- To celebrate the International Day of Forests (which was Thursday), here's a cool video from FAO Forestry
- Some bad news from the Guardian, the drought outlook for 2013 is worse. "The historic drought that laid waste to America's grain and corn belt is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year, a government forecast warned on Thursday. The annual spring outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted hotter, drier conditions across much of the US, including parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where farmers have been fighting to hang on to crops of winter wheat.
- More bad news, now from Reuters. Katrina-like storms are likely to increase. "The extreme storms are highly sensitive to temperature changes, and the number of Katrina-magnitude events could double due to the increase in global temperatures that occurred in the 20th century, the researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
- The big domestic climate news is that the EPA is delaying regulating greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act. Brad Plummer speculates why. "So that’s the basic dilemma the EPA is now facing: Does it weaken its rule on new power plants in order to avoid getting bogged down by court challenges? The downside is that revising the rule now would create a delay. But getting struck down by the courts could create an even bigger delay."
- Bill McKibben shames a coal company for horrendous labor practices. He's been making a concerted effort to reach out to other progressive groups (he also wrote an op-ed in the LA Times about immigration). Future case study in how to build a coalition! From the coal article: "In a corporate sleight-of-hand, the promises won with a lifetime of hard work and hard bargaining disappeared first into a holding company. Now, if the bankruptcy judge agrees, they will disappear into thin air."
- 350.org responds to the State Department SEIS on Keystone XL. "While the draft SEIS recognizes that tar sands is far more carbon intensive than conventional crude, it erroneously concludes that Keystone XL would not increase tar sands production in Alberta. However, there is strong evidence that the incremental emissions above and beyond the use of the oil for transportation alone would be equivalent to the annual emissions from to over 6 million new cars on the road.13 And new data suggests that the current analyses of the impacts of tar sands under-estimate the climate impacts of tar sands pollution by at least 13 percent because they don’t account for a high-carbon byproduct of the refining process used as a cheap alternative to coal: petroleum coke.14 Therefore, the total carbon pollution impacts of Keystone XL then increase to over 9 million cars on the road when considering the total emissions to produce tar sands and the
combustion of petroleum coke."
- Amy Harder says that it's pointless for Obama to "trade" approval of KXL, because he won't get anything in return. "Democrats and Republicans alike increasingly think that Obama will approve the 1,700-mile, Alberta-to-Texas pipeline sometime this year. But after years of delay, bitter messaging wars, and even one outright rejection of the project, Republicans would welcome Obama’s approval of the pipeline with subdued optimism that probably wouldn’t create much long-lasting bipartisan goodwill for solving the big fiscal issues dividing Washington."
- Going international, there was a really interesting op-ed in the NY Times by Alexander Songorwa, Director of Wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. "ODD as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. The millions of dollars that hunters spend to go on safari here each year help finance the game reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation efforts in our rapidly growing country. This is why we are alarmed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the African lion as endangered. Doing so would make it illegal for American hunters to bring their trophies home. Those hunters constitute 60 percent of our trophy-hunting market, and losing them would be disastrous to our conservation efforts." I'm not sold 100% on this, but it's important to remember that hunters in the United States are often the best advocates for habitat conservation.
- Sean Carberry writes about timber smuggling in Afghananistan. "Ashaqullah, who goes by one name, is from Asadabad, the capital of Kunar. He is the head of the Youth Provincial Council, but even he acknowledges that he smuggles on the side. He says there is a clear system.
'A specific amount of tax is levied on each truckload of timber. The deal is made during the day between the officials and the smugglers," he says. 'The cutting and transportation goes on at night.' He says dozens of trucks carry hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of timber to Pakistan each night."
- And just because I'm obsessed with REDD+, here is Tracey Osborne with some criticisms. "REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards outline a set of principles to guide the development of safeguards, which will ultimately rest in the domain of domestic law, including free prior informed consent, local participation, and the protection of indigenous land rights. While safeguards are well meaning, I argue that the market structure they are tied to is likely to undermine them, for it consistently privileges land uses based on market value over the social needs of people within communities."