueled Cato Institute agree: ?It?s Not Obama?s Fault That Crude Oil Prices Have Increased.? The poll found the public shares that assessment:
When asked what the main reason behind the price increase was, some 38 percent laid the blame on ?the manipulation of prices by large energy companies.? Twenty-eight percent cited ?tension in the Middle East, particularly over Iran and nuclear weapons.? Well down the list were ?the policies of President Obama? (14 percent) and ?the policies of congressional Republicans? (5 percent).
These findings are particularly impressive because conservatives and GOP presidential candidates have been bashing Obama almost nonstop on this issue, trying to blame the President for high oil prices.
What the president can do is reduce the oil intensity of the economy, the amount of oil consumed per dollar of GDP, which is the true measure of how vulnerable the economy is to the price spikes and generally rising prices that are inevitable as we approach peak oil production. Obama has been pursuing such policies, which include his aggressive fuel economy standards and investing in clean energy alternatives.
And even in the face of rising gasoline prices, the public still supports Obama’s approach, as the poll found:
Americans put somewhat more stock in the Democrats? policy of conservation and development of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, than they do in the Republicans? emphasis on greater domestic production of oil and gas. Fifty percent of respondents said that the Democratic approach ?would do more to lower fuel prices,? while 42 percent went with the GOP approach.
In related news, the Washington Post fact-checker gives 3 Pinocchios to the GOP claim that Obama wanted higher oil prices. Also, Gallup reports that “U.S. economic confidence improved sharply” last week to “the highest weekly levels Gallup has recorded since it started tracking confidence daily in January 2008.” Finally, the WashPost notes of its recent poll:
At the moment, 63 percent of Americans say that gas prices are causing them financial hardship, with 36 percent saying the gas squeeze is causing ?serious? financial hardship. (See Question 11.) But those are actually the lowest hardship numbers since May of 2008 ? and, in fact, it?s virtually identical to what Americans were saying in May of 2004, six months before George W. Bush won re-election.
Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell (R) is set to be sworn in today as South Carolina’s new lieutenant governor after Ken Ard resigned from the position last week in the wake of a grand jury indictment on ethics violations. But McConnell may not be any less controversial.
The Republican lawmaker is perhaps best known for his unapologetic embrace of the Confederacy, grabbing national headlines in 2010 when he appeared in photos dressed as a confederate general — posing with two people presumably imitating slaves:
Asked in a 1999 interview on ABC?s Nightline what he thinks when he sees the Confederate Flag, he replied, ?I see honor, courage, valor. I see the red, white and blue and the blood of sacrifice that ran through that battle and the people that carried that flag. I don’t see black and white. I don’t see racism.” He added that it “hurt[s] our feelings” when people bring up race with the flag.
When the South Carolina legislature voted to removed the Confederate Flag from the state capitol in 2000, he said, “Like General Lee when he was confronted with Appomattox and said, ‘There’s nothing left for me to do than get terms from General Grant.’ It is very difficult, extremely difficult for us on our side to vote to move that flag. And it has been equally difficult for our brethren on the other side.”
Campaigning in Hawaii yesterday ahead of the state’s presidential caucus today, Mitt Romney’s son Matt veered a bit off message when he told a local TV station, “I’m not here to talk about President Obama I think he is great.” “I’m here to talk about my dad and what he would bring to the country,” Romney went on to say to KITV. Matt Romney previously ran into trouble when he made a birther joke in New Hampshire in December.
An anti-bullying bill that would have enumerated gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes was rejected by Kentucky’s House Education Committee today despite pleas to pass the bill from parents and friends of two teenagers who committed suicide due to bullying, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. State Rep. Ben Waide (R), in announcing his opposition to the bill, said the bill aimed “to achieve equality by making some people more equal than others” and said it was “about gay rights in our schools,” not bullying. Two Kentucky students — an eighth grader and a high school freshman — committed suicide in the last five months to escape bullying.
