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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


“IF YOUR ACTIONS INSPIRE OTHERS TO DREAM MORE, LEARN MORE, DO MORE & BECOME MORE, YOU ARE A LEADER.”

– John Quincy Adams
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But America cannot ask for others to apply to transparency rules it does not have itself: The issue of shell companies that acquire rights to extract minerals and oil & gas.

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“Chesapeake’s effort to hide its involvement isn’t illegal. To the contrary, the company’s maneuvering exemplifies how U.S. corporations routinely can conceal financial and corporate transactions through the use of shell companies. President Barack Obama has called on other nations to improve corporate transparency, but under state laws governing corporate formation in America, privately held businesses aren’t required to disclose the individuals or companies who really own them.”

Why should other government be serious about their own infringement of transparency decency if the US itself does not obey to rules it asks for others to apply to?

Energy Giant Hid Behind Shell Companies in ‘Land Grab.’

By Joshua Schneyer and Brian Grow, Reuters

31 December 11

 www.readersupportednews.org/news-…

ate in the summer of 2010, hundreds of farmers in northern Michigan were fuming.

All had signed leases with local brokers permitting drillers to tap natural gas and oil beneath their land. All were demanding thousands of dollars in bonuses they had been promised in exchange. But none knew for certain whom to go after.

That’s because the company rejecting their leases hadn’t signed them to begin with. In fact, the company issuing the rejections wasn’t much of a business at all. It was a shell company – a paper-only firm with no real operations – called Northern Michigan Exploration LLC.

One jilted land owner, Eric Boyer-Lashuay, called to complain to the broker who had handled his lease. Northern, he recalls saying, is “a shell company … a blank door with no one behind it.”

Today, he puts it this way: “It was all a fake, all a scam.”

Northern has voided hundreds of land deals, and was indeed a facade – a shell company created so that one of America’s largest energy companies could conceal its role in the leasing spree, a Reuters investigation has found. Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s second-largest gas driller, was behind the entire operation.

Chesapeake had created one shell company that set up another, Northern Michigan Exploration. Next, Northern hired brokers who signed leases with residents such as Boyer-Lashuay. And those brokers were under strict orders not to divulge Chesapeake’s role, records reviewed by Reuters show.

In fact, the effort in Michigan was directed from the very top – by Chesapeake’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon. In corporate filings that Chesapeake made public earlier this year – nine months after McClendon’s agents began signing Michigan land leases – McClendon is named as the chief executive officer of Northern, the shell company that voided hundreds of those leases.

Chesapeake’s effort to hide its involvement isn’t illegal. To the contrary, the company’s maneuvering exemplifies how U.S. corporations routinely can conceal financial and corporate transactions through the use of shell companies.

President Barack Obama has called on other nations to improve corporate transparency, but under state laws governing corporate formation in America, privately held businesses aren’t required to disclose the individuals or companies who really own them.

Chesapeake’s own website advises land owners that their “main consideration” before leasing should be “to discover who will ultimately be producing your minerals.” But Chesapeake’s strategy made that extremely difficult for the Michigan land owners.

Legal scholars say the operation serves as an intriguing test case of the use of shell companies.

The tactics “raise moral and ethical questions about how entities can be used,” says Joshua Fershee, a contract law professor at the University of North Dakota.

Others, including Chesapeake, defend the need to use shell companies and front companies – contractors with local ties who do business on behalf of a larger corporation. John Lowe, a professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University, calls it “business as usual.”

“Shells aren’t just a device to pull the wool over land owners’ eyes,” Lowe says. “You have to weigh some of the unfortunate cases against the fact that these companies can facilitate doing business, making it easier and probably cheaper to obtain leases. If I were a regulator, I’m not sure I’d change anything or try to limit the use of shells.”

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, says he will be “arguing for some intervention” to control the use of shell companies in such deals.

“Private property owners who enter into these transactions with good faith shouldn’t be getting duped by a front company,” says Grijalva, a member of the House Committee for Natural Resources. “It’s deception and you can’t call it anything else. It’s a good example where the intervention of government to require disclosure and binding contracts is needed.”

Intent to Renege?

The effort to secure leasing rights in Michigan was part of Chesapeake’s national “land grab,” a term the company has used in its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Chesapeake’s Michigan land rush quickly ended. In court this month, lawyers for land owners alleged that lease agreements were voided after Chesapeake learned a well it drilled in the state had come up dry.

Bonuses promised to land owners went unpaid, according to court documents submitted by lawyers for the land owners. Northern Michigan Exploration, the Chesapeake-affiliated shell company, rejected more than 97 percent of the leases its Michigan agents had signed with farmers and other land owners, the documents allege.

More than 800 Michigan land owners – many of them elderly farmers – had their leases terminated by Northern, Reuters found.

As a consequence, owners missed opportunities to lease their land to other oil firms. At least 115 have sued, alleging that Chesapeake breached their contracts and defrauded them. On average, they each had been expecting $95,000 in bonuses, those lawsuits show.

The near-blanket cancellation of the contracts raises the question of whether Chesapeake ever intended to pay if it failed to find oil or gas immediately, says Mark Gergen, a contract law professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school.

“It suggests they might have had a strategy going in of not honoring their agreements,” he says. “The shells would have facilitated that” because Chesapeake could blame the shells for the cancellations, suffering no damage to its reputation.

Chesapeake says it acted properly. It says some land owners were paid bonuses. It also disputes “canceling” any Michigan contracts; rather, some contracts were “rejected” because property titles didn’t pass muster, its corporate counsel says.

In written responses, Chesapeake says it sometimes uses shell companies to “keep a low profile” and avoid tipping off competitors and “speculators” about its land-leasing and drilling efforts. Such tactics are common in real estate, scholars say.

But now, Chesapeake also is using shells as a legal defense to shield itself against land-owner lawsuits. The energy giant has said in court that it was Northern Michigan Exploration, not Chesapeake, that canceled the leases.

If land owners prove that they should have been paid, at issue is who will be held accountable: Chesapeake, a corporation with $37 billion in assets, or Northern, a shell company with no publicly documented assets.

“If Chesapeake knew from the start there was a good chance it would renege on leases and used (Northern) to avoid liability, that is improper,” says North Dakota law professor Fershee.

The burden now rests with lawyers for the land owners to prove that – to not only demonstrate that Chesapeake was directing the shell companies but also to show that Chesapeake used the shells to commit fraud.

Staying Hidden

To understand the role shell companies play in Chesapeake’s business, Reuters reviewed hundreds of pages of lease agreements, rejection letters and contracts, and more than a thousand pages of court records.

Reporters also interviewed more than three dozen land owners, lawyers and “landmen,” those who scout for areas rich with oil and gas and strike deals with land owners.

The northern part of Michigan has a long history of smalltime drilling. But the three-month land-leasing frenzy here last year was driven by speculation that the state’s Collingwood Shale area might hold large amounts of oil and natural gas.

In recent years, shale drilling has created the biggest grab for resources in the U.S. since the California Gold Rush. Thousands of so-called “shaleonaires” have grown rich by leasing their land and collecting royalties from gushers.

Chesapeake is the single biggest player in that rush, employing about 4,500 landmen. Its CEO, McClendon, started his career as an oil landman, as did former President George W. Bush.

Chesapeake says it has paid more than $9 billion for land leases. Its holdings include about 15 million acres in at least 23 states – a drilling area nearly the size of Ireland. Since 2008, Chesapeake has raised $13 billion by selling off a portion of those leases to energy firms as far away as China and Australia.

The business is risky. Chesapeake often slips into a shale play early, committing hundreds of millions of dollars before it knows whether wells in the area will be gushers or dry holes.

Risky Profile

The company’s filings show it spent $6.95 billion acquiring “unproved” properties last year, more than double what it spent the previous year.

Such huge spending, coupled with U.S. natural-gas prices at 27-month lows, underscores Chesapeake’s aggressive financial risk profile, according to Standard & Poor’s. It rates Chesapeake’s corporate debt BB+, a category considered junk status.

Some analysts balk at the difficulty of following the company’s land transactions, including deals made through shell companies. The use of shells can make the moves hard to trace in financial statements.

In October, Reuters asked Chesapeake about its land-leasing in Michigan. In a written response, Chesapeake said then that it had spent about $400 million to acquire leases there, a figure it has neither disclosed nor is required to disclose in SEC filings. Company spokesman Michael Kehs declined to answer other questions submitted this month.

Left unanswered: Whether shell companies affiliated with Chesapeake have any assets.

“There are red flags when it comes to Chesapeake’s transparency, convoluted ownership of shell entities and transactions shareholders can’t see,” says Phil Weiss, an equities analyst with Argus in New York, who downgraded the firm’s shares to ‘sell’ on November 16. “I’d never know what happened in Michigan by looking at Chesapeake’s filings.”

Shell of a Shell

Chesapeake’s land strategy was pieced together in part from documents that emerged in the Michigan lawsuits. Since early in the legal fight, Chesapeake has denied it conducted business in Michigan. It also denied that Northern, the shell company that voided leases en masse, was its “wholly owned subsidiary.”

