Join the Smithsonian Marine Station for a live webcast on Monday, June 22 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST! We will be chatting with Smithsonian scientists working at our Carrie Bow Cay Field Station in Belize about working on this remote island and the future of coral reefs in the face of a changing climate. Submit your questions directly via through the Google+ platform or via Twitter using the hashtag #coralchat
New Zealand scientists voice concern over gagging on climate change. WELLINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) — New Zealand scientists said Monday that government funding policies have effectively prevented them from making any serious input into the government’s climate change stance: here.
Shell is keen to present itself as a responsible company that is trying to tackle climate change but critics say its commitment to tar sands, deep water wells and Arctic exploration are at odds with this stance.
The emails, which have all names redacted, follow the decision by the oil company to become a principal sponsor of the Atmosphere, Exploring Climate Science gallery and the extended Climate Changing programme at the Science Museum.
The Atmosphere gallery was designed to deepen public understanding of global warming but Shell’s own climate change adviser – former oil trader David Hone – made recommendations on what should be included.
Emails show the close relationship between the Science Museum and Shell with the two discussing how they should react to expected criticism from Greenpeace following a Guardian story in October 2014. In that story, the Science Museum’s former director Chris Rapley criticised Greenpeace’s successful campaign to make Lego drop its partnership with Shell.
In another communication with the Science Museum dated 9 December 2014, a Shell staff member gives what they call a “heads up” on a Reuters story reporting that Shell’s Arctic drilling contractor, Noble, has pleaded guilty to eight charges of pollution and poor record keeping.
But the most damaging email is dated 8 May 2014 when a Shell employee receives an update from the Science Museum and replies. “Regards the rubbish archive project [an interactive exhibition examining waste in the context of climate change], xxx and I have some concerns on this exhibition particularly as it creates an opportunity for NGOs to talk about some of the issues that concern them around Shell’s operations.”
It goes on: “Could you please share more information with us on the symposium event planned for September? As you know we receive a great deal of interest around our art sponsorships so need to ensure we do not proactively open up a debate on the topic. Will it be an invite only event?”
And it ends: “Regarding the gallery update, can I check whether you have touched base with David Hone to see if he would like to participate in the content refresh?”
Garrard said he was concerned that the close relationship between big oil and the Science Museum was set to continue with BP sponsoring a forthcoming exhibition, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age.
To help them cope with climate change birds are grow[ing] bigger beaks, new research suggests. The scientists, led by Dr Matthew Symonds from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology in Australia, have discovered a pattern between increased climatic temperatures and an increase in the size of the beaks of parrot species in southern and eastern Australia.
“Birds use their beaks to keep themselves cool. Just as an elephant’s ears help to act as a fan to keep the animal cooler, birds can pump blood to their highly vascularized bills, enabling them to lose excess heat when they get hot,” Dr Symonds said.
They found that four of the five species examined had measurably bigger beaks now than they had in the 19th century.
“In an earlier study we found that birds in hotter climates had bigger beaks than those in cooler climates, which prompted us to look at whether there has been an increase in beak size generally as the climate has got hotter over the past century,” Dr Symonds said.
“We found an increase in beak surface area of between four and 10 per cent, which may not sound like much, but would actually make a huge difference to the birds’ ability to cool down when they are stressed by heat. We have been able to show there has been an increase in the size of the beaks, in line with the increase in the temperature these parts of Australia have experienced over the same time frame.
“However, we can’t yet conclusively rule out the effect of other environmental factors, such as changes in habitat or food availability. This work provides an important basis on which to do more research. The next step will be to expand the research to consider a wider range of species from other regions, and with different kinds of beak shapes and lifestyles.
“Aside from it indicating another way in which climate change is affecting animals, the beak is so intimately tied to a birds’ lifestyle that climate-related changes in beaks may have further ramifications for other aspects of their biology: what kind of food they eat, how they compete with each other and how they reproduce.”
BP pumped billions of pounds into low-carbon technology and green energy over a number of decades but gradually retired the programme to focus almost exclusively on its fossil fuel business, the Guardian has established.
The energy efficiency programme employed 4,400 research scientists and R&D support staff at bases in Sunbury, Berkshire, and Cleveland, Ohio, among other locations, while $8bn was directly invested over five years in zero- or low-carbon energy.
But almost all of the technology was sold off and much of the research locked away in a private corporate archive.
