August 12, 2014 archive

State Department, Ken Salazar Still Lying About Keystone XL

Keystone climate impact could be 4 times U.S. State Dept. estimate, study says

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Sunday, August 10, 2014 6:05PM EDT

“It didn’t appear that they looked at the market implications,” said co-author Peter Erickson. “If the Keystone pipeline were to enable a greater rate of extraction of the oilsands, would that not increase global fuel supplies, which might then decrease prices and therefore allow a little bit more global consumption?

“That’s the analysis that we did here and we found that it could be the greatest emissions impact of the pipeline.”

Erickson and co-author Michael Lazarus used figures from previous research and international agencies that mathematically describe how oil prices affect consumption. They found that a slightly lower price created by every barrel of increased oilsands production enabled by Keystone XL would increase global oil consumption by slightly more than half a barrel.

The capacity of the pipeline proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) would be about 820,000 barrels a day. If every barrel of that came from new production, the annual carbon impact of Keystone XL could be up to 110 million tonnes — four times the maximum State Department estimate of up to 27 million tonnes.

Keystone XL’s Climate Impact Could Be Four Times Greater Than State Department Claimed

by Emily Atkin, ThinkProgress

August 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Opponents of Keystone XL have often made the argument that the pipeline’s construction would increase production of Canadian tar sands crude oil, an unconventional type of oil that’s embedded in sand and mud. Separating the oil from the mud is complicated – scientists say the process produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil.

But the State Department and those who want to see the pipeline built say that’s not true. “At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil,” former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has said. In other words, Keystone XL’s construction would not impact the climate because Alberta’s carbon-intensive tar sands would inevitably be developed, pipeline or not.

Erickson and Lazarus say the problem with the State Department’s assessment is that it didn’t even consider the possibility that production would increase. “There’s a lot of uncertainty that should be accounted for,” Lazarus said.

“If the pipeline doesn’t help oil sands production expand, if all the oil is gonna get out there otherwise, then there’s no increased [climate] impact. We don’t dispute that,” Erickson added. “But what we’re looking at is, to the extent that the pipeline does help oil sands expand more than it otherwise would, then there’s this climate effect and it looks to be big.”

There have been indications from both the oil industry and the federal government that Keystone XL would increase production of the Canadian tar sands. Indeed, even the top executive of the company contracted to build Keystone XL has admitted that the pipeline is essential for speedy tar sands development.

“Developing tar sands is an opportunity that’s going to be lost for decades to come if new pipelines do not immediately come online,” TransCanada CEO Ross Girling said in January. “If you miss an opportunity, you may lose it for decades and decades to come.”

The International Energy Agency has also stated that tar sands expansion “is contingent on the construction of major new pipelines,” and RBS Dominion Securities of Toronto warned that up to 450,000 barrels a day of tar sands production could be put on hold between 2015 and 2017 if the Keystone pipeline is not approved.

So why wouldn’t the State Department consider global carbon impacts in its assessment? The answer might be that there are still questions as to whether the U.S. government can legally consider worldwide impacts – whether Keystone’s potential impact on global consumption is within the State Department’s scope. It is a United States-based project, after all.

But Lazarus said that shouldn’t matter. “We need to consider, especially from a climate change stance, that emissions know no borders when it comes to greenhouse gases,” he said. “It seems imperative that wherever one is supposed to look at emissions implications of a policy, one must look at it from a global perspective.”


The Breakfast Club 8-12-2014 (Oh Captain, My Captain – Nanu, Nanu)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

On This Day In History August 12

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

August 12 is the 224th day of the year (225th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 141 days remaining until the end of the year.

It is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. It is also known as the “Glorious Twelfth” in the UK, as it marks the traditional start of the grouse shooting season.

On this day in 1990, fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson discovers three huge bones jutting out of a cliff near Faith, South Dakota. They turn out to be part of the largest-ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, a 65 million-year-old specimen dubbed Sue, after its discoverer.

Amazingly, Sue’s skeleton was over 90 percent complete, and the bones were extremely well-preserved. Hendrickson’s employer, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, paid $5,000 to the land owner, Maurice Williams, for the right to excavate the dinosaur skeleton, which was cleaned and transported to the company headquarters in Hill City. The institute’s president, Peter Larson, announced plans to build a non-profit museum to display Sue along with other fossils of the Cretaceous period.