For months, plaintiffs’ lawyers couldn’t figure out how Chesapeake could seemingly deny direct control of Northern. The answer lies behind the corporate veil of shell companies.

Chesapeake doesn’t directly own Northern; rather, Northern was incorporated by another shell company – one that Chesapeake owns and had created a year earlier. That firm, LA Land Acquisition, is the beginning of a complicated chain of shells and front companies – local contractors – operating on Chesapeake’s behalf:

* In April 2009, Chesapeake begat LA Land Acquisition Corp., a Delaware entity with no discernible assets.

* A year later, in April 2010, LA Land formed Northern Michigan Exploration, another shell company with no known assets.

* Northern subsequently hired a local land-lease company, O.I.L. Niagaran.

* O.I.L. then hired another local company, Western Land. Both O.I.L. and Western negotiated with land owners here.

The firms agreed not to disclose the energy giant’s role to land owners, according to a May 2010 contract between Chesapeake and O.I.L. and other records reviewed by Reuters.

In incorporation papers filed in Michigan, Northern’s address is listed as the office of a law firm in Lansing. John Pirich, a Lansing lawyer listed in state records as the representative of Northern, declined comment.

The connection between Chesapeake, LA Land and Northern appears in a February 8 SEC filing, made public five months after Michigan land owners first filed suit. It shows that LA Land, which lists McClendon as a director, is the “sole member” or owner of Northern, which lists McClendon as its CEO.

Chesapeake didn’t say why it used multiple intermediaries in Michigan. Lawyers say layers of shell and front companies can be used to cap liability when the companies behind the shells face lawsuits.

“The shells can complicate and delay things,” says Gergen, the Berkeley law professor. “Chesapeake is probably betting that plaintiffs won’t have sufficient resources or staying power to collect.”

Drilling Race

Last year, Chesapeake was competing for land in Michigan with the Canadian driller EnCana. In May 2010, EnCana announced that it had already leased 250,000 acres in the state.

Sue Brown, who owns 370 acres near Cheboygan, Mich., was bombarded with offers. “Landmen swooped in on this area like hornets out of hell,” Brown says. “They’d be waiting in my driveway, completely paranoid that I was going to sign with somebody else.”

That month, she and her husband were among the earliest farmers to sign a lease with a local broker working on behalf of Chesapeake. They received a $500-per-acre bonus.

Brown’s contract featured a non-disclosure clause, forbidding her from revealing her offer to neighbors. She had no idea Chesapeake was behind it. The lease has been honored, she says.

As the frenzy intensified in June 2010, some Michigan bonuses rose to $3,000 an acre, up 200-fold from before the boom. Chesapeake’s decision to remain hidden may have been a legitimate attempt to keep prices from going even higher, some experts say.

“It’s common to take leases through a shell corporation or through a landman company,” says Lowe, the professor of energy law at SMU’s Dedman Law School in Dallas. “If you’re a farmer or a rancher and you see a big, deep-pocketed oil company pull up in your driveway, then your price goes up.”

‘Dry Hole’, Abrupt Shift

After prices surged in Michigan, EnCana decided in July 2010 to pare back its leasing effort, a company spokesman says. According to allegations in several lawsuits against Chesapeake, CEO McClendon looked to take advantage of the opening.

He began to aggressively renegotiate or delay the completion of his own Michigan deals, the lawsuits allege.

The lawsuits by Michigan land owners also suggest a specific reason why Chesapeake’s interest cooled: Through an affiliate, Chesapeake drilled an exploratory well in Michigan last July that came up dry. Chesapeake has not publicly disclosed the drilling results and declined to comment on the matter. But in the weeks after the exploratory well was drilled, Chesapeake’s shell-within-a-shell – Northern – began rejecting leases en masse, letters sent to land owners show.

In some cases, Northern claimed that land owners missed a signing deadline, even though landmen had told them when to sign. Leslie and Sarah Schrier, a farming couple in their 80s who live near Brutus, Mich., had their lease voided weeks after a landman and a notary public drove to their farm to watch them sign ahead of the deadline, they say.

Also affected was John O’Hair, a former judge and chief county prosecutor in Detroit. He leased his 140-acre family farm in Antrim County, Mich., to O.I.L. in a contract that offered an $84,000 signing bonus. If successful wells were drilled, the O’Hairs would receive 12.5 percent royalties.

O’Hair had leased the same land to O.I.L. a few years earlier without a hitch. This time, months passed and no bonus check arrived.

O’Hair complained to O.I.L.’s president, Dwain Provins. The response: O.I.L. was working for another firm, whose name and role were secret, O’Hair recalls. That firm had voided the lease, he was told, because one of O’Hair’s in-laws appeared to own a stake in his property. Provins declined comment.

“It was a completely bogus claim,” says O’Hair, 82. “I’d leased the land previously to O.I.L. with no issues.”

More months passed before O’Hair learned the truth from lawyers he had hired: O.I.L. was doing the bidding of Northern and Chesapeake.

By August 10, 2010, transcripts from court hearings show, at least one of Chesapeake’s middlemen in Michigan seemed regretful that he had entered into business with the company.

The broker, David W. McGuire of O.I.L. Niagaran, voiced concern about Chesapeake’s directives, court records indicate. He told McClendon that Chesapeake was asking O.I.L. to default on contracts that Chesapeake never intended to pay, according to the court records.

McGuire told McClendon that he had “never been put in a position like this,” court records show. His comments were recounted in court this month by lawyers representing land owners.

McGuire did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

Letters Connect Shell, Cheaspeake

By mid-August, Northern began sending out rejection letters to land owners. Many were signed by the man listed as Northern’s “senior landman,” David W. Bolton. He also was a landman for Chesapeake itself. In an email exchange with local brokers, he used the address dave.bolton@chk.com– a Chesapeake address. He’s also on a 2010 list of Chesapeake employees.

Bolton did not respond to email or phone messages requesting comment.

The lease-termination letters from Northern were a giant ruse, says Kevin Koonce, a landman who worked for a Chesapeake contractor in Michigan.

Koonce says he worked in Michigan from September to November 2010. He wasn’t there to lease land. By the time he arrived, Koonce says, Chesapeake’s strategy was to abandon leases it had already signed.

“Our instructions were to flunk the title if there was a word misspelled,” Koonce says. He says he decided to speak publicly about the situation because he objected to the approach.

Emails reviewed by Reuters show Koonce’s firm was fired in December 2010 for not signing any land owners to drilling leases in another state. He has filed an affidavit on behalf of Michigan land owners who are seeking to collect on their leases.

Koonce says his instructions to flunk leases came from a supervisor at another broker working for Chesapeake in Michigan. Koonce says he and eight other brokers participated in a conference call on October 27, 2010, with the supervisor. During the call, he says, they were ordered to speed up the rate of lease cancellations.

Neither the supervisor nor the other brokers on the call responded to emails requesting comment, and Chesapeake declined to comment on Koonce or his allegations.

One land owner whose lease was rejected was Mildred Lutz, a 93-year-old widow who lives near Alanson, Mich. She says she was told her $97,000 bonus wouldn’t be paid because her late husband didn’t sign the lease and the family trust, which owned the land, is in both her name and her husband’s. Never mind that the landman drafted the lease in July 2010 – a month after her husband’s death.

“He knew my husband had passed away and I would be the sole owner of my property,” Lutz says. Chesapeake’s lawyers have said the Lutz lease had clear formatting and title flaws.

In its letters to land owners, Northern offered several reasons for voiding leases: disputes over property ownership; improper formatting of leases; and claims that properties fall outside a geographic target area.

In some cases, Northern claimed that land owners had missed a signing deadline, even though they signed leases at a time and place specified by the company’s leasing agents.

In scores of other letters, Northern says leases were void because of “unsubordinated” mortgages on property. That means a property – like the approximately 70 percent of U.S. real estate that is mortgaged – isn’t owned free-and-clear.

In a written statement, Chesapeake general counsel Henry Hood says a mortgage is a valid title defect “if the mortgage pre-dates the lease and is not expressly subject to and subordinate to the lease.” In previous filings with the SEC, Chesapeake said it generally scrutinized titles late in the process, before drilling, and not before paying out bonuses.

Chesapeake’s main competitor in Michigan, EnCana, told Reuters that it honored the vast majority of leases it signed in the state and has faced no lawsuits that allege it reneged on any leases there.

EnCana “very rarely” voids any lease it has signed, spokesman Alan Boras says.

Low Prices, Good Deals

As Northern continued to reject leases, another company emerged in late October and went on a Michigan land-buying spree.

The hundreds of rejected leases had depressed land prices from the summertime high, and a company called Crystal Lake Resources became one of the top buyers of public land at a state auction on October 26, 2010.

The state land up for auction was also in the Collingwood Shale formation, not far from the land that Northern no longer wanted to lease from private land owners.

