By Robert A. Vella
In important environmental news…
From The New York Times – China to Announce Cap-and-Trade Program to Limit Emissions:
WASHINGTON — President Xi Jinping of China will make a landmark commitment on Friday to start a national program in 2017 that will limit and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, Obama administration officials said Thursday.
The move to create a so-called cap-and-trade system would be a substantial step by the world’s largest polluter to reduce emissions from major industries, including steel, cement, paper and electric power.
The announcement, to come during a White House summit meeting with President Obama, is part of an ambitious effort by China and the United States to use their leverage internationally to tackle climate change and to pressure other nations to do the same.
Mr. Xi’s pledge underscores China’s intention to act quickly and upends what has long been a potent argument among Republicans against acting on climate change: that the United States’ most powerful economic competitor has not done so. But it is not clear whether China will be able to enact and enforce a program that substantially limits emissions.
Domestic and external pressures have driven the Chinese government to take firmer action to curb emissions from fossil fuels, especially coal. Growing public anger about the noxious air that often envelops Beijing and many other Chinese cities has prompted the government to introduce restrictions on coal and other sources of smog, with the side benefit of reducing carbon dioxide pollution. The authorities also see economic benefits in reducing fossil fuel use.
From The Washington Post – Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean:
Indeed, last week we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going to 1880. It’s just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015.
Yet, if you look closely, there’s one part of the planet that is bucking the trend. In the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has seen very cold temperatures for the past eight months.
At this point, it’s time to ask what the heck is going on here. And while there may not yet be any scientific consensus on the matter, at least some scientists suspect that the cooling seen in these maps is no fluke but, rather, part of a process that has been long feared by climate researchers — the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation.
In March, several top climate scientists, including Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Michael Mann of Penn State, published a paper in Nature Climate Change suggesting that the gigantic ocean current known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, is weakening. It’s sometimes confused with the “Gulf Stream,” but, in fact, that’s just a southern branch of it.
On Sept. 10, a US federal appeals court came down hard against the Environmental Protection Agency for approving the use of a pesticide called sulfoxaflur without reviewing enough evidence to know whether or not it is harmful to bees.
It was the first time that the US government has banned use of the insecticide nationwide over concern for its longterm effects on honey bees, and challenged the EPA to produce more field studies on its safety. The ban is considered a big win for the beekeeping industry.
The ruling isn’t so much pro-bee as it is pro-regulation. The Ninth Circuit appeals court challenged the EPA’s process for approving the use of pesticides, and found that, by the EPA’s own standards, the agency had failed to inspect sulfoxaflur thoroughly before letting farmers use it (and letting corporations like Dow AgroSciences manufacture and sell it).