by Charles Lemos, Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:50:56 PM EDT
Oxy, otherwise known as Occidental Petroleum, has produced this spot asking consumers to consider how much of our world depends on petroleum based products. But in the realm of unintended consequences, the ad is a hit within the peak oil & alternative energy community simply because it drives home the point that unless we act now to replace the hydrocarbon economy that underpins our lifestyles we're doomed. Our dependency is laid threadbare literally as the ad leaves its hero in his skivvies.
David Leonhardt, the business editor over at the New York Times had a great article yesterday that I meant to touch on before the Andrew Breitbart's video lynching of Shirley Sherrod took hold of the news cycle.
This city just endured its hottest June since records began in 1872, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So did Miami. Atlanta suffered its second-hottest June, and Dallas had its third hottest.
In New York, the weather was relatively pleasant: only the fourth-hottest June since 1872. Then again, New York is on pace for its hottest July on record.
Yet when United States senators and their aides file into work on Wednesday, on yet another 90-degree day, they may be on the verge of deciding to do approximately nothing about global warming. The needed 60 votes don’t seem to be there, at least not at the moment.
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and President Obama may still find a way to cobble together the votes, as they did on health care and financial regulation. Perhaps they can somehow persuade moderate Republicans to support a market-based limit on power plant emissions — a policy that power plants themselves seem open to.
Or perhaps Mr. Reid and Mr. Obama can get Democrats to support a less ambitious set of rules that would require vehicles, buildings and power plants to meet certain energy standards. Several Republicans support that approach. Democrats are divided between thinking that it’s the most realistic chance for progress and worrying that it’s a fig leaf that may delay more significant action.
Either way, most Senate watchers, inside and out, think the odds of a major climate bill are not great. And if this White House and this Democratic Congress can’t pass one, you have to wonder what the future of climate policy looks like.
All the while, the risks and costs of climate change grow. Sea levels are rising faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago. Himalayan glaciers are melting. In the American West, pine beetles (which struggle to survive the cold) are multiplying and killing trees.
According to NASA, 2010 is on course to be the planet’s hottest year since records started in 1880. The current top 10, in descending order, are: 2005, 2007, 2009, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2004, 2001 and 2008.
Hot is the new normal.
It is not just the eastern United States that is sweltering, most of European Russia has suffered through 38 C degree weather, that's a 100 F, for a record nine days straight. In the process, over a thousand Russians have died just from drinking while swimming. Russia's wheat crop harvested from next month may come in at 51 million metric tons, down from 61.7 million tons last year, because of the heat-related drought. Overall, the annual Russian wheat crop is expected to be just 77 million tons as opposed to 97 million tons harvested in 2009. That's a 20 percent fall in Russia's wheat production, the world fourth largest producer and it has driven wheat prices to a 19 month high.
In India, the thermometer hit 50 C or 122 F in late May killing hundreds of people across Gujarat and Maharashtra states. Northern Thailand is struggling through the worst drought in 20 years, while Israel is in the middle of the longest and most severe drought since 1920s. In Britain, this year has been the driest since 1929. The Philippines also sizzled the past summer, with parts of the country registering scorching temperatures of 38.5 degrees Celsius in April. Also, Arctic sea ice has melted to its thinnest state in June.
Mexico, meanwhile, is facing a perfect storm of floods, rising heat and humidity that breed mosquitoes, prompting a big increase in the number of hemorrhagic dengue cases. While the milder form of dengue is on the decline, Mexican officials are worried about the rise of the more serious hemorrhagic form which has spiked to about 1,900 cases this year, compared with about 1,430 in the same period of 2009. So far, 16 people have died. Nor is Mexico the only place currently battling a mosquito plague caused by hotter weather. In Mumbai, a record 9,000 cases of malaria have been reported in the last fortnight.
In China, the problem is torrential summer rains. The rains, which began in May after a severe drought in southern China, are inundating cities and villages throughout the country. Well over half of China's provinces are now enduring monsoon-like downpours, flooding and landslides. Over 700 people have died so far and millions have been displaced. The rain are even putting pressure on China's massive Three Gorges Dam as 70,000 cubic metres per second, considerably higher than the 50,000 figure recorded in 1998, flow into the reservoir. As Chinese engineers cope with the increased water, Chinese authorities are recommending the permanent relocation of a further 300,000 people - in addition to the 1.2 million who have already been forced to leave their homes - to create an "eco-buffer" belt in the worst affected areas.