According to records from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Crystal Lake bought drilling rights on 30,000 acres for $20.97 an acre. That’s a 99 percent discount on the price promised to some land owners whose leases were canceled by Northern.

Incorporation records show Crystal Lake was formed on October 25, 2010, a day before the public auction. Its Lansing address is the same as Northern’s, the Chesapeake shell company that had been canceling private leases.

In a response to one Michigan lawsuit, Crystal Lake Resources is identified as a lease buyer for Northern.

In the months since its Michigan buys, Crystal Lake has also been busy signing land leases in at least one North Dakota county.

There, in Hettinger County, clerk Sylvia Gion says Crystal Lake’s leases have been assigned to one company: Chesapeake.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 31st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Unexpected OCTOBER HALLOWEEN CANCELING WEATHER ATTACK ON THE US EAST COAST: According to state governments and utilities, at least three million customers lost power along New England in the US.. More than 400,000 customers lost power across New York State at the storm’s peak, and most remained without electricity at midday Sunday, with the greatest damage in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. More damage in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

People trudging through stores in search of sold-out supplies had little time to meditate on CLIMATE CHANGE . They talked more about how recent storms — the ice storm of 2008 in New Hampshire and Tropical Storm Irene in New Jersey — had prompted them to buy generators and left them better prepared.

But scholars began marshaling their arguments to remind people that single storms, no matter how dramatic, say little about overall climate patterns.

Robert Stavin, an economist at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said a surprise winter storm no more disproved climate change than a hot day in August proved it.

But larger patterns of extreme storms and precipitation, even if accompanied by cold snaps, support the theory of global warming, he and several climate researchers said, because warming oceans are sending more moisture into the air.

Doubters of above – from among conventional economists or out of their water scientists, not just oil industry paid-for lobbyists, will just continue to make it harder for even a good US President to take the needed steps to change the focus of research policy in order to move to a post-fossil fuels future.

The storm struck trees of all ages and sizes in New York City’s Central Park: oaks and elms outside the boathouse, birches and dogwoods near Belvedere Castle, magnolias and mulberries beside the obelisk. The damage was spread across about half of Central Park’s 840 acres, making it the worst devastation that Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, had seen in his 27 years there.

In all, as many as 1,000 of the park’s trees may be lost to the freak October snowstorm; in contrast, Tropical Storm Irene — which work crews only recently finished cleaning up after — cost the park 125 trees. “It’s like a bomb blew off,” Mr. Blonsky said, as he conducted a site survey of the park on Sunday. He looked out his car window at a 70-foot oak tree, near the park’s southeast entrance. Only a jagged stump remained. “Fall colors were just starting to kick in,” he said.

Even the most durable trees struggled to cope. The broad, rough leaves of a London plane tree, Mr. Calvanese said, made it particularly vulnerable to snow accumulation and, consequently, branch fractures. “It’s a resilient tree,” Mr. Calvanese said, sounding like a coach defending his players after a difficult loss. “They really do hold up well.”

The storm may be a death knell for apple-picking season at Hager Brothers’ small orchard in Shelburne Falls, Mass.

With temperatures expected in the teens, “that’ll probably be the end of what we can pick off our trees,” said Bethany Miles, who was working at the orchard store.

The wedding of Christine and Ryan Hubbard on Saturday night in Worcester — with pumpkins and flowers in warm, deep colors — was aiming for a crisp autumn look but ended up with an aesthetic that was more frigid slush.

“If somebody looks at our wedding pictures, they’re going to think that we got married in December,” Ms. Hubbard said.

The New York Times

For further details of actual damage please look at –

Cleaning Up After Nature Plays a Trick, by ANNE BARNARD and SARAH MASLIN NIR, 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

October 7, 2011, Atonement Day Eve – The 99% SILENT Public – Albeit still on the OP-ED or “ROOM for DEBATE” Pages.

New York Times OPINION PAGE – 

ROOM FOR DEBATE

Is It Effective to Occupy Wall Street?

The protesters are getting more attention and expanding outside New York. What are they doing right, and what are they missing?

———————————–

New York Times OP-ED COLUMNIST

Confronting the Malefactors

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

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Watching Washington the HOME NEWS are:

“To allay the concerns of Senate Democrats, Mr. Obama said that he could support their proposal to pay for the jobs plan by imposing a 5.6 percent surtax on individual taxpayers’ income above $1 million. A number of Senate Democrats had objected to Mr. Obama’s proposals to offset the cost of his plan by limiting tax deductions, including for charitable contributions, that could be taken by individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. And oil-state Democrats opposed his plans to increase oil companies’ taxes.

Even as Mr. Obama took reporters’ questions, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, rebuked him for his more confrontational tack. “Nothing has disappointed me more than what’s happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading and spend full-time campaigning,” Mr. Boehner said during a public forum in Washington.

Mr. Obama, when asked by a reporter whether he should be talking to Congressional Republicans rather than traveling the country like a presidential candidate, responded that he had tried repeatedly to compromise with Republicans. His efforts, he said, were “sometimes to my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats,” and Republicans rebuffed him even when he offered ideas, like business tax cuts, that Republicans had proposed in the past.”

“What I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake,” he said. “It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” Mr. Obama said.


THAT IS STILL THE NORM OF HOME PAGES NEWS REPORTING  — AS GOOD AS IT GETS  –

Making Case for Jobs Bill, Obama Cites Europe’s Woes.

 Why look at the woes of Europe when there is plenty to see in the US itself?
PLEASE CHECK OUT THOSE OIL INDUSTRY ELECTED RESIDENTS OF US CONGRESS!

===========================================================================

NOW THIS! From – www.alternet.org  New York spread Liberty to Washington DC:

Protesters began their occupation of Freedom Plaza, WASHINGTON D.C.,  on October 6 — and they plan on staying as long as it takes.

The Occupy Freedom Plaza protest in Washington DC kicked off on Thursday, October 6. The protesters were a diverse crowd; young and old, men and women, the jobless and the employed, all in solidarity with one another and those occupying cities across the country in protest of the corporate greed that has destroyed the lives of so many Americans.

Cancer survivor Carrie Stone said that over the course of nine days, she traveled from Wallace, West Virginia to Washington, DC by foot. The 56-year-old grandmother plans to stay in DC indefinitely, saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 20th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As September 22,2011 approaches, many wait to learn if the United Nations will midwife a newborn or a stillborn Palestinian state.

Were the U.N. General Assembly to support this bid for statehood, would the Palestinians be winners or losers?

Will the Arab states welcome this development or limit themselves to the customary lip service while tacitly aborting the Palestinian move?

How will the Netanyahu government respond? How energetic will the Obama administration come down?

Newly appointed Middle East Forum director Efraim Karsh examines these and related issues and looks at the broader implications of the diplomatic maneuver.

Efraim Karsh is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, and now director of the academic Middle East Forum (Philadelphia) . He was the founding director of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Program at King’s College. He is also founding editor of the journal Israel Affairs.

His book, Palestine Betrayed (Yale 2010), makes the case that Palestinians have been the long-suffering victims of both their own leadership and the Arab regimes.

Mr. Karsh is also editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

Mr. Karsh is the author of fifteen books, including Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale 2007), and Arafat’s War (Grove 2003); and has contributed over 100 articles to leading newspapers and magazines, including theDaily TelegraphInternational Herald TribuneLondon Times, New Republic, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.


————————

{WHY} There Is No Palestinian State.

{the “why” is our addition}

by Efraim Karsh
The Daily Beast
September 16, 2011

www.meforum.org/3046/no-palestinian-state

As the United Nations prepares to vote next week on the issue of Palestinian statehood, it might be worth bearing in mind that whatever the outcome, the result will certainly not be the creation of an actual Palestinian state, any more than the November 1947 partition resolution spelled the inevitable creation of a Jewish one.

In 1948, Israel came into being due to the extraordinary cohesion of Palestine’s Jewish community (the Yishuv). Armed with an unwavering sense of purpose and an extensive network of institutions, the Yishuv managed to surmount a bevy of international obstacles and fend off a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Likewise, it was the total lack of communal solidarity—the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good—that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society as its leaders tried to subvert partition.

Sixty-four years later, Palestinian society seems no better prepared for statehood. And the U.N. would be doing the Palestinians a great disservice by accepting the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority as its newest member. While this would hardly be the first failed state to be delivered by the world organization, the unique circumstances of its possible birth make failure a foregone conclusion, and the consequences are too dire to contemplate.

The building of the Jewish state began in the Swiss town of Basel in 1889 at the First Zionist Congress, which defined Zionism’s goal as “the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law,” and established institutions to promote it. By the time the League of Nations appointed Britain as the mandatory for Palestine 23 years later, the Yishuv had been transformed into a cohesive and organized national community that provided most of Palestine’s Jewry with work, trade union protection as well as with education, health care, and defense.

