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by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:15:01 PM EST
Resource groups seek to dilute anti-graft rules - FT.com

Royal Dutch Shell and other natural resources companies have stepped up efforts to counteract planned anti-corruption rules that would force them to disclose payments to governments in countries where they operate.

The Anglo-Dutch group, Europe's largest oil and gas company by market capitalisation, has put forward a series of alternatives, arguing that the current proposals will have "limited impact and unclear benefits".

The new requirements for US and EU quoted businesses are designed to highlight regimes that receive large sums from selling oil, gas, minerals and forests but then siphon off the proceeds rather than reinvest locally for public benefit. The EU has proposed a series of amendments to existing rules on transparency, including detailing payments on a project-by-project basis. The union's Competitiveness Council meets this week to agree a general approach.

George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund investor who has supported the "publish what you pay" campaign, told the Financial Times: "I want to know that the companies I invest in have an open and transparent relationship with governments, so that contracts are not at risk of being torn up."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:21 PM EST
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Canada threatens EU over tar sands | EurActiv

Canada is threatening trade retaliation if the EU tries to tighten regulations on oil from its highly polluting tar sands in a Fuel Quality Directive, according to documents seen by EurActiv.

The papers emerged after a freedom of information request to see EU documents related to tar sands - also known as oil sands - was lodged by Transport and Environment, an environmental organisation. 

But the documents were only released in heavily censored form by the EU Ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros because full disclosure "would seriously affect the current trade negotiations and Canada's relations with the EU," Diamandouros said in a statement.

Negotiations between Ottawa and Brussels on an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement worth as much as $20 billion have been ongoing since 2009.

The Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht has described them as the EU's "most ambitious [free trade negotiations] so far."

But one EU `steering brief' about a June 2010 meeting between the Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Isabelle Muller, secretary-general of the oil refining association Europia, revealed how the two issues had become intertwined.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:25 PM EST
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Global permafrost zones in high-resolution images on Google Earth
Thawing permafrost will have far-reaching ramifications for populated areas, infrastructure and ecosystems. A geographer from the University of Zurich reveals where it is important to confront the issue based on new permafrost maps -- the most precise global maps around. They depict the global distribution of permafrost in high-resolution images and are available on Google Earth.

Unstable cable-car and electricity pylons and rock fall -- Alpine countries like Switzerland have already had first-hand experience of thawing permafrost as a result of climate change. If temperatures continue to rise, the problem will intensify in many places. Permafrost, namely rock or soil with a negative temperature for at least two years, occurs in the subsurface and therefore cannot be mapped directly. The existing maps are thus fraught with major uncertainties that have barely been studied or formulated. Furthermore, due to the different modeling methods used the maps are difficult to compare.

The most precise global permafrost maps

Now, however, glaciologist Stephan Gruber from the University of Zurich has modeled the global permafrost zones for the first time in high resolution and using a consistent method. In his study recently published in The Cryosphere, the scientist estimates the global permafrost regions at 22 million square kilometers -- a sixth of the world's exposed land surface. With a grid resolution of one square kilometer, Gruber's maps are the most precise permafrost maps in the world..

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:30 PM EST
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Belgrade counts cost as melting ice floes hit boats and bridges on the Danube | World news | The Guardian

Giant chunks of melting ice broke free on the Danube River on Monday, crashing hundreds of boats into each other, sweeping away several barges and sinking one of Belgrade's floating nightclubs.

The ice had closed large parts of Europe's busy 2,860-kilometer-long waterway as eastern Europe faced a record-breaking cold spell, but it started shifting Sunday afternoon because of rising temperatures. There were no reports of injuries.

Officials around the region were trying to determine whether melting snow and ice would cause heavy flooding. More than 600 people have died in the cold weather.

Ice floes up to 0.5m thick began to break up in the Belgrade area of the Danube, damaging boats and crashing into pontoon bridges. A barge restaurant, called Alexander, was sunk, officials said.

They hoped that water levels in the Danube, lowered by the drought last year, would help Serbia avoid flooding like that which has hit Bulgaria and Greece.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:34 PM EST
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Mobile marine reserves may end slaughter of endangered sea life - Nature - Environment - The Independent

The indiscriminate slaughter of vast numbers of turtles, sharks, albatrosses and other endangered marine animals that get unintentionally caught by fishermen as "by-catch" could be prevented by a radical proposal of mobile marine reserves, scientists said yesterday.

Protected areas of the ocean where commercial fishing is banned would work far better if they were not static conservation areas, as they are at present, but moveable reserves that take into account the mobile nature of sea life, they said.

The idea for migrating reserves has come about as a result of a revolution in satellite and tagging technology that has allowed scientists to routinely monitor the seasonal movements of marine creatures, which would have been impossible a decade ago.

