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April 27, 2014: Tragedy on Everest, Rowing Across the Pacific, Wrestling Mongolians and More

Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week his guests reflect on the dangers of climbing Mount Everest after the recent tragedy, row a boat across the oceans and bike across continents to circumnavigate the globe, discover what it is like to be a kid in Mongolia, learn what happened This Weekend In History, detect land mines in Cambodia, travel in style with your dog companion, discover new ways which drug trafficking is cutting down the rainforest, gave through space and time with the world’s most powerful satellite array, and understand why Sherpas climb deadly peaks on Wild Chronicles.

Supreme Court Divided After Hearing on EPA Authority

In a hearing Monday, the Supreme Court questioned whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is correct in its interpretation that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles triggers the requirement to also implement permitting requirements for large stationary sources. At issue is the legality of EPA’s interpretation of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations. Industry groups argue that the PSD…

Tougher Efficiency Standards Ordered for Large Trucks

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his administration will begin developing tougher fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The new standards will build on a 2011 regulation that set the first-ever fuel standards for model years 2014–18. The next phase—for models beyond 2018—will be proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department’s…

Report Warns of Sudden Climate Change Impacts

Hard-to-predict sudden changes to Earth’s environment are more worrisome than larger but more gradual impacts of climate change, according a panel of scientists advising the federal government. A 200-page report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences repeatedly warns of potential climate “tipping points” beyond which “major and rapid changes occur.” And some of these changes—happening in years…

EIA: Carbon Emissions Decline

In 2012, energy-related carbon emissions in the United States declined 3.8 percent even as global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The recorded 5.29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide amounted to the largest decline since 1994, continuing a downward trend that started in 2007. EIA attributed last year’s decrease to several factors, including a mild…

Using the Clean Air Act to Regulate Carbon Emissions

In an attempt to address global changes in climate, the Obama administration set specific deadlines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Clean Air Act to cut carbon dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants. Just weeks away from the deadline for release of proposed rules for new power plants (full disclosure: Duke scholars will…

European Union Rejects Carbon Market Solution

The European Union Parliament rejected a proposal to backload the auctioning of credits within its Emissions Trading Scheme this week. The proposed “backloading” plan would have removed a surplus of emissions permits from the world’s largest carbon market—potentially saving it from collapse and making fossil fuels more expensive for utilities and factories to burn. The surplus, partly a result of the…

Carbon Tax Is a Popular Topic in Washington

Since China announced it will hold off plans to introduce a carbon tax, the idea has generated some activity on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a draft bill that would charge the largest industrial polluters a fee for, or carbon tax on, their fossil-fuel emissions. The plan, proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Rep. Earl…

Obama Announces Leaders of His Energy, Environment Team

After weeks of speculation, President Barack Obama officially announced his selections to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday. Gina McCarthy was chosen to lead the EPA, replacing Lisa Jackson, while Ernest Moniz will take over as energy secretary, replacing Steven Chu. Together, Obama said, they are charged with “making sure that we’re investing in…

U.S. Makes Strides on Climate Change

As Grist puts it, contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is making progress on climate change. Overall, the country’s carbon emissions fell 1.7 percent last year—in part because of the explosive growth of natural gas and the Great Recession. Looking at energy-related carbon emissions in the last five years, the U.S. has experienced a roughly…

Obama Moves Ahead with Oil Sanctions as Gas Prices Climb

Before Congress headed home for spring recess, the Senate, with a rate vote of 100, approved President Obama’s new round of sanctions designed to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The president’s decision was based on an analysis of current oil supply and the likely effect of further sanctions on prices. The Senate also shot down the president’s bid to reduce subsidies to oil producers. Oil…

Now All GOP Presidential Candidates Express Climate Skepticism

GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman expressed skepticism about the science on climate change, so now all GOP candidates are on the record as doubting either that the planet is clearly warming, or that people are responsible for most of the warming. Of all the GOP candidates, Huntsman had been the most supportive of action on climate…

Australia’s Wild Weather May Have Helped Push Carbon Tax

Although Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard had promised before to not enact a carbon tax, floods, bush fires, heat waves, and drought reawakened discussion about putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This week, Australia’s House of Representatives narrowly passed a carbon tax, sending the bill to the country’s Senate, where observers say it is almost certain…

Solar Industry “Darwinism” Weeding Out Weaker Companies

Solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which recently filed for bankruptcy, got special treatment from the Obama administration, some have alleged, since the company’s $535 million in federally guaranteed loans had much lower interest rates than those of other green energy companies, according to an investigative report. The FBI raided Solyndra’s office, although it would not comment on the…

Japan, Germany Struggle With Nuclear Power Slowdown

With a large share of their nuclear power plants down at the moment, both Japan and Germany are scrambling to meet energy demand and figure out how to get by without nuclear in the future. Two-thirds of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are currently down, most of them for maintenance and testing. To cope with the…