By contrast, it was the tragedy of the Palestinians that the two leaders who determined their national development during the 20th century—Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat—were far more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than leading their own people. As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state. Once given control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza, this prognosis became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as his regime quickly became oppressive and corrupt. Later it helped launch the second intifada, the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war. In the process, he destroyed the fragile civil society and relatively productive economy that had developed during the previous decade.

Paradoxically, it was Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the June 1967 war that laid the groundwork for Palestinian civil society. Not only did it bring the issue of Palestinian independence to the forefront of the international agenda, but it also produced dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life. During the occupation, the territories became the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world—ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. From 1967 to 2000, life expectancy rose from 48 to 72, while infant mortality fell from 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 births in 2000. And while there was not a single university that existed in the West Bank or Gaza before Israeli rule, by the mid-1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting more than 16,000 students.

All of these achievements were steadily undone after Oslo, as Arafat’s regime took control over parts of the territories. In September of 1993, conditions in the West Bank and Gaza were still better than those in most neighboring Arab states—and this despite the economic decline caused by the first intifada. Within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza, the standard of living in the strip fell by 25 percent, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israeli rule. The launch of the second intifada six years later dealt the death blow to the economic and institutional gains that Israel bequeathed.

In an apparent departure from this destructive path, in the summer of 2007, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on the first true state-building effort in Palestinian history. And he has had some modest successes, most notably a sustained economic recovery that has nearly restored the West Bank’s pre-intifada levels of performance. Yet Fayyad has created no new institutions, and the PA remains a corrupt and wholly dysfunctional organization. The Palestinian prime minister may claim to have laid the groundwork for a democratic Palestine, but the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, and by extension his own position, are totally unconstitutional. Not only did Abbas defy Hamas’s landslide victory in the January 2006 parliamentary election, but Abbas’s presidency expired more than two years ago.

No less important, the two factions dominating Palestinian life, the Hamas and Fatah, remain armed groups, and active practitioners of terrorism—an assured recipe for a failed state. The Oslo Accords charged the PA to dismantle all armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, but Arafat never complied; David Ben-Gurion, by contrast, dissolved all Jewish underground movements within a fortnight from Israel’s independence, incorporating them into the newly established Israeli Defense Forces. Following statehood, even if Abbas were to make a genuine commitment to reform, Hamas would continue to defy his tenuous authority; not only does the group rule the Gaza Strip, which it has transformed into an Islamist micro-state, but it also wields considerable power in the West Bank.

Small wonder that recent surveys show that more Palestinians in east Jerusalem, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian one. Two thirds of them believe that a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence backed by the U.N. would have no positive effect. And they’re right. Unfortunately the ramifications—increased conflict with Israel and a deepening rift in an already divided Palestinian society—are manifold. Once again, the Palestinian leadership is leading its people astray.

———————————-

Professor Karsh’s conclusion :

Having failed to lay the groundwork for a viable homeland, Palestinian leaders are once again leading their people astray.

in  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/16/there-is-no-palestinian-state.html

Frenzied negotiations are underway on all sides as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prepares to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Arab League Tuesday that Palestinian statehood is “not an option, but an obligation,” and a high-ranking EU official told the same group that Europe has not reached any firm position on the vote. Israel is hoping diplomatic string-pulling can avert the vote, and the country’s U.N. ambassador said Israel knew it would have to “sit down with the Palestinian Authority in direct negotiations in order to bridge the problems.” The U.S. is expected to oppose the statehood proposal if it comes to a vote at the U.N., but fears other nations will circumvent its veto. Obama is pressing both sides to come to an agreement before the vote.

Read it at The Daily BeastSeptember 13, 2011 1:17 PM

—————————–

See also The Washington Post – September 13, 2011:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/once-again-israel-is-scapegoated/2011/09/12/gIQAEJPvNK_story.html?tid=obnetwork

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011,  US Atlantic Coast refiner Sunoco announced its plans to exit the refining business by

unloading its “unprofitable” refineries in Philadelphia and Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. These

refineries have a combined crude oil distillation capacity of over 500 kbd, and Sunoco has stated that

if no buyers emerge for the facilities, they will idle the main processing units in July 2012. Over the

course of this year, refiners on the US Atlantic Coast, especially those such as Sunoco with

equipment designed to process mostly light, low sulfur crude oil, have struggled with depressed

domestic demand for their products and increasingly dear prices for their raw materials. The rising

cost of these quality barrels has been the largest factor souring Sunoco’s profits. Light sweet crude

oil prices have been driven both by the cutoff of Libyan supply and increased global demand for

streams to process into transportation fuels, particularly from Chinese refiners. For now, it is still

business as usual for Sunoco and the market will likely continue to see volumes move to the US

Atlantic Coast. The closure of Sunoco’s Pennsylvania refineries, if it does occur, would have an

impact on the Suezmax trade in the Atlantic Basin but could result in an increased ton?mile effect as

barrels are increasingly pulled to Eastern outlets.

—————

Sunoco’s announcement comes at the heels of decisions by other American oil companies, notably
Marathon and ConocoPhillips, to disintegrate their refining businesses.
—-
Sunoco has declared its intent to sell their assets, but also indicated that it could be difficult to find buyers
in the current
market. Nobody knows what is going to happen in Pennsylvania quite yet, and given the uncertainty
of today’s market, it is likely that a firm decision may only come at the 11th hour. Sunoco’s refineries
have some capacity to process higher sulfur crudes, but would have to undergo major refitting to be
able to process heavier or sour streams. Investment in retooling the plants would be a gamble as
global crude oil markets could unexpectedly change, narrowing or reversing discounts for lower
quality crude oils. Additionally, the process itself would likely be expensive and riddled with
regulatory hurdles.
Right now, the prevailing view is that Sunoco’s parts are more valuable than its whole.
However, the crude oil pricing structure has reversed in the past based on relative availability
of various crude oil grades.  Making major corporate restructures on the back of crude oil prices
and
shifty differentials can be a risky business.
———————-
For full article please see: http://www.poten.com/Document.aspx?id=20628&filename=Importing%20is%20Light%20Sweet%20Sorrow.pdf

Sunoco June Crude Oil Imports by Country of Origin.
West African streams  accounted for 69% of Sunoco’s  June import. {even here the latest upheaval in Nigeria is making this sourcing uncertain – our comment}
Brazil          —   7%
Canada        —   5%
Norway        — 11%
Azerbaijan  —  8%
Angola         —  14%
Cameroon   —  7%
Nigeria         —  48%

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Cover

Page2

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The notion of a politician taking a paycheck from a news organization before mounting a presidential bid isn’t totally new. Pat Buchanan hosted CNN’s “Crossfire” in the 1990s in between GOP primary campaigns and certainly used the national platform to his advantage in the years before Fox News achieved its current status.

Buchanan, the populist Republican, in an interview, said now the rule should be: “As soon as you come close to declaring or declare, you’re gone.”In the 1996 campaign Buchanan made his final appearance as a “Crossfire” host in February 1995 and then announced his candidacy the next month.

Now a paid MSNBC contributor, Buchanan said, “We’re in a dramatically different era now.”

Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman and CEO and Buchanan’s old colleague from the 1968 Richard Nixon campaign, has good financial reasons, besides political reasons, to trash the concept of a media outlet responsibility to present honest news.

The idea of  Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all making moves indicating they may run for president, and their common employer – Fox News – beg a question that hasn’t been asked before: How does a news organization cover White House hopefuls when so many are on the payroll?

Four prospects — all in the Conservative-Republican corner – and especially the former Alaska governor — facing media questions only on Fox News – a network that both pays them and offers limited scrutiny has already become a matter of frustration in the political and journalistic community — and not just among those the intensely competitive Fox is typically quick to dismiss as jealous rivals.

Read more: www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42745.html#ixzz18RYZiyjX

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Mayor of Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, China came to New York City at the head of a high-level seven member city delegation. I just listened at the Asia Society in New York City to three hours of cross presentations – from the Zhenjiang side and from various US cities – New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The interesting thing that while this was going on in New York City, at the same time, in Cancun at the UNFCCC Conference, cities had also the podium in respect to Urban areas in low- and middle-income nations being home to a third of the world’s population.

Many of these nations already now face the greatest global risk from sea-level rise, and changes in frequency and intensity of events such as heat waves and storms. The interesting part was that though all these problems were mentioned at the New York City meeting, the actual larger parallel events at Cancun were not mentioned at all. This spoke miles to me in what concerns Cancun, and we heard plenty of how cities in China and in the US look at climate events. The case of a deputy Mayor of Florida, who does not believe in climate change, was mentioned by the Mayor of Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Mayor had no problem touting that poor soul that does not realize that his city’s future is at stake.

Many of the cities experience rapid and ongoing growth and urban areas require particular attention when considering effects of climate change and related adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Zhenjiang is located between two major metropolises, Nanjing and Shanghai, and all road traffics connecting these two cities pass Zhenjiang. The railway, Jinghu Railway (Beijing-Nanjing-Shanghai), passes the city and Zhenjiang Railway Station is among the busiest passenger stations in Jiangsu, having 139 trains stopping daily. T-Trains take only 45 min to Nanjing and an hour and a half to Shanghai. By the new intercity light railway, the journey to Shanghai takes only 50 minutes.

