September 20, 2013 |
MOSCOW - Russian commandos armed with assault rifles and handguns seized a Greenpeace ship and detained 30 activists who were protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, Greenpeace and Russian officials said Friday. Activists aboard the the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker ship told Greenpeace officials that about 15 troops rappelled down ropes from a combat helicopter in a surprise raid Thursday night in international waters, said Maria Favorskaya, a spokeswoman for the environmental group. “At gunpoint, they rounded up all the people on board and also broke the door of the radio room, where some activists tried to barricade themselves in, ” Favorskaya said.
August 16, 2013 |
Climate change presents two distinct problems. The first is linear: A little more warming causes a little more damage. The second is nonlinear: A little more warming pushes some part of the climate system past a tipping point and the damage becomes catastrophic. We need smart climate policies that address both problems, so we can slow incremental damage while also taking out an insurance policy against the growing risk of catastrophic damage. The Arctic is a prime example of a potential tipping point.
August 6, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Last year was one of the 10 hottest since global average temperatures have been recorded, according to an assessment of worldwide climate trends by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The State of the Climate in 2012," released Tuesday, paints a sobering portrait of vast swaths of the planet transformed by rising temperatures. Arctic sea ice reached record lows during the summer thaw. In Greenland, about 97% of its ice sheet melted in the summer, far greater than in years past.
July 2, 2013 |
You just can't out-gloom an environmentalist. The Atlantic invited some luminaries to answer the question "How and when will the world end?" Some contributions were funny. Others simply plausible - a volcanic eruption from underneath Yellowstone National Park is frightfully overdue. But only an environmentalist like Bill McKibben could be a killjoy about the apocalypse itself. The environmental activist and writer declares the question moot. "In a sense, the world as we knew it is already over.
May 20, 2013 |
For decades, war has been waged over the holy grail of America's Arctic frontier, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The wide coastal plain on the edge of the Beaufort Sea contains stunning populations of caribou, grizzly, musk oxen and other wildlife -- and also an abundant pool of oil and gas. While Congress has periodically taken steps to consider opening up oil and gas development in the refuge, President Obama and many congressional Democrats...
April 10, 2013 |
SEATTLE - A third major oil company has announced it is backing off from offshore drilling in the U.S. Arctic, with ConocoPhillips saying it will put its planned 2014 operations in the Chukchi Sea on hold because of “regulatory uncertainty.” In a statement Wednesday, the company said that “evolving” federal regulations and permitting standards, put into play in the wake of Shell's troubled Arctic drilling debut last year, made...
March 26, 2013 |
Anyone forced to shovel their car out of a snowbank this winter might wonder just how it is a blizzard can occur in a warming climate. The answer, climate scientists say, may have to do with record sea ice losses in the Arctic. At a Tuesday news conference, several researchers said that warming conditions in the Arctic may be weakening jet stream currents and causing extreme weather systems to linger in northern mid-latitudes. "Ironically ... as the ice pack retreats and the Arctic heats up, there's a counteracting tendency in middle latitudes for colder winters, as well as hotter summers," said Stephen Vavrus, senior scientist at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin.
March 14, 2013 |
SEATTLE - Federal regulators said Thursday they would not allow Royal Dutch Shell to resume exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska until the company comes up with a detailed operations program and management plan for operating in the Arctic to head off the mishaps that plagued the company's debut drilling season in 2012. “Shell screwed up in 2012, and we're not going to let them screw up whenever they [resume] … unless they have these systems in place,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said after a new report found that Shell's contractors were repeatedly ill-prepared to meet the demands of operating in the harsh Arctic environment.
March 4, 2013 |
Loss of sea ice due to global warming could open new seasonal shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean by midcentury, sharply reducing transit times and opening a Pandora's box of safety, environmental and legal issues, according to scientists. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus, researchers estimated that new shipping lanes linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are likely to open between 2040 and 2059. The lanes would not be open year-round, however, and would likely be restricted to late summer, when ice cover is lowest.
February 27, 2013 |
SEATTLE - Plagued with problems with both its drilling rigs and its oil spill containment vessel, Shell Alaska announced Wednesday that it will not conduct offshore drilling operations in the Alaska Arctic this year. The decision to “pause” Arctic drilling during the upcoming ice-free months of summer will allow the company to repair and retool its troubled rigs and prepare for future operations in a program that has already cost the company nearly $5 billion. The company will continue to do offshore scientific research and conduct meetings with villagers across the North Slope in an attempt to keep the program moving and ready for resumption “at a later stage,” company spokesman Curtis Smith told the Los Angeles Times.