Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: global warming

March
5th

The environmental case for the Keystone pipeline

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

A massive new environmental study strengthens the case for building the Keystone XL oil pipeline. That’s good news for the Pacific Northwest.

The State Department’s new environmental impact assessment concluded that Alberta’s tar sand oil is going to find a way to international markets. It also pointed out the obvious: The planned pipeline is both safer and cleaner than the probable alternatives, which include relentless rail shipments to a fleet of tankers in Northwest waters.

The Keystone pipeline – which would allow shipments of crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries – has become the bete noire of many American environmentalists. Its critics raise many objections, including the risk of spills.

But pipelines – as opposed to trucks, rail cars and ships – are the least risky way to move petroleum and natural gas. The United States is already laced with 2.6 million miles of pipelines; a 1,700-mile addition with state-of-the-art safety features would pose no special threat to the lands it passes through.

The real concern is that most of the petroleum from Alberta’s vast tar sands formations would ultimately be burned as fuel, thus contributing to climate change. Many pipeline opponents believe that if they stop the Keystone project, they can keep that crude locked in the earth.

Not so. As the assessment concludes, Canada can find other ways to transport its tar sands oil to willing buyers. It doesn’t need Keystone, which requires approval by President Obama.
Read more »

Aug.
16th

Hot enough for you? Expect it to get worse in coming years

After months of drought, many creeks and ponds in the Midwest are dry or close to it, like this one in central Illinois. (Seth Perlman/The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

It’s getting harder and harder to be a climate-change denier. July was the hottest month on record in the United States – the previous record was in July 1936 at the height of the Dust Bowl disaster – and much of the country is experiencing the worst drought in memory.

It won’t stop some from insisting that nature, not man, is to blame for hotter temperatures. But climate experts increasingly are coming to believe that although some droughts are part of natural cycles, the hotter temperatures are largely human-caused – and they’re making the droughts worse than they otherwise would be.

The consequences are dire – and expected to worsen in the next decades. This year’s U.S. corn crop has been devastated and is expected to be down at least 13 percent from last year, even though a record number of acres were planted. The soybean crop is similarly affected. Read more »

Aug.
30th

Climate change: At least science admits its errors

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

One of science’s great strengths is its tendency to self-correct. That strength is on display this year as climatologists respond to some tough attacks on the way they’ve presented global warming to the public.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got the world’s attention in 2007 when it concluded that the planet was indeed heating up and human industrial activity was indeed the chief cause. These findings reflected immense research and the combined authority of hundreds of leading scientists.

But winning over scientists can be a lot easier than winning over public opinion. Most citizens aren’t likely to pore through hundreds of studies and evaluate the credentials of their authors. Americans in particular are hard-wired to distrust official dictates and scientific orthodoxies.

So the cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has taken some devastating hits as skeptics have gleefully pounced on errors and overstatements in the 2007 report to the United Nations.

The most embarrassing was an assertion that the Himalayan glaciers could be entirely melted in 2035 – an unsubstantiated factoid that appears to have found its way to the IPCC by way of environmental zealots.
Read more »

Aug.
15th

To its shame, U.S. is playing a starring role in disaster

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

If current climate-related events were turned into a Hollywood disaster movie, it might be called “Meltdown!” Some scenes:

• In Russia, the hottest summer on record has temperatures above 100 degree for the first time. Drought has devastated the wheat harvest and led to fires that are choking an entire region with toxic smoke that has contributed to a dramatic rise in Moscow’s mortality rate.

• Pakistan is experiencing its heaviest monsoons on record, killing more than 1,500 and leaving millions homeless. Record rains have also struck China, leading to deadly landslides.

• A 100-square-mile chunk has broken off the Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland, and the Arctic ice cap is melting at an unprecedented rate.

Welcome to the future, brought to you by global warming. Read more »

Dec.
7th

Prefab opinion on climate change

From Editor & Publisher magazine comes this global warming editorial that dozens of newspapers are reprinting verbatim.

Someone must not have heard the term “groupthink.” Or else they wanted to provide the perfect illustration of it.

56 Papers in 45 Countries Publish Joint Editorial

Published: December 06, 2009

NEW YORK Tomorrow 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the perhaps unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. Many if not most will publish it on the front page, warning of a “profound emergency.”

The Guardian of London, which helped draft the editorial, published it today, with a note at the end. Here it is:

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.
Read more »

Nov.
23rd

Climate change science doesn’t need idea police

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A formidable majority of atmospheric scientists believe that planet Earth is slowly heating up and that human industry bears much of the blame. That’s good reason to worry about global warming and do something to stop it.

It’s not good reason to suppress the views of scientists who challenge the majority view. Science could hardly survive without its contrarians and skeptics.

The Do Something camp was thrown on the defensive a few days ago after anonymous hackers released thousands of e-mails and other documents that – at first blush – put some researchers in a nasty light. Stolen from a British university, the messages point to deliberate efforts to shut up dissenting scientists, even cripple their careers.

In one exchange, the director of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit talks about keeping papers from two skeptics out of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the pre-eminent scientific forum on global warming.

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” wrote Phil Jones to Michael Mann of Penn State. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is.”

Translation: Before we’ll tolerate dissent that meets the ground rules for scientific publication, we’ll change the ground rules.
Read more »

Oct.
6th

Russell Investments’ not-so-green commute to Seattle

This from a disappointed member of the keep-Russell-in-Tacoma team. He asked to remain nameless, but his numbers look credible:

See below for ‘irony of the month.’ Russell signs enviro protocol while it decides to throw 700-900 employees into single occupancy vehicles onto I-5 every morning, more than tripling most of their employees’ daily commutes. Can’t have it both ways.

Our analysis, which we shared with Russell, shows that in the aggregate Russell employees will spend an additional 373,880 hours per year in their cars (if the company left Tacoma). This is 474 more hours per commuter per year. Based on IRS mileage reimbursement rates, Russell employees would see an additional cost of commuting of $4.5 million per year. We used actual Russell employee zip codes so this takes into account the few people whose commutes will be shorter.

In terms of miles traveled, the Seattle commute will result in 8,225,360 additional miles traveled annually by employees.
Read more »