Huning (Shanghai-Nanjing) Expressway is a major road transportation artery, connecting Shanghai and Nanjing and other cities between them, including Zhenjiang.

Zhenjiang Port is one of major ports along the Yangtze River and its water network, including the Grand Canal to Beijing, the Yangtze River, and numerous further rivers provide the city a convenient waterway for cargo and passenger transportation.

The city numbers now 3.12 million people of whom 26% are migrants from the country-side or from other parts of China. The fast development will increase the number of migrants to 55% by 2020. For all of China, the total number of migrants will reach 250 million and be larger then the population of the US.

Zhenjiang is on  an Economic & Technological Development Zone of China (ETD). The reason for this mission to New York was to have this exchange – of learning from the experience in the US and show-casing achievements and present some future programs that might benefit from cooperation with Americans. My intention is not to enlarge on the potential for co-operation that could result from the parallel presentation of nice architectural achievements by Americans. I want only to mention something that was said in half joke by Tom Murphy from The New York Urban Land Institute Foundation, Washington DC.

Tom Murphy summarized the achievements of the Chinese Mayor and compared them to the push of Mayor Daley  of Chicago, Mayor Bloomberg  of New York and Mayor  Summey of North Charleston, South Carolina. Tom Murphy was Mayor of Pittsburgh for 12 years – a time of radical change from brown-fields left by the shrinking steel industry to one of the most livable cities in the US. He said that it shows a successful Mayor is a benevolent dictator. SOMETHING REALLY TO THINK ABOUT WHEN ONE PONDERS WHY US DEMOCRACY IS FALLING APART when there is no real leadership – and what it takes to be a leader for change.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Chris Christie Skeptical That Global Warming Is Caused By Humans

First Posted on Huffington Post November 10, 2010

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has developed a reputation for endearing political bluntness. But comments he reportedly made about global warming on Tuesday afternoon do seem a bit out of tune with a state that remains, generally, progressive on environmental matters.

During a town hall meeting at Toms River, the governor reportedly said that he was skeptical that humans were causing the earth to warm. There are no quotes accompanying the AP piece, save for a note that Christie says “more science” is needed to convince him. But Christie’s office provided the Huffington Post with his full remarks early on Wednesday:

Mankind, is it responsible for global warming? Well I’ll tell you something. I have seen evidence on both sides of it. I’m skeptical — I’m skeptical. And you know, I think at the at the end of this, I think we’re going to need more science to prove something one way or the other. But you know – cause I’ve seen arguments on both sides of it that at times – like I’ll watch something about man made global warming, and I go wow, that’s fairly convincing. And then I’ll go out and watch the other side of the argument, and I go huh, that’s fairly convincing too. So, I go to be honest with you, I don’t know. And that’s probably one of the reason’s why I became a lawyer, and not a doctor, or an engineer, or a scientist, because I can’t figure this stuff out. But I would say at this point, that has to be proven, and I’m a little skeptical about it. Thank you.

Skepticism of man-made global warming is a big trend in Republican circles these days. And the temptation will undoubtedly be to place Christie’s position in the broader context of talk that he’s privately eying a run for the Republican nomination for president.

That said, he’s expressed modicums of skepticism about global warming in various ways before, though never so brusquely. Last spring, Christie took the state’s entire allocation for its global warming fund ($65 million) to help close its budget deficit.

UPDATE: Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, added the following remarks shortly after this story was published:

The Governor believes the effects of global warming obviously can be damaging to the earth, which is why we have to continue to monitor its impact and get further scientific evidence.

AHA! THAT IS NICE!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

I’m going to the White House – says Bill McKibben.

This in order to re-instate the Jimmy Carter Solar Panels on the White House Roof.

Will President Obama – hammer-in-hand – receive him on that roof – so all can see he is a take-no-nonsense President?

President Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachew to take “that wall down” and was right on that, but why did he take the Carter Solar Panels down and with them also down no less then the potential for energy independence?

Is President Obama ready to broadcast to all that the US must now try to catch up after those 31 lost years?

from:  Bill McKibben – 350.org

to us

reply-to organizers@350.org
date Wed, Sep 8, 2010
subject I’m going to the White House.
——————
350.org is taking solar back to the White House. Literally.

We’re hauling solar panels to Washington DC and inviting President Obama to join the world on 10/10/10.

But President Obama needs to know that he won’t be alone on 10/10/10, so start or join an event today:

www.350.org/start

www.350.org/join

Dear Friends,

Well, I’m getting to work a few weeks ahead of 10-10-10, and wanted to send along the story to get you fired up for the big day.

I’m trying to type this as the biodiesel van I’m sitting in bumps down the highway from the state of Maine on the east coast of the USA. We left tiny Unity College yesterday morning, bound for the White House with stops in Boston and New York — and we’re carrying a piece of history with us.

It’s one of the solar panels that the American president Jimmy Carter installed on the roof of the White House in 1979, 31 long years ago. Here’s what Carter said that day: “A generation from now this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”

Sadly, the panels were taken down a few years later during the Reagan administration. Not because they stopped working — but because we stopped thinking carefully about the future. The folks at Unity College salvaged them from a government warehouse and put them on the roof of their school cafeteria, where they still work fine.

But now they’ve agreed to donate one solar panel back to the White House, in the hope that it will spur Obama to pick up where Carter left off.

Our great hope, of course, is that on 10-10-10 President Obama will be up there on the roof, helping to put the panels in place. Our friends at the solar company Sungevity have even offered to donate a massive, brand new solar array for free. (Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, has already taken them up on the offer — he’ll be up on his roof on 10-10-10 hammering in a new set of panels).

But so far, there’s no definitive answer from the White House. They say they’re “interested”, but that it’s “complicated”.

Here’s how you can tip the balance: in the next 24 hours, we’re going to get back on the phone with the White House and work to convince them to commit to taking action on 10-10-10. It would greatly strengthen our hand to say that hundreds of people have registered new work parties since we last called.

Can you help by registering an event in your community or forwarding this email to friends encouraging them to Get to Work on 10/10/10?

We’ll keep you updated on our Solar Road Trip blog on how negotiations with the White House go and how many actions get signed up over the next 24 hours. Together, we can send President Obama and all politicians a clear message: we’re getting to work, now it’s time for you to do your part.

In the end, we can’t completely control what President Obama, or any other political leader decides to do. We can control what happens in our communities, and we can use our own efforts to put more political pressure on our leaders.

With events already scheduled in over 140 countries, 10/10/10 is shaping up to be huge — but it needs to be massive to create enough pressure to really count.

Please help lead this movement, and get involved in 10/10/10 today.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for The 350.org Team

P.S.: Can you take a moment to inspire your friends to join you on 10/10/10, with a few clicks on Twitter & Facebook?

——————————————————–

Unity College (Maine)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_Colle…(Maine)

Motto    America’s Environmental College
Established    September 7th, 1965
Type    Private
President    Mitchell Thomashow
Vice-president    Amy Knisley
Faculty    35
Students    497
Location    Unity, Maine,USA
Campus    Rural, 240 acres (0.97 km2)
Colors    Green and White
Mascot    The Ram
Athletics    USCAA
Affiliations    NEASC
Website    http://www.unity.edu
Unity College is a private, liberal arts college located 35 miles (56 km) Southwest of Bangor, Maine and 25 miles (40 km) from the Maine Coast, in the village of Unity. The college offers an undergraduate education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources throughout the academic program. In 2007 the school was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges. In the Comprehensive Colleges–Bachelor’s (North) category it is ranked in the third tier.

The college was founded in 1965 as the Unity Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a faculty of 15 and a student body of 39. The founders, a group of local business people, were looking for ways to counter economic decline in the adjacent town of Unity. Two years later it changed its name to Unity College and in 1969 awarded degrees to its first graduating class of 24. The school has continued to grow and has today one of the broadest environmental and natural resources programs in the United States.

The campus is located on 240 acres (0.97 km2) overlooking Unity and nearby Unity Pond. The original section of the campus consisted of a farm with several of the farm buildings serving as residence halls, classrooms and administrative offices. The original farmhouse now is home to the College Development, Public Safety, Human Resources, and Switchboard offices.
There are five residence options on campus. The Eastview, Westview, and Wood Halls are designated for freshmen. Upperclassmen have the option of living in The Cottages, Maplewood, Cianchette Hall, or off campus. The residential community is vibrant and close knit resulting in over 60% of the student body living on-campus.
The Dorothy W. Quimby Library houses a collection of over 50,000 volumes to more than 400 scholarly and general-interest periodicals. The collection has been assembled primarily to support the college’s curriculum, but additionally it serves as the public library for area towns; its holdings include a large collection of general fiction and children’s books.

