Daily Meme: A Bike Ride in the Shadow of Keystone

  • Anniversaries always prove a convenient shortcut for news organizations to create content, and we've all replied in kind to commemorating the year since Hurricane Sandy belted the East Coast. Climate change has unsurprisingly been a repeated refrain.
  • Especially since our rapidly changing environment means that an upcoming line-up of similar storms is all but certain.
  • By 2050, annual flood losses around the globe could total $63 billion. In 2005, it was $6 billion.
  • "Of course coastal storms aren't the only hazard," says a climate scientist at NASA. "We also need to think about extreme heat events, which could be an even more deadly killer in the future." Great. 
  • And the poorest and least able to weather the problems that follow in a environmental disaster's wake are of course the most affected by these events—as well as the least able to advocate for policy changes to prevent this from happening in the future.
  • Despite all the scary statistics and incontrovertible proof offered by the broken neighborhoods and economic losses left by storms past, politicians haven't felt much obligation to act. 
  • One science writer's explanation for the lack of movement on the issue? "I think there’s not a lot of leadership or enterprise in science and environmental writing as we would hope given cutbacks in the mainstream media. Reporters on this story, as well as others, tend to be a little reactive rather than proactive."
  • Another nugget of climate news always ready to inspire hand-wringing and apathy in equal measure that's back in the news: Keystone XL. The southern end of the controversial pipeline is ready to start carrying oil.
  • In Texas, another pipeline—owned by the Kochs—spewed 17,000 gallons of oil all over Fayette County.
  • Those on both sides of the debate are impatient for the White House to make the decision they've been sitting on for five years. 
  • Especially since the wait has left those in the peanut gallery—like an architecture firm counting Exxon as one of its clients—proposing odd auxilliary projects like a bike path along the pipeline environmentalists are deadset on vanquishing.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are trying to speed up the application process for other pending pipelines...
  • Jonathan Chait thinks that betting all their chips on the tar-sands oil pipeline was a huge mistake for environmentalists. What they should have done? Made EPA regulation of existing power plants the sexy issue du jour. 
  • Seventy-four percent of voters in 11 states with competitive Senate races next year think those EPA regulations are a good idea. 
  • In other climate news, Al Gore is back on the green beat, trying to get big business to change their ways in the name of glorious profit.

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