Preparation and display

The Field Museum hired a specialized moving company, with experience in transporting delicate items, to move the bones to Chicago. The truck arrived at the museum in October 1997. Two new research laboratories funded by McDonalds were created and staffed by Field Museum preparators whose job was to slowly and carefully remove all the rock, or “matrix” from the bones. One preparation lab was at Field Museum itself, the other was at the newly opened Animal Kingdom in Disney World in Orlando. Millions of visitors observed the preparation of Sue’s bones through glass windows in both labs. Footage of the work was also put on the museum’s website. Several of the fossil’s bones had never been discovered, so preparators produced models of the missing bones from plastic to complete the exhibit. The modeled bones were colored in a reddish hue so that visitors could observe which bones were real and which bones were plastic. The preparators also poured molds of each bone. All the molds were sent to a company outside Toronto to be cast in hollow plastic. Field Museum kept one set of disarticulated casts in its research collection. The other sets were incorporated into mounted cast skeletons. One set of the casts was sent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida to be presented for public display. Two other mounted casts were placed into a traveling tour that was sponsored by the McDonald’s Corporation.

Once the preparators finished removing the matrix from each bone, it was sent to the museum’s photographer who made high-quality photographs. From there, the museum’s paleontologists began the study of the skeleton. In addition to photographing and studying each bone, the research staff also arranged for CT scanning of select bones. The skull was too large to fit into a medical CT scanner, so Boeing’s Rocketdyne laboratory in California agreed to let the museum use their CT scanner that was normally used to inspect space shuttle parts.

Bone damage

Close examination of the bones revealed that Sue was 28 years old when she died, making her the oldest T. rex known. During her life this carnivore received several injuries and suffered from numerous pathologies. An injury to the right shoulder region of Sue resulted in a damaged shoulder blade, a torn tendon in the right arm, and three broken ribs. This damage subsequently healed (though one rib healed into two separate pieces), indicating Sue survived the incident. The left fibula is twice the diameter of the right one, likely a result of infection. Original reports of this bone being broken were contradicted by the CT scans which showed no fracture. Multiple holes in the front of the skull were originally thought to be bite marks by some, but subsequent study found these to be areas of infection instead, possibly from an infestation of an ancestral form of Trichomonas gallinae, a protozoan parasite that infests birds. Damage to the back end of the skull was interpreted early on as a fatal bite wound. Subsequent study by Field Museum paleontologists found no bite marks. The distortion and breakage seen in some of the bones in the back of the skull was likely caused by post-mortem trampling. Some of the tail vertebra are fused in a pattern typical of arthritis due to injury. The animal is also believed to have suffered from gout. In addition, there is extra bone in some of the tail vertebrae likely caused by the stresses brought on by Sue’s great size. Sue did not die as a result of any of these injuries; her cause of death is not known.


After the bones were prepared, photographed and studied, they were sent to New Jersey where work began on making the mount. This work consists of bending steel to support each bone safely and to display the entire skeleton articulated as it was in life. The real skull was not incorporated into the mount as subsequent study would be difficult with the head 13 feet off the ground. Parts of the skull had been crushed and broken, and thus appeared distorted. The museum made a cast of the skull, and altered this cast to remove the distortions, thus approximating what the original undistorted skull may have looked like. The cast skull was also lighter, allowing it to be displayed on the mount without the use of a steel upright under the head. The original skull is exhibited in a case that can be opened to allow researchers access for study. When the whole skeleton was assembled, it was forty feet (twelve meters) long from nose to tail, and twelve feet (four meters) tall at the hips.

Ebola: The Ethics And Politics

The Politics of the Ebola Serum

Medical ethicist Harriet Washington explains why most pharmaceuticals companies decline to produce drugs for the developing world yet use it for clinical testing

Transcript can be read here

Transcript can be read here

The awful ethical questions at the center of the Ebola emergency

By Julia Bellus, Vox

The Ebola outbreak in Africa has confronted ethicists and health officials with a terrible dilemma: when a limited amount of an experimental treatment exists, who should get access first?

There are currently no Ebola treatments on the market. But in this deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, two Americans missionaries received an experimental Ebola drug called ZMapp after getting the disease in Liberia.

Now, infectious disease experts around the world are proclaiming that African Ebola victims should have the same right. In response, both the Obama administration and the World Health Organization set-up expert groups to weigh the moral debates around the more widespread use of untested drugs in what has now been deemed an international health crisis.

To make sense of the thorny problems at the heart of this outbreak’s morality crisis, we called medical ethicists and doctors. Here are the four questions they say they are grappling with.

1) Is it okay to skip the drug testing pathway in a crisis? [..]

2) Why did Americans get an experimental drug while hundreds of Africans die of Ebola? [..]

3) What if the Ebola drug doesn’t work? [..]

4) Who should fund access to Ebola medicines?

These are the questions that try the oath that every doctor takes, Do No Harm.

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