Like lawmakers across the U.S., Idaho legislators are considering a bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion, which could add up to $200 to the cost of the procedure for women. But one requirement in the legislation is for the state to post a list of clinics that provide free ultrasounds. It’s expected that most of the organizations listed will be crisis pregnancy centers, known for deceptive tactics to try to stop women from having abortions. But the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Chuck Winder (R), has no issue with codifying the deceitful tactics because the point of the ultrasound bill is “to convince a woman not to go through with abortions.”
In the few months since I've launched my $100,000 Real-Money Portfolio, the market has continued to surge upward. The gains have been especially pronounced for some of the riskiest and most of unloved stocks of 2011 that have partially been the beneficiary of recent short-covering.
That's not to discount the validity of this rally. It's impressive enough, though fairly thin trading volume doesn't give a lot of confidence that the rally can push the market higher still in coming weeks. (3.1 billion shares were traded among S&P 500 stocks on March 12, the lowest level of 2012.) That's why I'm staying put with my conservative approach, focusing on stocks that appear to have solid downside support.
Yet careful . . . → Read More: I’m Selling 500 Shares of this Well-Known Stock
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But one poll does not a trend make. And two polls from different polling outfits don't make a trend either, since you need to compare apples to apples: the NYT's new numbers to their old, and likewise for the WaPo. Wait until next month's surveys, at least, before concluding that there's some genuine downward movement to Obama's numbers. After all, the president may very well bounce back by then, and all this wailing will look rather foolish.
You don't even need to wait that long, though, to question whether these two newspapers are right. In an impressive bit of procrustean writing, the Times tries to find a third survey that matches what they and the Post are seeing, observing that the "latest tracking poll from Gallup, also released Monday, showed Mr. Obama with an approval rating of 49 percent." That's almost unconscionably deceptive, since Gallup's numbers have been on a unmistakable upswing. Indeed, says Gallup: "Obama's current approval rating is the highest measured since early February, and before that the highest since June 2011."
You wouldn't know that from reading what the NYT has to say, of course. And with PPP's newest numbers for Daily Kos and SEIU, there are now two polls which say the president's job approvals have moved up, not down, in recent days. To be clear, I'm not insisting that we're necessarily right and they're wrong. The opposite could well be the case. My point is simply that there's no clear message being sent by this latest batch of polls, and any attempt to craft a narrative based on a mere two surveys?especially when they're contradicted by two other surveys?is simplistic at best and dangerous at worst.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the landmark piece of policy for Obama's first term. Save perhaps his response to the Great Recession, the ACA is likely to be the primary measure by which his presidency will be judged in the history books. As long as it is fully implemented, it should help millions of uninsured Americans by shifting more people onto Medicaid, providing subsidies for low-income workers, and forbidding insurance companies from excluding customers based on past illness.
The Obama campaign released an interactive flow chart yesterday. One inputs their demographic data?age, sex, and income, for example?and the program spits out various ways the ACA has improved your health-care coverage. As someone who has private insurance, it showed me a list of services my insurance will now be required to cover at no extra charge and highlighted the fact that 80 percent of my monthly payments must be used on funding health service. It also informed me that, thanks to my salary level, I will qualify for tax credits to help me pay for insurance, but not until 2014.
The chart is part of a wider media blitz from the president's re-election campaign on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the ACA's passage. It also comes shortly before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on law's constitutionality later this month. For all the attention heaped on the ACA as it snaked its way through Congress in 2009 and early 2010, it has largely receded to the background. That's because many of the main benefits won't be implemented until 2014, a budgetary move made to satisfy Blue Dog senators, who wanted to keep the price tag for legislation low during first ten years for imaging purposes. Its main innovations?a ban on pre-existing conditions, subsidies, and the health exchanges?won't go into effect until long after the next presidential election, putting Obama in the awkward position of touting benefits that will eventually improve their health care.