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Submission + - FEMA Will Require States to Examine Climate Risks in Disaster Planning (

mdsolar writes: The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced yesterday afternoon a change in its requirements for State Hazard Mitigation Plans that NRDC has been advocating for nearly three years. These plans, which states develop in order to prepare for future natural disasters, must now consider the projected effects of climate change on hazard risks.

Back in 2012, NRDC petitioned the agency to adopt this requirement because most states' plans did not account for climate change when assessing their future vulnerability to natural hazards. Yet as FEMA recognized yesterday, "the challenges posed by climate change, such as more intense storms, frequent heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, extreme flooding, and higher sea levels, could significantly alter the types and magnitudes of hazards impacting states in the future." It's critical that states begin to plan ahead for these changes and develop strategies to reduce the risk of harm to people and infrastructure.

Over a year ago, FEMA told us that it would be revising its guidance for State Hazard Mitigation Plans to require consideration of climate change, as we had asked. President Obama officially confirmed the change last summer, and in the fall FEMA published a document summarizing the revisions....

The new guidance is clear that in order for a state's plan to be approved by FEMA, thereby making the state eligible to receive federal funding for pre-disaster mitigation projects designed to build resilience, it must "include considerations of changing future conditions, including the effects of long-term changes in weather patterns and climate on the identified hazards...."

The new requirements will apply to plans that are submitted in March 2016 and beyond. This phase-in period allows states some time to begin integrating climate change information into their plans, if they haven't done so already.

Submission + - The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse. (

mdsolar writes: A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it....

That’s alarming, because the glacier holds back a much more vast catchment of ice that, were its vulnerable parts to flow into the ocean, could produce a sea level rise of more than 11 feet — which is comparable to the impact from a loss of the West Antarctica ice sheet. And that’s “a conservative lower limit,” says lead study author Jamin Greenbaum, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.

Submission + - Guardian petition for fossil fuel divestment receives 60,000 signatures (

mdsolar writes: In less than 24 hours, more than 60,000 readers have joined a campaign on the Guardian’s website asking the world’s largest charitable foundations – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from fossil fuels.

It was, in the words of one reader, “a big day in civic journalism”. The Guardian’s website and front page have never looked quite like it, as oil dripped down where the news would normally be.

Submission + - Japan utilities set to scrap five aging nuclear reactors (

mdsolar writes: Three aging nuclear reactors in Japan will be decommissioned due to the high cost of upgrading them in line with tougher safety standards set after the Fukushima disaster, their operators said on Tuesday.

Another two reactors were also likely to be scrapped, local media reports said, with announcements expected later in the week.

The moves are the first concrete sign that Japan's nuclear industry is heeding a government request to shut down older reactors that are considered more vulnerable to natural disasters in the hope that it will ease public concerns about a restart of other reactors.

All 48 of Japan's nuclear reactors were taken offline after an earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.

As many as two-thirds of the country's reactors may never return to operation because of high costs, local opposition or seismic risks, a Reuters analysis showed last year.

Comment Natural gas should be a strategic resoruce (Score 1) 190

We use natural gas in home heating and in ethanol production and in generating electricity, And, with CAFE standards increasing and oil production rising, we are within spitting distance of energy independence. It is hard to see how we could use anything close to half our natural gas production to produce gasoline when it supplies so much in other areas and there is such a small way to go to eliminate oil imports. But, the ability to do gas-to-liquid easily makes an even stronger case for restricting exports of natural gas just as we do with oil and recognizing natural gas as a strategic resource.

As a strategic resource, we should build enough LNG export capacity in the US and enough import capacity in NATO to displace Russian gas supplies, and then let that sit idle. This would be similar to Israel having dibs on our strategic petroleum reserve. Russia would treat our allies much better as natural gas customers if we could take away their market at any time they put the squeeze on.

Submission + - NASA wants your help hunting for asteroids

An anonymous reader writes: Since the early 20th century, astronomers have relied on the same technique to detect asteroids — they take images of a section in the sky and look for star-like objects that move between frames. However, with an increase in sensitivity of ground-based telescopes, it has become increasingly difficult for astronomers to sift through the massive pile of data and verify every single detection. In order to increase the frequency of asteroid detection, including of those bodies that could be potential threats to our planet, NASA has released new software, developed in collaboration with Planetary Resources, Inc., capable of running on any standard PC. The software, which can be downloaded for free, will accept images from a telescope and run an algorithm on them to determine celestial bodies that are moving in a manner consistent with an asteroid.

Submission + - Helping poor countries tackle climate change is affordable (

mdsolar writes: Rich countries would not need to spend more than two per cent of their GDP by 2050 to help developing nations cut their carbon emissions, new analysis from London's Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change has suggested.

Developed countries have already agreed to provide an additional $100bn a year by 2020 to help poorer countries reduce their carbon emissions and adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

However, the new study warns significantly more funding will be needed over the coming decades to help poorer nations cope with climate impacts. The report, which has been submitted for peer review to the Climate Policy journal, uses a number of sophisticated economic models to conclude that rich countries would need to give at least $400bn, and as much as $2tr, to the 'global south' each year to help them cope with the demands of tackling climate change.

But it argues that even this massive commitment would not equate to more than one to two per cent of rich countries' GDP.

"The cost to high-income countries, while substantial, is not likely to be prohibitive," the document states.

Comment Moral bankruptcy (Score 3, Interesting) 190

All of the fossil fuels run on science. There is geology and chemistry and pollution control and how to make oil flow in a pipeline. If you school won't invest in fossil fuels, there is a chance you won't consider working for them either. The engineering and science may not get done as quickly and the industry may slow as a result of moral objections.

Going the speed of light is bad for your age.