But the company, which once promised to go “beyond petroleum” will come under fire both inside the meeting and outside from some shareholders and campaigners who argue BP is playing fast and loose with the environment by not making meaningful moves away from fossil fuels.
In 2015, BP will spend $20bn on projects worldwide but only a fraction will go into activities other than fossil fuel extraction.
An investigation by the Guardian has established that the British oil company is doing far less now on developing low-carbon technologies than it was in the 1980s and early 1990s. Back then it was engaged in a massive internal research and development (R&D) programme into energy efficiency and alternative energy.
Even before the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had put climate change on the international political map with a landmark speech in 1988,
the company was doing ground-breaking work into photovoltaic solar panels, wave power and domestic energy efficiency as part of a wider drive to understand how greenhouse gas emissions could be curbed.
Two houses on the site at Sunbury were used in experiments. One was retrofitted with special insulation, ground source heat pumps and other systems which have now become mainstream.
“All the reports that we produced were filed away and contain a huge mass of information. We had been researching alternative energies for years going back to the early 1980s,” said one senior scientist involved in the BP programme who did not want to be named.
A major cost-cutting drive in 1993 forced the end of R&D as a standalone department. It was reduced in scale, merged with the engineering department and told to concentrate on oil and chemical research.
Much of the renewable energy research is now kept in a formal BP archive based at the Modern Records Centre, a part of the main library at Warwick University, which describes itself as “a history of the modern world”.
The oil company employs its own librarians at the site who insist that only pre-1976 material on issues such as solar power are available to journalists and the public.
A spokesman for BP insisted that the company was now spending $660m on research, half of that in-house at locations such as Sunbury and he denied that any energy efficiency drive was being wound down. 20% of R&D is still said to be going towards “a low-carbon transition” .
But he accepted that the company had retreated from renewable energy which had once had its own separate headquarters and chief executive, saying it was up to others to do that work.
Greenpeace said it was time that BP handed over all the research it had gained from its decades of work. “By keeping this wealth of research under lock and key BP is putting narrow corporate interests before humanity’s hopes to tackle one of its greatest challenges, said a spokesman.
“BP could score a PR victory by releasing this information, in the same way that Tesla released some of their energy patents to boost innovation in the sector. Not pursuing its clean energy project might have been a missed opportunity for BP, but the rest of us can’t afford to make the same mistake.”
As recently as 2003 the then-chief executive John Browne appeared to see a bright future for a low-carbon energy group, bringing in Ogilvy & Mather to launch a $200m rebranding campaign.
BP introduced its new slogan “Beyond Petroleum” and changed its 70-year-old, shield-style logo to a more upbeat and eco-friendly green and yellow sunburst.
This 2010 video is called Greenpeace launch logo competition to rebrand BP. Greenpeace climbers rebrand BP with a ‘British polluters’ flag.
Six years earlier Browne had differentiated himself from his rivals by leaving the main industry body campaigning against carbon controls, the Global Climate Coalition, instead talking openly of the threat caused by global warming.
By 2007 Browne had left the company to his successor Tony Hayward who closed down BP Solar in 2011, on the grounds that it did not make money.
“The continuing global economic challenges have significantly impacted the solar industry, making it difficult to sustain long-term returns for the company, despite our best efforts,” BP said in an internal letter to staff at the time.
Two years earlier, in 2009, Hayward had scrapped BP Alternative Energy as a stand-alone business, slashed its budget and said goodbye to its boss Vivienne Cox.
In 2013, under an even newer chief executive, Bob Dudley, all the wind farms which at one stage were located in nine different American states and produced 2,600 megawatts were put up for sale. BP failed to find a buyer and continues to hang on to them. The company also retains a Brazilian biofuels business but has halted all work on carbon capture and storage.
BP continues to invest in carbon-heavy tar sands operations as well as its traditional oil and gas fields and yet it accepts that some reserves will have to remain in the ground to beat global warming. …
A major group of shareholders have called on the company to address climate change more robustly through a resolution to be heard at the AGM.
BP management says it supports the resolution but ultimately believes that politicians must take primary responsibility for tackling global warming and hastening in a low-carbon future. ..,
Suzanne Dhaliwal from the UK Tar Sands Network said support for the AGM resolution looked hollow when the company was still engaged in carbon-heavy extraction activities. “It looks like a stalling mechanism to get large shareholders on board but from a grass roots level commitments to tackling climate change and continuing with tar sands are incompatible.”