The academic program comprises a broad environmental curriculum with 24 different majors and 13 minors. All of the degrees offered focus in environmental or natural resource studies. The college has a reputation for hands-on and outdoor study, and for providing students a gateway to outdoor careers. Many alumni go on to careers in biological research, state park & wildlife refuge management, natural sciences education, and wilderness recreation organization.

The majors of study are: Adventure Education Leadership; Adventure Therapy; Agriculture, Food and Sustainability; Aquaculture and Fisheries; Conservation Law Enforcement; Ecology; Environmental Analysis; Environmental Biology; Environmental Education; Environmental Policy; Environmental Humanities, Environmental Science, Environmental Writing, Forestry, General Studies; Landscape Horticulture; Liberal Studies; Marine Biology; Wildlife; Wildlife Biology; Captive Wildlife Care and Education; Wildlife Conservation; Parks, Recreation & Ecotourism; and Sustainability, Design and Technology.
The minor areas of study are: Adventure Therapy, Chemistry, English, Environmental Policy, Gender Studies, Geology, Horticulture, Human Ecology and Sustainable Development, Natural and Cultural Heritage Interpretation, Philosophy, Psychology, Studio Arts, Wildlife and Zoology.

The college is a leader in the movement towards sustainability.

The campus produces exceptionally low climate emissions of around 4,300 pounds per student per year, achieved through a program of energy audits and retrofits to buildings. All recent and new buildings are or will be low or zero carbon. The first of these is the so-called Unity House, designed and built by Bensonwood architects and timber frame builders of New Hampshire. All students take a required course in sustainability in their junior year, including several weeks on climate change. The college recently began to offer Bachelor of Science Degree in Sustainability Design and Technology, and, in conjunction with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Association, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, Food and Sustainability, both begun Fall 2008. Unity College will be graded in the College Sustainability Report Card 2010 edition.

Unity College
90 Quaker Hill Road
Unity, ME 04988-3712
(207) 948-3131

—————————————————————————-
 350.org is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. 350.org is an independent and not-for-profit project.

What is 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a “people powered movement” that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.

The folks at Unity College salvaged those panels from a government warehouse and put them on the roof of their cafeteria, where they still work fine.

But now they’ve agreed to donate one back to the White House, in the hope that it will spur Obama to pick up where Carter left off.

We repeat: Our great hope, of course, is that on 10-10-10 President Obama will be up there on the roof, helping to put the panels in place. Our friends at the solar company Sungevity have even offered to donate a massive, brand new solar array for free. (Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, has already taken them up on the offer — he’ll be up on his roof on 10-10-10 hammering in a new set of panels).

Further, SustainabiliTank.info contemplating that the White House cannot accept donations for a good purpose, it will be needed to wrap the thing up as a return of property that was wrongfully removed by in the Reagan days or perhaps an expenditure needed to return the building’s infrastructure to higher energy efficiency.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WHARTON SEMINARS FOR BUSINESS JOURNALISTS ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP

WHEN: Program takes place October 10-13, deadline for applications varies, see background information

CONTACT: To apply go to www.wharton.upenn.edu/journalists

BACKGROUND: The Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists are dedicated to helping journalists gain a better understanding of key business and economic issues via intensive lectures conducted by senior Wharton School faculty.  Our Donald T. Sheehan International Fellowship is offered to help international or internationally-focused journalists who wish to attend the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists.  The Fellowship provides for tuition, most meals and all program materials but not travel or lodging.   The program takes place on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, PA, October 10-13, 2010.  Please note:

1)         For the Sheehan Fellowship, deadline is Sept. 1, 2010. Note “Sheehan Fellowship” in the “current responsibilities” field of on the application page here: www.wharton.upenn.edu/media_room/journalists/application.html

2)         For general applications, the deadline is Oct. 1, 2010

3)         Additional information:

•           Session Dates: Sunday-Wednesday, October 10-13, 2010

•           Fee [for those not receiving financial assistance]: The cost of the program is $1995.00 and includes tuition, materials, and most meals.  Final deadline date for all applications and payment is October 1, 2010.

•           Location: Classes will convene at the Wharton School’s state-of-the-art facility, Jon M. Huntsman Hall.

•           Accommodations: If registered by September 1, 2010, participants may reserve rooms at the Hilton Inn at Penn.

•           Program Agenda: Scheduled sessions and faculty are available here: www.wharton.upenn.edu/media_room/journalists/courses.html

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

When asked why he was so good, hockey icon Wayne Gretzky replied:
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

As Leo Gerard, President of the Steel Worker’s Union, and Michael Peck of Gamesa, said in a recent editorial, “The world is skating toward multiple clean sources of energy in a carbon-free future.  The question is whether the U.S. has the political will to become a leader in the largest industry of this century, or whether it is willing to accept the economic and climatic consequences of failing to act.”

Pennsylvania has the will.  The Pew Charitable Trust rates Pennsylvania amongst the top three states in the nation that have capitalized on revitalizing their economy through projects that:

  • Provide alternatives to carbon-based energy sources;
  • Conserve the use of energy and all natural resources; and
  • Reduce pollution (including GHG emissions) and repurposes waste.

But transformation takes time and money.  Since central Pennsylvania has faced the same economic hardships that have affected much of rural America, a recent press tour sponsored by Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), provided key insights into how Pennsylvania is meeting these challenges.

THE GREEN ECONOMY Website  has this months articles on:

Pennsylvania’s Green Economy

and we present here the link:

www.thegreeneconomy.com/pennsylvanias-green-economy/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from: Citizens For Affordable Energy

The following quite amazed us and we had to do a little research:

With the help of Google we found: “THE CHARLATAN MAGAZINE IS THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE COMPLEMENT OF THE CHARLATAN, CARLETON UNIVERSITY’S INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER.”

Joseph-Beth Booksellers is an independent bookseller with stores in five major US cities: Lexington, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Charlotte, North Carolina and as well The Village At Spotsylvania Towne Centre, Spotsylvania, Virginia. Then looking up the area phone code 704 – this points at Charlotte, North Carolina. Ain’t this amazing? Why then Carleton University – or are there more then one Carleton University that compete for the charlatan?

======================

John Hofmeister Charlotte Book Signing

Citizens for Affordable Energy

919 Milam, Suite 2070
Houston, TX
77002
US

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=240ce33fbb&view=att&th=12924c2bcfb68f85&attid=0.1&disp=inline&zw

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/e…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

BP disaster’s lesson for government regulators.

By KENNETH ROGOFF, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — As the damaged BP oil well continues to spew millions of gallons of crude from the depths of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, the immediate challenge is how to mitigate an ever-magnifying environmental catastrophe. One can only hope that the spill will be contained soon, and that the ever-darkening worst-case scenarios will not materialize.

The disaster, however, poses a much deeper challenge to how modern societies deal with regulating complex technologies. The accelerating speed of innovation seems to be outstripping government regulators’ capacity to deal with risks, much less anticipate them.

The parallels between the oil spill and the recent financial crisis are all too painful: The promise of innovation, unfathomable complexity, and lack of transparency (scientists estimate that we know only a very small fraction of what goes on at the oceans’ depths.) Wealthy and politically powerful lobbies put enormous pressure on even the most robust governance structures. It is a huge embarrassment for U.S. President Barack Obama that he proposed to expand offshore oil drilling greatly just before the BP catastrophe struck.

The oil technology story, like the one for exotic financial instruments, was very compelling and seductive. Oil executives bragged that they could drill a couple of kilometers down, then a kilometer across and hit their target within a few meters. Suddenly, instead of a world of “peak oil” with ever-depleting resources, technology offered the promise of extending supplies for another generation.

Western officials were also swayed by concerns about the stability of supplies in the Middle East, which accounts for a large proportion of the world’s proven reserves. Some developing countries, most notably Brazil, have discovered huge potential offshore riches.

Now all bets are off. In the United States, offshore drilling seems set to go the way of nuclear power, with new projects being shelved for decades. And, as is often the case, a crisis in one country may go global, with many other countries radically scaling back off-shore and out-of-bounds projects. Will Brazil really risk its spectacular coastline for oil, now that everyone has been reminded of what can happen? What about Nigeria, where other risks are amplified by civil strife?

Oil experts argue that offshore drilling never had the potential to amount to more than a small share of global supply. But there now will be greater concerns about deep drilling in any sensitive environment. And the problem is not just with oil. The big news in energy these days is the revolution in technology for tapping shale gas. With important reserves near populated areas, governments will need to temper their enthusiasm and think about the balance between risks and riches. {see here that this comment is very timely – we just received an e-mail from the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club – the SustainabiliTank.info editor – the letter is attached.}

The basic problem of complexity, technology, and regulation extends to many other areas of modern life. Nanotechnology and innovation in developing artificial organisms offer a huge potential boon to mankind, promising development of new materials, medicines, and treatment techniques. Yet, with all of these exciting technologies, it is extremely difficult to strike a balance between managing “tail risk” — a very small risk of a very large disaster — and supporting innovation.

