April 08 - 14, 2007

This column will provide links to, plus quotes and summaries of, on-line articles that might be of interest to the Infidel community. Because theinfidels.org is concerned with educational issues, the articles selected will help to inform and enlighten readers as well as entertain them. In order to conform to "fair use practices," only small segments of the articles will be quoted. One caveat: to read the entire linked article, readers may have to subscribe to on-line versions of newspapers or magazines.

Because I live in a very conservative and Christian city, I've had my fill of Easter advertising and all other things religious; even the local weather forecasters sometimes show the Cross in the five-day forecast that includes Sunday's weather prediction. So, the column this week is dedicated to news about Earth, and its short- and long-term forecast, including different perspectives on the Green Revolution. We begin with the recent decision by the SCOTUS, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to call greenhouse gas what it is--pollution, from the Los Angeles Times:

THE STAKES WERE much higher — about as high as the Earth's atmosphere — but California won a gratifying victory Monday in the Supreme Court. In a case that could easily have been called Science vs. Bush, the court ruled 5 to 4 that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming — and that states can go to court to demand that the EPA do its duty.

The decision puts pressure on the EPA to revisit the question of regulating greenhouse gases, and it adds momentum to an effort in Congress to legislate tighter controls. It also should make it easier for California to enforce its own strict controls on greenhouse gases. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California's landmark global warming law, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.

Justice John Paul Stevens' majority opinion begins with a science lesson. "A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," it reads. "Respected scientists believe the two trends are related. For when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and retarding the escape of reflected heat."

After establishing the scientific framework, the opinion disposes of two arguments for dismissing the lawsuit brought by Massachusetts, California and 10 other states: that the Clean Air Act does not cover greenhouse-gas emissions and that, even if it does, state governments lack the legal standing to sue the EPA in federal court.

Read the full story in the LA Times here...

The Christian Science Monitor has begun a series on climate change and the inaugural column includes video with snow-surveyor Richard Armijo:

SANTA FE, N.M. - It's a late March morning, and a light breeze tousles the tops of aspens and Ponderosa pines at Elk Cabin, one of the oldest spots in New Mexico for recording the depth of winter snow. Richard Armijo, a measuring stick in hand, is there to gauge this spring's snowpack.

The site, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, sits just upstream from two reservoirs that serve the city of Santa Fe. In late March, Elk Cabin should have a foot of snow on the ground, but it's nearly bare.

Like much of the West, New Mexico has endured a long drought.

According to the latest scientific evidence, such dry spells are likely to grow more severe – as they will around the world. Global warming, climate scientists say, is changing climates from the Himalayan Mountains to the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin. Patterns of rain and snowfall are shifting significantly.

The question now becomes: How will nations and individuals adapt as Earth's climate warms? Glaciers from the Andes to the Alps are shrinking at an accelerating pace. Countries are already haggling over river rights. >From 400 million to as many as 3.2 billion people face serious water shortages over the next 20 to 50 years. New Mexico, an already dry region that is getting drier, is on the front lines.

Read the complete Monitor article here...

We might all despise the current Bush administration for many things, but its undermining of science, including environmental science, will have profound long-term consequences for our country, according to the Boston Globe:

Countries and cities around the world are beginning to use a new strategy to confront climate change: preparing for its consequences.

Toronto has installed an emergency system that will alert public health officials 60 hours before the start of potentially lethal heat waves, which are expected to increase as the world warms. New Zealand is pairing engineers with local governments to strengthen infrastructure such as city drainage systems to withstand more intense rainstorms. Tiny Burkina Faso in Western Africa is researching new drought-resistant millet and sorghum to grow as rainfall decreases.

But the United States is lagging well behind. Only a handful of cities or states have begun projects or adopted regulations to accommodate higher temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and longer growing seasons.

Read the complete story here...

Some news that is hopeful, from the New York Times, about the Discovery Channel's new emphasis on Green issues:

PlanetGreen is one of the biggest efforts that a media company has made to tap into the growing movement that has spawned everything from green cars, food and architecture to green weddings and talk of a green Olympics.

Magazines like Vanity Fair, Domino, Outside and Fortune have recently published green issues, and of course, the Oscar-winning documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which featured Al Gore, is at the vanguard.

In addition to satisfying the interests of viewers, Mr. Zaslav said that advertisers now have distinct green budgets in the same way that they have online budgets.

Mr. Zaslav said that the Discovery Channel and its offspring, which includes the Animal Planet and the Learning Channel, have always championed environmental causes like wildlife preservation. However, the new cable channel would specifically promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Read the Times article here...

Encouraging news from the Miami Herald about new Green developments:

The Hidden Hollow townhomes in eastern Davie look a lot like the other developments popping up around South Florida.
Few people see the fluorescent light bulbs, the energy-saving dishwashers or the special air-conditioning filters that help make these buildings among the first truly green homes in South Florida.

The green movement has taken a long time to spread to homes, because of everything from cost to wariness among both builders and buyers. But now, with the rising price of energy and a more crowded real estate market, some small architects in South Florida are banking on green home building as a way to stand out.

''You don't have to get really exotic,'' said architect Jeffrey Evans, standing in the kitchen of one of the Davie homes. Evans already has the go-ahead for another such project in Davie. ``All the things that make the development green are readily available."

Read the full story here...

A downside to new standards for air quality, as reported by USA Today, and how these can hurt a town that is banking on older technologies like coal:

COLORADO CITY, Texas — This old railroad town has seen its fortunes rise and fall more than once in the boom-bust cycles of the oil industry and cotton farming. But nobody here ever thought prosperity would ride on the global warming debate.
With efforts to curb "greenhouse gases" that most scientists believe are heating up the planet comes a downside in places like Colorado City (pronounced call-a-RAY-da).

This county seat of 4,100 was primed for an economic windfall from a coal-fired power plant that utility company TXU Corp. planned to build. After two New York investment firms bought TXU, the new owners agreed last month to scrap the proposed 858-megawatt plant here and seven others across Texas.

Environmentalists who brokered that deal were elated because plants that burn coal to make electricity release carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

In Colorado City and surrounding Mitchell County, "there were lots of long faces," Mayor Jim Baum says. "The plant would have been our salvation, even more so than the discovery of oil."

Read the full USA Today story here...

Okay, I couldn't resist one mention of Jesus, from a report on the Savior's new health regimen, as reported in The Onion:

HEAVEN—Emerging from a grueling 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and light lifting for tone, Son of God Jesus Christ said Monday that He is "definitely on track" to achieve peak fitness condition for the Second Coming.

"If every eye is going to see Me, and all the tribes of earth are going to wail on account of Me, I think I owe it to them and to Myself to be in the best shape of My life," Christ said. "Right now I'm up to 35 minutes at seven [miles per hour] on the treadmill and benching about 165 [pounds]."

Continue the article in The Onion here...

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