This 15-minute segment was produced by ABC TV’s investigative program “Prime Time,” and aired in December 1990. The piece features Lijon Eknilang, a Marshallese woman who was 8-years old at the time of the U.S.’ largest and dirtiest H-bomb at Bikini in March 1954, a fission-fusion-fission bomb 1,000 times the Hiroshima A-bomb.
Caught in the high-level radioactive fallout downwind from Bikini and the H-bomb [Bravo], Lijon subsequently contracted many radiation-induced disorders along with seven miscarriages leading to her eventual sterility.
Lijon Eknilang died last month after leading a life dedicated to both educating the global community about the inherent dangers of nuclear weapons, and also of working tirelessly for the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.
Bikini community demands US relocation amid flooding
Tuesday 24th March 2015
A TINY Pacific community forced to evacuate their homes because of US nuclear testing is demanding refuge in the United States.
“We want to relocate to the US,” said Bikini atoll mayor Nishma Jamore at the weekend, as Pacific waters continued to eat away at the small Kili and Ejit islands in the Marshall Islands archipelago.
This 13 September 2013 video is called Climate change impact on the Marshall Islands: One island has all ready gone as sea levels rise.
Mr Jamore heads a community of about 1,000 islanders who have lived in exile on the islands for decades because their original Bikini home remains too radioactive for resettlement.
There were 24 nuclear tests conducted on the atoll in the 1950s, including the largest hydrogen bomb detonation ever conducted by the US.
Unable to return to Bikini, the islanders are now faced with increasing flooding from high tides and storms hitting their tiny island refuges, with waves washing over the islands and wiping out food crops.
“Kili has been repeatedly flooded since 2012 and we’ve asked the Marshall Islands government for help with no response,” said Mr Jamore.
There is also serious concern over a recent attempt by the Marshalls’ parliament, known as the Nitijela, to take authority for Ejit island away from the Bikinians.
This is the second time that the islanders have asked to be resettled in the US because of their plight.
In the 1980s, following an aborted resettlement on Bikini that ended with the islanders exposed to high levels of radiation, they attempted in vain to buy a tract of land on Maui in Hawaii.
BP is a British global energy company that is also the third largest global energy company and the 4th largest company in the world. As a multinational oil company (“oil major”) BP is the UK’s largest corporation, with its headquarters in St James’s, City of Westminster, London. BP America’s headquarters is in the Two Westlake Park in the Energy Corridor area of Houston.
The company is among the largest private sector energy corporations in the world, and one of the six “supermajors” (vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing companies). The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
The company has been convicted of two felonies for environmental crimes, including one felony for which BP pleaded guilty in connection with the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that caused 15 deaths, injured 180 people, and forced thousands of nearby residents to remain sheltered in their homes.
On 20 April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in excess of 200,000 gallons of oil (approx. 5,000 barrels) leaking every single day after a blow-out preventer designed to stop oil from flowing out during an emergency failed to activate. The spill was expected to continue until the blow-out preventer could be activated or another containment method implemented. Though 115 workers were evacuated from the site, eleven missing workers were presumed dead. On 28 April 2010, the US Coast Guard set fire to some sequestered portions of oil which had leaked from the uncapped well located five thousand feet below the Gulf of Mexico.
Climate-sceptic US senator given funds by BP political action committee
Sen Jim Inhofe, who opposes climate change regulation, has received $10,000 from PAC funded by donations from US staff at oil group
Sunday 22 March 2015 17.14 GMT
One of America’s most powerful and outspoken opponents of climate change regulation received election campaign contributions that can be traced back to senior BP staff, including chief executive Bob Dudley.
Following his re-election, Inhofe became chair of the Senate’s environment and public works committee in January, and then a month later featured in news bulletins throwing a snowball across the Senate floor.
Before tossing it, the senator said: “In case we have forgotten – because we keep hearing that 2014 is the warmest year on record – it is very, very cold outside. Very unseasonal.”
The BP PAC is funded by contributions from senior US executives and company staffers who sent in contributions to the PAC totalling more than $1m between 2010 and 2014. Over the same period the committee paid out $655,000 to candidates, with more than 40 incumbent senators benefiting.
Dudley has personally given $19,000 since June 2011 to the BP PAC – very close to the $5,000-a-year maximum allowable by law. Although Dudley is resident in Britain, he is eligible to give via the BP PAC because he is a US national.