Scientists said that existing marine protection areas (MPAs), where fishing is controlled to enable wildlife to recover, frequently fail to do their job because the endangered animals simply migrate to unprotected regions where they get caught accidentally by nets and fishing lines.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:40 PM EST
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NASA - NASA Spacecraft Reveals Recent Geological Activity on the Moon
New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft show the moon's crust is being stretched, forming minute valleys in a few small areas on the lunar surface. Scientists propose this geologic activity occurred less than 50 million years ago, which is considered recent compared to the moon's age of more than 4.5 billion years.

A team of researchers analyzing high-resolution images obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) show small, narrow trenches typically much longer than they are wide. This indicates the lunar crust is being pulled apart at these locations. These linear valleys, known as graben, form when the moon's crust stretches, breaks and drops down along two bounding faults. A handful of these graben systems have been found across the lunar surface.

"We think the moon is in a general state of global contraction because of cooling of a still hot interior," said Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and lead author of a paper on this research appearing in the March issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. "The graben tell us forces acting to shrink the moon were overcome in places by forces acting to pull it apart. This means the contractional forces shrinking the moon cannot be large, or the small graben might never form."

The weak contraction suggests that the moon, unlike the terrestrial planets, did not completely melt in the very early stages of its evolution. Rather, observations support an alternative view that only the moon's exterior initially melted forming an ocean of molten rock.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:59:45 PM EST
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Fukushima manager dismisses fears that reactors are overheating again | Environment | The Guardian

The manager of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan has conceded that it will be very difficult to remove the facility's melted nuclear fuel, but dismissed fears that one of the damaged reactors had started overheating again.

"Our main challenge is to now remove the nuclear fuel from the reactors," Takeshi Takahashi told visiting journalists on Monday. "Technically it's a very difficult problem, but we want to take it step by step."

Takahashi apologised repeatedly for the turmoil last year's accident at the plant had caused the people of Japan, and thanked the international community for its support.

Three of Fukushima Daiichi's six reactors suffered meltdown in the hours after Japan's north-east coastline was devastated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on the afternoon of 11 March.

More than 100,000 residents from the area have had to leave their homes, and are unsure when, or if, they can return.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 05:00:31 PM EST
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They don't even know where the fuel is, or even if it's all still in the reactor containment. It's certainly not in a tidy package that can be removed. The best case is a molten mass, occasionally fissioning, half fused into the bottom of the containment structures.
Defueling of TMI's single partial meltdown took 11 years and cost a billion 1980's dollars. TEPCO doesn't even have the money to consider cleaning up the mess from several full meltdowns. Takahashi is a lying ass-hat.
by Andhakari on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:34:16 AM EST
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Climate scientist Peter Gleick admits he leaked Heartland Institute documents | Environment | guardian.co.uk

A leading defender of climate change admitted tricking the libertarian Heartland Institute into turning over confidential documents detailing its plans to discredit the teaching of science to school children in last week's sensational expose.

In the latest revelation, Peter Gleick, a water scientist and president of the Pacific Institute who has been active in the climate wars, apologised on Monday for using a false name to obtain materials from Heartland, a Chicago-based think tank with a core mission of dismissing climate change.

"My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts - often anonymous, well-funded and co-ordinated - to attack climate science," Gleick wrote in a piece for Huffington Post.

The admission - nearly a week after Heartland's financial plans and donors' list was put online - looked set to further inflame the climate wars, in which a network of fossil fuel interests, rightwing think tanks and politicians have been working to block action on climate change.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:44:23 AM EST
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Words fail.

Of course Gleick can't admit he wrote the two-page document that is almost certainly a fake, it would be an admission of forgery.

But even if he would've received it from an anonymous source, the fact that Gleick, as a scientist, uncritically added it to the pile of official documents speaks for itself.

With friends like these, AGW proponents hardly need enemies.

by Nomad on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:17:12 AM EST
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Nomad:

Of course Gleick can't admit he wrote the two-page document that is almost certainly a fake, it would be an admission of forgery.

Any particular reason you think he wrote it himself?

Nomad:

But even if he would've received it from an anonymous source, the fact that Gleick, as a scientist, uncritically added it to the pile of official documents speaks for itself.

From what I understand, what he did was to send it anonymously to journalists. In what way do you mean he added it to the pile of official documents?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:14:10 AM EST
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is that he received the two-pager from an anonymous source, which inspired him to go on a fishing expedition to see if he could confirm the information in it.

If this is the case, he certainly made a blunder in sending it out with the other documents.

Heartland are very embarassed about the release, and it will almost certainly diminish their funding, as the named donors have every reason to be embarassed too.

The sort of dishonest lobbying-disguised-as-science that Heartland, and the shills on their payroll engage in, deserve to be exposed.

This is the story. How the evidence came to light is secondary.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:16:02 AM EST
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eurogreen:
This is the story. How the evidence came to light is secondary.

You think Rathergate wasn't a story?

It certainly is a bit of a story that Heartland Institute is pushing an anti-climate change agenda - not that no one realised before. But more surprising is the kind of budget they're working with - which doesn't look particularly impressive.

But an AGW-proponent muddying the water by adding a controversial document from an unreliable source, at minimum, or adding a forged document written by his own hand, at worst, that doesn't help persuading the risks of anthropogenic climate change, to the contrary.

