TransCanada Pipeline Explodes In Manitoba, Leaving Thousands Without Natural Gas (VIDEO)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Thousands of Manitoba residents were without natural gas to heat their homes and businesses for a third frigid day on Monday, following a weekend explosion along a TransCanada Corp pipeline in the Western Canadian province.

The temperature on Monday morning in southern Manitoba hovered around -29 Celsius (-20 Fahrenheit). The electricity grid continues to operate.

The explosion and fire happened early Saturday near Otterburne, Manitoba, about 50 km (31 miles) south of the provincial capital, Winnipeg. No one was hurt in the blast, which a witness said shot flames up to 300 meters into the sky.

The incident interrupted the supply of natural gas to 4,000 residents and other customers, although TransCanada arranged for tanker trucks to deliver compressed natural gas to a hospital and nursing homes.

TransCanada was working on restoring the gas supply to the area in two stages, starting with residents and other customers north of the damaged pipeline, said Scott Powell, spokesman for Manitoba Hydro, a provincial government-owned energy company.

Powell said he could not estimate when gas might flow again, since TransCanada is handling the work, but said Monday night might be a possibility.

TransCanada did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. On Sunday afternoon, the company sai南京桑拿会所

d it had no estimate of when gas supply will be restored.

Among those affected, privately owned Bothwell Cheese Inc was forced to halt production on Monday because its equipment relies on natural gas.

“Everyday we’re (normally) producing over six figures worth of cheese, so if we can’t make that up and we end up losing that, it will impact our revenue by that much,” Bothwell Chief Executive Ivan Balenovic said in an interview.

Balenovic said the employees he had spoken with were able to find ways to keep their homes heated.

Saturday’s explosion on one pipeline may also have damaged two other lines, which were taken out of service, according to Xcel Energy Inc, a Minneapolis-based energy company that relies on natural gas from pipeline service provider Viking Gas Transmission, which is supplied by TransCanada.

By Sunday afternoon, one of the pipelines was back in service, and Xcel senior vice-president of operations Kent Larson said the company expected to be operating normally by Monday afternoon.

Xcel lifted an earlier appeal to customers in North Dakota and Minnesota to turn down their thermostats to conserve gas, and said it would likely do the same for western Wisconsin customers around noon Monday.

TransCanada Corp’s mainline pipeline system supplies natural gas from Western Canada to markets in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. northern tier states. However shipments on the system, which uses a number of separate lines, have waned as shale gas from fields such as the Marcellus in the Eastern United States supplant more distant supplies.

The incident comes as the safety record of pipeline operators faces increased scrutiny.

Plans are under way for construction of several export terminals on the Pacific Coast with the aim of making Canada, the world’s No. 3 producer of natural gas, an exporter of liquefied natural gas to Asia.

Some of the new terminals would require new gas pipelines.

Shares of TransCanada rose slightly on Monday morning to C$48.48 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.


a’s National Energy Board and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the blast.

Urban Blending and the Mythical Search for 'Congruity' in the City

Last week, a colleague in my day job contacted me in search of an expert witness in a large American city. This ask for a recommendation — and its premise — was not unusual for a pending design review process. His client needed a credible opinion that proposed development, flanking a current urban open space, would be “incongruous” with the existing use.

For many, a dramatic contrast in height, bulk and density is the recipe for “incongruity.” But, in a larger sense, don’t today’s urban centerpieces by definition show the latent “incongruities” of city life?

Think of Chicago’s Millennium Park, and its multifaceted and controversial history of funding snafus, cost overruns and debates about building aesthetics, security practices and public access. Should default discussion about an urban project really be focused first on surrounding building height and modulated, architectural solutions (sometimes termed “density with grace“)?

