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Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting 2019 will be one of the five hottest years on record. “We are now pulling even with 2017 as the second hottest year to date, and we’re virtually certain we will have a top five hottest year on record,” Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section for NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, said in a call with reporters to review the agency’s monthly climate report. July captured headlines as the planet's hottest month on record, following a record-breaking June. Details and figures shared by NOAA scientists in their July analysis indicate alarming trends that show how climate change is producing extreme weather in every corner of the country. “Climate change is definitely the reason we are very near the records" and surpassing them, Arndt said, comparing the world’s trajectory to the steady climb of an escalator. July’s unusual weather patterns were particularly impactful in coastal areas, with Washington, D.C., seeing as much rain in one hour as it normally gets all month.
As greenhouse gases go, methane gets less attention than carbon dioxide, but it is a key contributor to climate change. Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2 and is reabsorbed into terrestrial cycles via chemical reactions within 12 years or so. But while it’s up there, it’s much more potent, trapping heat at roughly 84 times the rate of CO2. Scientists estimate that around 25 percent of current global warming traces to methane. When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, the chain between cause and effect is frustratingly long and diffuse. Reduced emissions today won’t show up as reduced climate impacts for decades. But with methane, the chain of causation is much shorter and simpler. Reduced emissions have an almost immediate climate impact. It’s a short-term climate lever, and if the countries of the world are going to hold rising temperatures to the United Nations’ target of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial baseline, they’re going to need all the short-term climate levers they can get. In the real world, though, the news about methane is bad and getting worse. It turns out that a mysterious recent spike in global methane levels that’s putting climate targets at risk may be coming from US oil and gas fracking. If that’s true, it’s bad news, because there’s lots more shale gas development in the pipeline and the Trump administration is busy rolling back regulations on the industry.
The accountant who blew the whistle on Bernie Madoff’s scheme is blowing the whistle again with a new report attacking GE’s (GE) accounting practices. In a 175-page report posted online, forensic accountant Harry Markopolos and his fraud team allege that GE is committing $38 billion in accounting fraud. “[I]t’s the biggest, bigger than Enron and WorldCom combined,” he wrote. “In fact, GE’s $38 Billion in accounting fraud amounts to over 40% of GE’s market capitalization, making it far more serious than either the Enron or WorldCom accounting frauds.” Markopolos is calling GE “GEnron,” because the company appears to be “using many of the same accounting tricks that Enron did.” At the center of his investigation are eight long-term care insurance deals that GE executed. The report alleges that the GE has been hiding “massive loss ratios” and “exponentially increasing dollar losses.”
Eight House Democrats are pushing automakers to join several fellow vehicle manufacturers in signing a deal with California that would sideline the Trump administration as it works to roll back fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. In a letter to 14 automakers on Wednesday, Democrats from the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition pleaded with them to join the deal, calling it “an important alternative to the administration's proposal to gut public health protections, reduce climate pollution, and create regulatory certainty for automakers.” The deal between the California Air Resources Board and Honda, Volkswagen, Ford and BMW of North America gives the companies an extra year to meet standards that are nearly as ambitious as those developed under former President Obama. Under the July deal manufacturers would produce vehicles that could average 50 mpg by 2026, undercutting efforts by the Trump administration to freeze standards at 37 mpg. The letter from House Democrats follows an earlier one signed by 30 Senate Democrats that also encouraged other automakers to join the deal.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is backtracking on a controversial proposal to allow the use of cyanide bombs to kill wild animals in an effort to protect livestock. EPA officials had made the change in a recent interim decision, authorizing the use of M-44 chemical trap devices to manage populations of coyotes, foxes and other wild animals. But the decision last week immediately lead to an outcry from environmental groups who called it inhumane. They also said it can be risky for humans and cause injury.