Yet, BP and Dudley have long called for world leaders to intervene and impose tough regulatory measures on the fossil fuel industry. Publishing its 98-page research paper, Energy Outlook 2035, last month, BP warned: “To abate carbon emissions further will require additional significant steps by policymakers beyond the steps already assumed.”
While the sums channelled to Inhofe’s campaign represent only a small proportion of the BP PAC’s election spending and the senator’s own campaign funds, they show how unafraid the committee has been to spread its donations to the most controversial candidates. According to the BP PAC website, it financially supports election candidates “whose views and/or voting records reflect the interests of BP employees”.
Records suggest Inhofe’s 2014 campaign was a funding priority for the BP PAC, ranking as one of the top recipients of committee funds when compared with disbursements to other serving senators.
This was despite Inhofe’s senate battle not being a close one. His opponent, Matt Silverstein, who Inhofe beat comfortably in last November’s midterms, had a tiny campaign war chest by comparison.
BP was asked whether it was appropriate for the PAC to make campaign contributions to such a vocal opponent of action on climate change, or for Dudley to be contributing towards such payments.
In a statement BP replied: “Voluntary donations [by staff] to the BP employees’ political action committee in the US are used to support a variety of candidates across the political spectrum and in many US geographies where we operate.
“These candidates have one thing in common: they are important advocates for the energy industry in the broadest sense.”
The company declined to comment on Dudley’s own donations.
PACs exist in the US where companies and trade unions cannot give directly to the campaigns of those running for office. Instead funds are pooled from staff – often senior executives – into a PAC, and disbursed by a committee board, often in a manner sympathetic to the company’s lobby and other interests.
But Tillerson and other peers have not been as outspoken as BP and Dudley in calling for state intervention to tackle climate change, making the BP boss’s links to Inhofe campaign finance more controversial.
Last week Obama said it was “disturbing” that Inhofe had been made chair of the senate environment committee. In broader criticism of unnamed political opponents, he then went on to say: “In some cases you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry. And there is a lot of money involved.”
Inhofe is unabashed about election campaign financing he receives from the industry. In his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, he wrote: “Whenever the media asked me how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, my unapologetic answer was ‘not enough’.”
According to data compiled from public filings by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Inhofe’s campaign raised $4.84m between 2009 and 2014, with $1.77m coming from PACs, many of them sponsored by fossil fuel companies.
BP’s PAC was more active in the US 2014 election cycle than any other for more than a decade. Despite insisting it is non-partisan, 69% of contributions to federal election candidates in recent years have been to Republican politicians. This is a stronger bias than most other corporate PACs, according to the CRP.
There are, however, other leading recipients who have attracted criticism from climate change campaigners, including Republican House speaker John Boehner and fellow Republican, Sen Mike Enzi from Wyoming.
When asked his views on climate change in January, Boehner said: “We’ve had changes in our climate, although scientists debate the sources, in their opinion, of that change. But I think the real question is that every proposal out of this administration with regard to climate change means killing American jobs.”
“I don’t see [Obama] as trying to control pollution. I see him trying to put business out of business,” Enzi said last year.
Campaign contributions is just one aspect of US political engagement linked to BP and its staff. Filings show the oil and gas group spends millions on lobbying efforts.
The CRP classifies BP as a “heavy hitter”, ranking it among the top 140 biggest overall donors to federal elections since 1988. Its PAC ranks as the six largest such body with a sponsor company that is ultimately part of a non-US multinational.
Those on the PAC board, deciding how to spend staff donations, are senior executives and lawyers at the company. The board’s vice-chair is Bob Stout, BP’s Washington-based head of regulatory affairs, who also sits on the group’s global policy making body. Dudley does not sit on the PAC board.
According to its website, the PAC makes donations to “candidates who support the principles of free enterprise and good government, support a fair and reasonable business environment for the energy industry and share our philosophy that energy diversity advances energy security.” It says staff contributions are encouraged but stresses they are voluntary.
The first BP PAC contribution to Inhofe’s 2014 campaign was a given on 12 March 2012. This $1,000 donation came just two weeks after the publication of Inhofe’s book The Greatest Hoax, cementing his credentials as the most outspoken denier of climate change in US politics.
Publicising the book, the senator gave a radio interview on Voice of Christian Youth America. “God is still up there,” he said. “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what he is doing in the climate to me is outrageous.”