Actually, urban blending and any associated quest for balance are much broader topics, and my response to my colleague above was both quizzical and consistent with the premise of my “urban juxtapositions” series recently summarized in Planetizen: Once a potential urban overlap, overlay, or “juxtaposition” emerges, the search for harmony and agreement should travel far beyond physical limits, in a comprehensive fashion not limited by ambiguous words.江苏夜网


Many “experts” opining on tall, “densifying” edges of public open space are actually more concerned with broader issues, such as funding mechanisms that pay for the open space and improvements, as well as other key, urban “go-to” disciplines, including transportation and housing. This breadth of focus can lead to a very different view that leverages “incongruity” as the inevitable urban solution.

In other words, the “incongruity” that some would malign as an uneven landscape of height and imbalance, becomes a treasure-trove of irregular, provocative architecture and investment.  This investment generates aesthetic and monetary capital to enhance, and not detract from, the public realm nearby.

. . . .

As often happens, consideration of these issues reminded me of something more fundamental and traditional — a mix of human imprints on the natural environment that I have written about before, a world away.  In Iceland,  I characterized much of what I saw there as an unforgettable balance of human settlement and dramatic surroundings.

As I said last year both here and in Atlantic Cities:

In Icelandic landscapes, in small towns, and in the resurgent capital city of Reykjavik, are scenes and stories that transcend nature, culture and the built environment. In the imagery of such places, we see scaled expressions of urban settlement and transport, both past and present, including dramatic examples of human interactions with the raw elements of nature.

In these photographs, the visual juxtaposition of fishing village and glacier, of small buildings and sky, is to me, nothing short of astounding. The harmony and agreement—the “congruity” that is the foil of this story—is clearly present where churches and outbuildings on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula  honor natural surroundings with simplicity and scale.

In the city, can we, and should we, aspire to such purity?

How much should regulations, and battles of noble NIMBY and developer, dance around the prospect of such resplendent and ideal visions?

While under our regulatory system, the whims of subjective citizen commissioners may be kept honest by largely objective city staff, project proponents will almost always argue the real cost of materials and the balance of profit that complicate the limited aesthetic orientation proffered above. In a “densifying” urban core, the marketplace often varies from an implementable, smaller scale of development.

The point of showing a vision as clear as the Snæfellsnes Peninsula — supplanting for a moment Millennium Park’s big city dimensions — is not to dwell in a nostalgia of lesser scale overseas. Rather, by showing examples of authentic harmony and agreement — at least as I see them — we can distinguish the balance humans still carry out in the raw landscapes of simpler places from the vocabulary of balance we often seek downtown.

. . . .

When faced with a juxtaposition such as the problem presented — an “incongruous” urban development — I have learned both as practitioner and pundit not to dwell on the perfect extremes sought by proponents and detractors.  Client permitting, I would rather spend time with the inherent compromises necessary when the discussion inevitably moves toward the merger of public and priv江苏城市论坛

ate realms.

If we remember these nuances in urban setting today, we will better understand that balance and “congruity” are not absolutes, but end-games with multiple meanings, dependent on context, and careful reflection.

Images composed by the author in Chicago and Hellnar and Budir, Iceland. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanistAll Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effortan e-book from Island Press.

This post first appeared in similar form in myurbanist as the eighth entry in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter.

Tokyo Electric Power Co Criticized Over Radiation Readings At Fukushima Plant


By Mari 南京人上南京夜网


TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Japan’s nuclear regulator has criticised the operator of the stricken Fukushima plant for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.

Almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi station, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) still lacks basic understanding of measuring and handling南京桑拿论坛

radiation, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said on Wednesday. The utility has been widely criticised for an inept response to the March 2011 disaster.

Tepco said last week that groundwater drawn from a monitoring well last July contained a record 5 million becquerels per litre of dangerous radioactive strontium-90 – more than five times the total beta radiation reading of 900,000 becquerels per litre recorded in the well, which is around 25 metres from the ocean.

Tepco said there was a calibration mistake with one machine measuring strontium levels of well water at the plant, and it had also found an error with devices that decipher all-beta radiation.

“Something like this cannot happen … This (data) is what becomes the basis of various decisions, so they must do their utmost to avoid mistakes in measuring radiation,” Tanaka told reporters, though he added the mistake did not pose a serious safety risk at the plant.