Financial crises are almost comforting by comparison. Speculative bubbles and banking crises have been a regular feature of the economic landscape for centuries. Awful as they are, societies survive them.

True, people who thought, “This time is different,” before the recent Great Recession were proven wrong. But, even if we are not getting any better at dealing with financial crises, things have not necessarily been getting worse, either.

Perhaps the G20 government leaders have not done quite as brilliant a job plugging the hole in the financial system as they claim. The raging sovereign-debt problems in continental Europe, and the brewing ones in the U.S., Japan and elsewhere are proof enough of that. But, compared to BP’s efforts to plug its oil hole, the G20 leaders look omnipotent.

– – –

If ever there were a wakeup call for Western society to rethink its dependence on ever-accelerating technological innovation for ever-expanding fuel consumption, surely the BP oil spill should be it. Even China, with its “boom now, deal with the environment later” strategy should be taking a hard look at the Gulf of Mexico.

Economics teaches us that when there is huge uncertainty about catastrophic risks, it is dangerous to rely too much on the price mechanism to get incentives right. Unfortunately, economists know much less about how to adapt regulation over time to complex systems with constantly evolving risks, much less how to design regulatory resilient institutions. Until these problems are better understood, we may be doomed to a world of regulation that perpetually overshoots or undershoots its goals.

The finance industry already is warning that new regulation may overshoot — that is, have the unintended effect of sharply impeding growth. Now, we may soon face the same concerns over energy policy, and not just for oil.

Given the huge financial stakes involved, achieving global consensus will be difficult, as the Copenhagen climate-change fiasco proved. The advanced countries, which can best afford to restrain long-term growth, must lead by example. The balance of technology, complexity, and regulation is without doubt one of the greatest challenges that the world must face in 21st century. We can ill afford to keep getting it wrong.

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Atlantic Chapter Action Alerts <ATL-ACTIONALERTS@lists.sierraclub.org>
date Sun, Jun 6, 2010 at 9:58 PM
subject Call to stop Hydrofracking.

We need to pass the Englebright/Addabbo (A.10490/S.7592) bill before June 21, the end of this legislative session!

We must delay permitting of horizontal drilling until the EPA concludes its study of hydrofracking’s impacts on water quality and public health. The DEC is poised to allow permitting of hydraulic fracturing before the end of 2010, and the legislature is not due back until 2011! Without the E/A bill’s passage, the state stands open to the imminent onset of drilling. For the text of the bill, visit open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S7592.

It is urgent that you call your state senator and ask him/her to reach out to Sen. Thompson, asking him to put the bill on Wednesday’s agenda.

Find your senator at www.nysenate.gov.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Economist online  www.economist-online-newsletters-admin a… From the Desk of Economist Editor John Micklethwait

The most intelligent digest of the news online.

————–

The Economist Editor’s Highlights | May 20th 2010
And man made life

It is always hard for non-scientists to gauge the importance of an announcement from a laboratory. This week however something dramatic happened. Artificial life, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, arrived. Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, the two American biologists who unravelled the first DNA sequence of a living organism, have made a bacterium that has an artificial genome—creating a living creature with no ancestor. It is now possible to conceive of a world in which new bacteria (and eventually, new animals and plants) are designed on a computer and then grown to order. That ability would prove mankind’s mastery over nature in a way more profound than even the detonation of the first atomic bomb. It also raises deep questions. “Predator” and “disease” are just as much part of the biological vocabulary as “nurturing” and “growth”. Our cover leader looks at the consequences of this brave new world.

Here are some other pieces from this week’s issue you might also be interested in. You can click straight through to each one and read it at
The Economist online using the links below.

This week’s highlights
The battle of Bangkok
Slaughter seems to have been averted; civil war sadly remains a possibility
Read more
Does Facebook know too much about you?
Both it and Google should change the way they look after personal information
Read more
A 16-page special report on water
Finite, vital, much wanted, little understood, water looks unmanageable. It needn’t be
Read more
Labour’s love lost
Who should lead Britain’s opposition now that Gordon Brown has gone?
Read more
Hello young Paul, farewell old Specter
Our verdict on the primaries
Read more

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The CNN ireport – LIVING IN A TOXIC TOWN. CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta invite you to put on video what you know.

 www.ireport.com/ir-topic-stories….

Living in a toxic town

Many residents of Mossville, Louisiana, suspect their proximity to more than a dozen chemical plants may be responsible for what they say are high rates of cancer and other diseases in the area.

Is there a place near you where pollution is making people sick? CNN is investigating the environment’s effects on health as part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Toxic Towns USA special. We want you to join us in the newsgathering process.

“Put yourself on video and document conditions in your area, or take photos of what’s around you. Tell us what industrial or chemical pollution may be contributing to health problems for you and those you love, and be sure not to put yourself in a dangerous situation,” CNN writes.

“Tell us about toxic towns near you and Dr. Gupta may report on your community.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from bsabbag@gmail.com
date Mon, Apr 26, 2010
subject Paper “Civil Liability for Environmental Damage related to Climate Change in Brazil”.

Please find attached the paper named “Civil Liability for Environmental Damage related to Climate Change in Brazil”, which we have just published at the Penn State University’s Conference on “Integrating Development and Climate Change Ethics.”

Integrating Development and Climate Change Ethics

Conference: April 14–16, 2010
Nittany Lion Inn, Penn State.

(rockethics.psu.edu/climate/events/idcce/).

 mail.google.com/mail/?attid=0.1&…

We will be glad to receive your comments, as well as to further discuss climate change law in Brazil and worldwide.

Best regards,
Bruno Kerlakian Sabbag.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Jill Lawrence, Columnist of Politics Daily, an aol.com blog – says “New Nukes? A Three Mile Island ‘Survivor’ Says Not So Fast.”
POSTED: 02/19/10

President Obama’s move to revive nuclear power, with $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees for two reactors in Georgia, has special resonance for those of us who experienced the Three Mile Island nuclear scare. In retrospect, the T-shirts that said “I Survived TMI” were overly dramatic. But at the time it didn’t seem that way — which may be why I’m deeply ambivalent about the second coming of nukes.

In March 1979, I was in my 20s, the only woman among five reporters in the cramped Associated Press bureau at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. And I was a newcomer. I had been there just six weeks when the report came in that state troopers had shut down a reactor in Middletown, about 10 miles down the Susquehanna River.

It was the start of a terrifying few days during which we all learned phrases like “partial core meltdown” and “fuel rods” and “containment building.”

Some of the first foreign journalists to arrive were from Japan, evoking the spectacularly un-reassuring memory of the A-bomb and rampant radiation sickness. But then, nothing at the time was reassuring. The AP sent in radiation suits and drew up a helicopter evacuation plan. I was to be on the first flight out; the hope was to preserve my ability to bear children.

It never came to that (and a few years later I had two sons). Still, there were surreal and heart-pounding moments that remain vivid today.

I remember driving through Middletown in unseasonably warm weather a day or two after the episode began, my car window wide open. Suddenly a radio announcer barked an emergency warning: Bursts of radiation coming from the plant! Close your windows! Stay indoors! I closed the window and tried not to panic.

I remember the Hersheypark Arena evacuation center, teeming with pregnant women, preschool children and out-of-town media. I remember going to see “The China Syndrome,” a film about a core meltdown at a nuclear plant, during the TMI siege — and the gasps throughout the theater when one of the characters said a meltdown could contaminate an area “the size of the state of Pennsylvania.”

There was the celebrity-packed 1979 No Nukes concert in Washington. I attended as a private citizen (wearing a Solar Power T-shirt, it can now be told) and saw John Hall of the band Orleans lead an all-star chorus of “Power,” an ode to “the warm power of the sun” and a protest of “atomic poison power.”  There was also the modest Harrisburg version of the Gridiron Show, where journalists poke fun at the powerful. We pranksters rewrote Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now to parody then-Gov. Dick Thornburgh’s positions on nuclear power.
The more serious aftermath of TMI included lawsuits, cancer scares, years of debate over who should pay for the billion-dollar cleanup, and the dramatic moment when cleanup workers in space suits would enter the containment building for the first time. It was before cell phones and laptops. Reporters skirmished angrily over two available landlines (yes, I was one of them) and one poor guy — who wasn’t at the scene — sent out a bulletin from his office trumpeting the milestone. Except the door had stuck and no workers got inside that day. Seven years later came Chernobyl, the nuclear meltdown that forced the evacuation of more than 336,000 people and is ultimately expected to kill 4,000.

Given all that, it’s not surprising that nuclear power has been on hold in the United States since TMI, with 104 plants supplying about 20 percent of U.S. electricity. But nor is it surprising that it seems poised for a comeback. Last year, Gallup found that 59 percent of the public favored nuclear power. The industry has been far more focused on safety since TMI, both in procedures and design.