That's handing the loaded shotgun to your opponents.

by Nomad on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:39:13 PM EST
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is a red herring, because the entire story was a fabrication.

No, the most likely explanation is that Gleick was indeed taken in by the two-pager. (Bear in mind that Heartland initially said that it "appears to be" a forgery, i.e. it seemed fairly plausible even to them).

So I'd class that as a minor embarassment.

As for the fact that Heartland has a relatively small budget for climate obfuscation, well that's a good thing, and this affair is unlikely to make it bigger...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dismissing a comparison with Rathergate on the ground just one document was apparently forged is frankly ludicrous. And I note that you didn't answer my question.

eurogreen:

No, the most likely explanation is that Gleick was indeed taken in by the two-pager

Occam's Razor does not agree with a scenario like that.

Peter Gleick Confesses to Obtaining Heartland Documents Under False Pretenses - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic

You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute.  It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland's opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion.  Do you:
A.  Throw it in the trash
B.  Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance
C.  Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.
As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always "A" or "B", never "C".

As for classing this a "minor embarassment"...

Well.

If it was minor, AGU and NCSE would not have spoken out against his actions. If it was minor, the focus of the media would've been solely on the Heartland Institute documents. They haven't, it isn't.

This is about a scientist purposefully committing identity fraud, theft and most likely forgery with a cause to "sex up" a controversy.

Do I, as a former scientist, really need to spell out to you the immediate and severe damage this does to the reputation of climate scientists or climate science in general?

Dismissing this is hardly reality based, it's hand-waving.

Politically engaged climate scientists are a problem, not a solution.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:10:29 AM EST
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Nomad:
Dismissing a comparison with Rathergate on the ground just one document was apparently forged is frankly ludicrous. And I note that you didn't answer my question.

Well let's see.

Someone fabricated some documents to make Bush look bad. Rather's team at CBS were taken in, and broadcast a segment on the network news that subsequently caused everyone concerned to resign or be fired.

If you take the forged documents out, the news segment has nothing substantive : the rest was a bunch of people's opinions.

The question of whether the documents in question were legally obtained does not appear to have arisen; and had they been authenticated, I suggest that it wouldn't have mattered. The importance of the news would have been sufficient to outweigh any illegality. Furthermore, if CBS, alerted by the forgeries, had subsequently illegally obtained genuine documents demonstrating that Bush was a deserter or whatever, then "Rathergate" would not exist (nor, plausibly,  Bush's second term).

In the case of the Heartland documents, if you take out the forgery, it's still newsworthy, because the rest of the documents have been authenticated, and contain all the substantive information anyway.

And the news value of their content outweighs any illegality, in my view. YMMV, of course.

There is no scientific fraud on Gleick's part, only "journalistic fraud", if you will.

A question for you, Nomad : if it had been a journalist who was not a scientist (Gleick is both) who had perpetrated the fraud, would that also damage the reputation of client scientists? If so, why?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:56:17 AM EST
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For the answer. I hope to weigh in with a diary another day.

And I agree, Gleick didn't commit scientific fraud in this case. More likely he committed felonies.

eurogreen:

A question for you, Nomad : if it had been a journalist who was not a scientist (Gleick is both) who had perpetrated the fraud, would that also damage the reputation of client scientists? If so, why?

Likely not. But it might have damaged journalism as profession - as licensed journalists generally need a damn good reason, like a matter of national security, for using identity theft. Not the case for exposing Heartland Institute's annual budget.

But please stop copying Scott Mandia's meme or list me Glecik's credentials as a journalist. Gleick is an "internationally recognized climate and water expert" first, an author second, and a blogger at several sites third. Oh, and he is (was?) a "defender of scientific integrity". That makes him a citizen-journalist - which is not to say it is not valuable. Yet pretending Gleick is up to the same journalist standards as, say, the Guardian's Leo Hickman is false.

Secondly, there is hardly anything "journalistic" about Gleick's tactic, as Megan McArdle makes clear. What remains is fraud.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 06:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he just got fired as columnist for the LA Times. So maybe he's an ex-journalist.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 04:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
published in Forbes also.

I agree with this comment :

climatespin: Peter Gleick is still a good scientist

Peter Gleick is a trained scientist but amateur journalist.  His general-interest writing on water and climate issues is actually quite good.   Doing science and doing journalism are two different things.  If Dr. Gleick committed some kind of ethical lapse in his journalism exploits, that shouldn't have any impact on his standing as a scientist.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 04:10:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
are writers, not journalists. Journalists, being writers, can be columnists. The reverse doesn't apply that quickly.

Gleick can't, and doesn't, boast on any of his public profiles I've seen about his wide ranging journalism exploits but underlines his position as scientist. Climatespin, indeed.

As Gleick was to be the Chair of the AGU Scientific Ethics committee, there is little doubt that also his standing as a scientist is ruined.

What should remain unblemished is his scientific research and publications.

by Nomad on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:30:01 AM EST
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