The legal limit for releasing strontium 90, which has a half life of around 29 years, into the sea is 30 becquerels per litre.

A Tepco spokesman said the utility will re-check all-beta radiation readings of groundwater in light of the record strontium levels.

Last year, radiation leaks, power outages and other mishaps sparked international concern and prompted Japan’s government to step in with more funds and support. As part of a turnaround plan approved by the government last month, Tepco hopes to re-start its biggest nuclear station, Kashiwazaki Kariwa, this summer.

Tepco in November began the hazardous process of removing hundreds of brittle spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building at Fukushima. It said last week it had removed about 9 percent of more than 1,500 unused and spent fuel assemblies in the reactor’s storage pool. (Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Ian Geoghegan)

Illinois Strip Mine Showdown Is Last Best Hope for Coalfield Justice

When besieged residents, already choked by toxic coal dust, face off with Peabody Energy officials on Tuesday, February 18, in Harrisburg, at an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hearing for a five-year strip mine expansion permit, more than 1,019 paltry acres will be at stake.

As President Lincoln once invoked in a moment of crisis, the courageous residents in the showdown at Cottage Grove are “our last best hope.”

For an electioneering Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and federal environmental officials now under the spotlight in West Virginia coal disasters, Tuesday night’s hearing will be a historic litmus test for anyone remotely concerned about civil rights, community rights and the spiraling water crisis from Illinois’ reckless and dangerous coal rush.

But faced with losing their homes, farms, health — and sheer sanity — from the blasting, potential flooding and non-stop industrial war-zone traffic of coal operators within 300 feet of their living rooms — southern Illinois residents in Cottage Grove with deep coal mining roots are finally taking a stand for coalfield justice.

Illinois deserves better, Gov. Quinn.

On one level, Tuesday’s night IEPA hearing is a meaningless charade of a corrupt and completely rigged mine permitting process — as an inept IEPA official declared at a similar strip mining hearing three years ago in Macomb, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has NEVER rejected a strip mining permit, at least in his memory. In fact, the strip mine near Macomb, already under state investigation for 600-plus Clean Water Act violations, received its permit. And last month, after federal officials forced the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to halt illegal logging by Peabody, the state officials simply shrugged and told a local newspaper that the “violation, though it will now become part of 南京夜网

the application review, is not expected to derail Peabody’s chances for a permit because it is taking corrective steps.”

Ever since Peabody sank its first historic coal mine in nearby Williamson County in 1895, paying children and laborers 25 cents a box for hand-loading two thousand pounds of coal in deadly conditions, southern Illinois coal miners like my grandfather and family members have taken a fearless stand for coalfield justice, galvanizing the United Mine Workers and Progressive Mine Workers movements for over a century.

Just last year, retired Peabody and Patriot union mine workers were engaged in a long battle for their very lives, health care and pensions, seemingly lost to a shameless bankruptcy scheme. After months of protests and negotiations, and litigation, Peabody finally came to the table for a retirement health fund for coal miners who had given their lungs and lives to the region’s mines.

Illinois deserves better, Gov. Quinn.

Isn’t it a disgrace enough that the state of Illinois remains in violation of the state law for a lack of mine safety inspectors, and state regulatory officials and politicians take contributions from the very coal companies they regulate — and at the same time, Illinois is giving millions of dollars of subsidies and charity hand-outs to out-of-state multinational corporations like Peabody Energy, which recorded over $7 billion in revenues last year?

In fact, over the past few years, Peabody has already received an estimated $5.7 million in several state-funded welfare checks, including tax giveaways for its Cottage Grove strip mine:


Illinois already loses $20 million annually, according to a recent study, maintaining the heavily mechanized coal industry.

Isn’t it a disgrace enough that Illinois, unlike West Virginia, is greenlighting the injection of toxic and deadly coal slurry in abandoned mines, knowingly jeopardizing the watersheds of residents and farms?