External factors also have changed. There was no alarm in 1979 about global warming or the fossil fuels that contribute to it. Gasoline had not gone to $4 a gallon. And the nations selling us oil were not potential nuclear foes or havens for suicidal terrorist attackers. “Those who had misgivings about nuclear power had a clear path to raise them in a vacuum,” absent the concerns we have now, Thornburgh told me. He said the 30-year, post-TMI debate “has been overtaken by events.”
Thornburgh came into office 72 days before the accident and gave a harrowing account of his experience last year at a 30th anniversary observance hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Anybody who went through that period of time there has some residual concerns,” he told me. But he said that as a practical matter, the country needs more nuclear power in its energy mix. “If it is really unsafe and undesirable, you ought to dismantle all the plants that are out there now,” Thornburgh said. “Nobody’s suggesting that.”

What about some of the other players from the TMI era? John Hall, the “No Nukes” musician, is now a congressman from upstate New York and he’s still fighting nuclear power. W. Wilson Goode, a former Philadelphia mayor who now works with children whose parents are in prison, is another opponent. He was chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission when it had to figure out how much, if anything, utility customers should pay for the accident cleanup.

Goode says his views were shaped by the concerns of people living around the plant and “the almost reckless ways” that the utility management dealt with the accident. “Every nuclear plant we build, we run a risk of a catastrophe at some point … that cannot be controlled,” he told me. “No one has yet convinced me that it is something we can make safe. And the fact is they’re easy targets for terrorists.”

Thomas Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, advised the NRC on the TMI cleanup and a law firm on how to spend $5 million from a successful class action lawsuit (they did cancer studies and installed radiation monitors near TMI). He says federal help to the nuclear industry — on proliferation, risk insurance, waste disposal and now loan guarantees — is giving an unwarranted financial edge to huge plants that take 10 years of lead time to plan and build. It’s especially galling to Cochran that Obama is selling nuclear power as a way to cut carbon pollution and slow climate change.

“It’s not a good idea for the government to go around subsidizing uneconomical technology,” Cochran told me. “You’re in effect putting your thumb on the scale and penalizing technologies that provide climate relief faster and cheaper and more safely than nuclear power.”

To the extent that Obama offered the nuclear loan guarantees to win Republican votes for an energy and climate bill, Cochran added, the move came too early: “From a crass political standpoint, he should have used it as a bargaining chip.”

Politics aside, Cochran and Thornburgh — a Republican — agree that the great unresolved issue is how to dispose of nuclear waste. It is ironic that Obama demonstrated a renewed commitment to nuclear power in the same month that his budget sounded the death knell for the highly controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

So what about me? Much as I love that John Hall YouTube clip, I am not a flower child. I look at France and see a society functioning smoothly and safely on nuclear power. And yet, if nuclear is so important to our future, why are we still waiting for a definitive solution to the nuclear waste problem? We have the brainpower, I don’t doubt that. But will we be able to summon the will and the wallet, as the first President Bush once put it, to get it done?

In the end, nuclear power is one of those facets of modern life that requires a leap of faith, the kind I take every time I step onto an airplane. Do you understand technology? Do you trust it? Do you trust those responsible for keeping you safe? It’s been a long time since I survived TMI. I’m getting there on the trust thing. The feds could close the deal with me by launching a Manhattan Project on nuclear waste disposal, deadline any time before those new Georgia reactors come online.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.tnr.com/blog/the-vine/what-th…

What The Snowpocalypse Tells Us About Global Warming.
by Bradford Plumer, February 10, 2010, The New Republic online

Washington D.C.’s getting slammed by record snowfall right now, which means that in addition to unplowed roads and Mad Max-style scenes at Safeway, we also have to suffer through a flurry of Al Gore jokes and Republicans snorting about how this proves global warming is all fake. I guess the prim, boring response is that a single weather event, even an extreme one, doesn’t tell us very much about long-term climate trends. But blah, blah, everyone’s heard that line before.

A more thoughtful reply comes from meteorologist Jeff Masters, who explains how massive snowstorms in the Northeast are, in fact, quite consistent with a steadily warming world:

There are two requirements for a record snow storm:

1) A near-record amount of moisture in the air (or a very slow moving storm).

2) Temperatures cold enough for snow.

It’s not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming.

According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow.

The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture.

Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events–the ones most likely to cause flash flooding–will also increase. This occurs because as the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air.

According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. This extra moisture in the air will tend to produce heavier snowstorms, assuming it is cold enough to snow. Groisman et al. (2004) found a 14% increase in heavy (top 5%) and 20% increase in very heavy (top 1%) precipitation events in the U.S. over the past 100 years, though mainly in spring and summer. However, the authors did find a significant increase in winter heavy precipitation events have occurred in the Northeast U.S.

This was echoed by Changnon et al. (2006), who found, “The temporal distribution of snowstorms exhibited wide fluctuations during 1901-2000, with downward 100-yr trends in the lower Midwest, South, and West Coast. Upward trends occurred in the upper Midwest, East, and Northeast, and the national trend for 1901-2000 was upward, corresponding to trends in strong cyclonic activity.”

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting the U.S. Global Change Research Program actually predicted stronger winter storms for the Northeast, in its 2009 report on potential climate-change impacts for the United States:

Storm tracks have shifted northward over the last 50 years as evidenced by a decrease in the frequency of storms in mid-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, while high-latitude activity has increased. There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes (Kunkel et al., 2008). The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights.”

Now, that doesn’t mean we can definitely say that global warming caused this snow monstrosity—again, it’s too hard to attribute any single weather event to long-term climate shifts. (For instance, El Niño may be playing a bigger role right now in feeding these storms.) At most, we can say that a warming climate will create the conditions that make fierce winter storms in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic more likely. Or at least it will for awhile: If the planet keeps heating up, then at some point freezing conditions in the Northeast will become very rare, at which point snowstorms will, too But we’re not at that point—the Earth hasn’t warmed that much yet.

On the other hand, climate models do predict that snowstorms in the southernmost parts of the United States should become much rarer in the coming decades: There’s plenty of moisture down south, but freezing temperatures are likely to decrease and the jet stream is expected to shift northward. So if those regions start seeing a sustained uptick in snowfall, then something’s gone awry in climate predictions. But the blizzard in the Northeast, while miserable and incredibly disruptive, doesn’t appear whack with long-term forecasts. (That’s not exactly cheerful news for those of us who have to live here.)

—————
Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog

Last Updated: 1:02 PM GMT on February 11, 2010.
Heavy snowfall in a warming world.

Posted by: JeffMasters on February 08, 2010

A major new winter storm is headed east over the U.S. today, and threatens to dump a foot or more of snow on Philadelphia, New York City, and surrounding regions Tuesday and Wednesday. Philadelphia is still digging out from its second top-ten snowstorm of recorded history to hit the city this winter, and the streets are going to begin looking like canyons if this week’s snowstorm adds a significant amount of snow to the incredible 28.5″ that fell during “Snowmageddon” last Friday and Saturday. Philadelphia has had two snowstorms exceeding 23″ this winter. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the return period for a 22+ inch snow storm is once every 100 years–and we’ve had two 100-year snow storms in Philadelphia this winter. It is true that if the winter pattern of jet stream location, sea surface temperatures, etc, are suitable for a 100-year storm to form, that will increase the chances for a second such storm to occur that same year, and thus the odds have having two 100-year storms the same year are not 1 in 10,000. Still, the two huge snowstorms this winter in the Mid-Atlantic are definitely a very rare event one should see only once every few hundred years, and is something that has not occurred since modern records began in 1870. The situation is similar for Baltimore and Washington D.C. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the expected return period in the Washington D.C./Baltimore region for snowstorms with more than 16 inches of snow is about once every 25 years. This one-two punch of two major Nor’easters in one winter with 16+ inches of snow is unprecedented in the historical record for the region, which goes back to the late 1800s.

Top 9 snowstorms on record for Philadelphia:

1. 30.7″, Jan 7-8, 1996
2. 28.5″, Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
3. 23.2″, Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
4. 21.3″, Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 21.0″, Dec 25-26, 1909
6. 19.4″, Apr 3-4, 1915
7. 18.9″, Feb 12-14, 1899
8. 16.7″, Jan 22-24, 1935
9. 15.1″, Feb 28-Mar 1, 1941

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Baltimore:

1. 28.2″, Feb 15-18, 2003
2. 26.5″, Jan 27-29, 1922
3. 24.8″, Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
4. 22.8″, Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 22.5″, Jan 7-8, 1996
6. 22.0″, Mar 29-30, 1942
7. 21.4″, Feb 11-14, 1899
8. 21.0″, Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 20.0″, Feb 18-19, 1979
10. 16.0″, Mar 15-18, 1892

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. 28.0″, Jan 27-28, 1922
2. 20.5″, Feb 11-13, 1899
3. 18.7″, Feb 18-19, 1979
4. 17.8″ Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
5. 17.1″, Jan 6-8, 1996
6. 16.7″, Feb 15-18, 2003
7. 16.6″, Feb 11-12, 1983
8. 16.4″, Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 14.4″, Feb 15-16, 1958
10. 14.4″, Feb 7, 1936

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