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Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned. The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives. The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes. "We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise," she said in an interview. Related:  ecology

The End of the Industrial Revolution - Paul Gilding - Independent writer & advisor on sustainability. What a privilege it is to be alive in these times, in such a significant period in human history. It’s not always easy to see moments of great historical importance when you’re in the middle of them. Sometimes they’re dramatic, like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the landing on the moon. But more often the really big ones appear, from within them, to be unfolding in slow motion. Their actual drama and speed then only becomes clear in hindsight. That’s how it will be with this. Hang on, you’re thinking. Hiding behind those entertaining devices, information overload and exciting new companies, the real bulk of the economy is still being driven by those dirty belching smokestacks and is still being shaped by those who inherited the economic momentum of 19th century England – the coal, oil and gas industries. For those of us focused on social change, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this. Now we shift to the third great wave, the world post the industrial revolution.

The Methane Beneath Our Feet by Bill McKibben Insouciant New Yorkers—here is another pending disaster to shrug off with characteristic brio! There is a huge, ongoing gas leak beneath your very feet. A team of natural gas experts recently commissioned to survey the New York system has found vastly elevated levels of methane in locations all over Manhattan, a clear indication that Con Ed’s 4,320-mile network of pipes, dating back to the 1800s, is corroded, full of holes, and spewing methane into the atmosphere. The main danger here is to planetary, not personal, safety: though it has received relatively little attention, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is second only to carbon dioxide on the list of greenhouse gases that are inducing climate change. This unhappy news actually comes as little surprise to those who have been following the issue of gas leakages in recent months. More methane is accumulating in the atmosphere; the uptick began in 2007.

US media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets | Glenn Greenwald The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality. One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered - thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower - that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. And now, yet again, the US media has been caught working together to conceal obviously newsworthy government secrets. That is the key truth.

Centrica withdraws from new UK nuclear projects | Environment Energy company Centrica has abandoned its plans for building new nuclear reactors in the UK, blaming rising costs and construction delays. The move is a blow to the government's aspirations to build the most ambitious fleet of new reactors in Europe, and comes on the day MPs severely criticised the management of nuclear waste at Sellafield and after Cumbria county council rejected proposals for a deep burial site to permanently dispose of the waste. Centrica will forfeit its 20% option on four new nuclear plants planned by EDF in Somerset and Suffolk, writing down £200m in the process. Centrica's exit means no major UK company remains involved in plans for new nuclear reactors in the UK, but Centrica retains its 20% stake in eight existing nuclear power stations. Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, said: "We believe that nuclear generation has a valuable role to play in a balanced UK energy mix. Source: World Nuclear Report, and Guardian research

U.S. Effort on Ocean Acidification Needs Focus on Human Impacts A federal plan to tackle ocean acidification must focus more on how the changes will affect people and the economy, according to a review of the effort by a panel of the National Research Council. "Social issues clearly can't drive everything but when it's possible they should," said George Somero, chair of the committee that wrote the report and associate director at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station. "If you're setting up a monitoring station, it should be where there's a shellfish industry, for example." Acidification is one of the larger problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions, as oceans serve as a giant sponge for carbon dioxide. Decreasing shellfish populations would harm the entire ocean food chain, researchers say, particularly affecting people who get their protein or paycheck from the sea. The acidification blueprint was drafted by nine federal agencies in March 2012. Somero said the agencies will take the recommendations and "tune up" the plan.

‘Industrial Scale’ Hunting of Migratory Amur Falcons in Nagaland, India Every year thousands of migratory Amur falcons (Falco amurensis) are hunted by locals in the Indian State of Nagaland during their passage through that region. The massacre was first documented on November 1, 2012, by Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan on the Indian online campaign site ‘Conservation India‘ where they wrote that “a mind-boggling 120,000 to 140,000 birds are being slaughtered in Nagaland every year during their passage through the state.” Every October, a large numbers of Amur falcons arrive in northeast India and Bangladesh from Siberia en route to their final destination — Somalia, Kenya and South Africa. Amur falcons travel up to 22,000 km in a year, in one of the longest migration routes of all birds. Amur Falcon (Falco Amurensis). The Amurs spend the day on the transmission wires (almost entirely inaccessible to hunters) and descend to forested patches along the banks of the reservoir to roost (see map). Now the shocking figures: Birdlife International wrote:

Girl soldiers face tougher battle on return to civilian life | Global development Girl soldiers are often thought of only as "sex slaves", a term that glosses over the complex roles many play within armed groups and in some national armies. This thinking contributes to their subsequent invisibility in the demobilisation processes. In fact, girls are frequently the most challenging child soldiers to rehabilitate. The broad categorisation of girl soldiers as victims of sexual abuse obscures that they are often highly valued militarily. Some have argued that disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes are ill-equipped to address the needs of girls. A January World Bank briefing, Children in Emergency and Crisis Situations, said: "The use of girls [by armed forces] has been confirmed in Colombia, DRC [the Democratic Republic of the Congo], Timor-Leste, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda and west Africa. Girls often conceal their association with armed groups, Richard Clarke, director of Child Soldiers International, told IRIN. Seeking gender equality Duality

EDF's vengeful £5m No Dash for Gas lawsuit is corporate and PR suicide | George Monbiot | Environment "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" The current answer to Alexander Pope's question is the power company Électricité de France (EDF). It is suing 21 climate change activists for £5m as a result of their week-long occupation of its power station at West Burton in Nottinghamshire. In doing so it has made the biggest strategic mistake since McDonald's pursued two impoverished activists - and inflicted more damage on its brand than its critics had ever managed. Already the company's customers are leaving in droves, and letting other people know why. The people who occupied the power station's chimney in November last year were prompted to act by the highest motives. For this, EDF, a company largely owned by the French state, has decided to ruin them. Scarcely a human freedom has been obtained without the help of public protest. By comparison to its predecessors, the environmental movement is remarkably peaceful and restrained. But I was not quite up to date.