Isn’t it a disgrace enough that Illinois ranks at the top of a recent survey of the most spills and cases of contamination from toxic coal ash?

Illinois deserves better.

So do the courageous residents, farmers and retired coal miners, who will make history on Tuesday in Harrisburg, as they defend their lands and livelihoods — and our state — from a reckless strip mine.

Lincoln asked our country: “It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate 南京夜网找桑拿好地方

to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

It’s time to act anew and launch a Coalfields Regeneration Fund for southern Illinois — instead of throwing its residents to the whims of a boom and bust cycle of out-of-state coal companies.

Disenthrall yourself, Gov. Quinn, save Cottage Grove and its residents and waterways from this disaster.

Bonobos Keep Time To Music Like Humans, Study Shows

Gary Vestal via Getty Images

By Irene Klotz

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Some animals, like humans, can sense and respond to a musical beat, a finding that has implications for understanding how the skill evolved, scientists said on Saturday.

A study of bonobos南京首家武侠式生活娱乐社区

, closely related to chimpanzees, shows they have an innate ability to match tempo and synchronize a beat with human experimenters.

For the study, researchers designed a highly resonate, bonobo-friendly drum able to withstand 500 pounds of jumping pressure, chewing, and other ape-like behaviors.

“Bonobos are very attuned to sound. They hear above our range of hearing,” said Patricia Gray, a biomusic program director at University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Experimenters beat a drum at a tempo favored by bonobos – roughly 280 beats per minute, or the cadence that humans speak syllables. The apes picked up the beat and synchronize南京夜网

d using the bonobo drum, Gray and psychologist Edward Large, with the University of Connecticut, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It’s not music, but we’re slowing moving in that direction,” Large said.

Related research on a rescued sea lion, which has no innate rhythmic ability, shows that with training, it could bob its head in time with music, said comparative psychologist Peter Cook, who began working with Ronan the sea lion while a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Scientists suspect that the musical and rhythmic abilities of humans evolved to strengthen social bonds, “so, one might think that a common ancestor to humans and the bonobo would have some of these capabilities,” Large said.

The addition of sea lions to the list suggests that the ability to sense rhythm may be more widespread.

Gray and Large said they would like to conduct a study on whether bonobos in the wild synchronize with other members of their species when they, for example, beat on hollow trees.

“That’s really coordination. Now, you’re talking about a social interaction,” Large said. “If your brain rhythms are literally able to synchronize to someone else’s brain rhythms, that’s what communication is potentially all about.”

Gray and Large’s research was conducted at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida.

Chicago Plastic Bag Ban Has Enough Support To Become Law, Sponsor Claims


The lead proponent of a proposa南京夜网

l to ban plastic bags in Chicago says he has enough support for his legislation to become law.

Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) told the Chicago Sun-Times his plastic bag crackdown has the 26 votes of support lined up that it needs to become law — despite the current proposal being even broader and more strict than the version that stalled last summer.

“I’m very confident we have the votes,” Moreno told the paper. “We’ve been kicking this around for years. I’m not a very patient guy, but I’ve been patient on this. It’s time to move.”

The previous proposal excluded retailer establishments smaller than 5,000 square feet from being required to only offer reusable shopping bags to customers, but the updated proposal now includes those smaller retailers as well, the Associated Press notes.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has previously opposed a plastic bag ban in Chicago, describing it in a 2013 letter addressed to the City Council as “tantamount to a tax on grocers” that would ultimately saddle consumers with higher prices.

For his part, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has remained “neutral” on the proposal’s previous incarnations and Chicago isn’t the sort of city where any proposal becomes law without the mayor’s backing.

The mayor’s office sai南京最具人气的夜生活门户网站

d in an emailed statement to the Sun-Times they “have not yet reviewed this proposed ordinance, but share Ald. Moreno’s commitment to ensuring a cleaner Chicago.”

Moreno has previously reported an estimated 3.7 million plastic bags are being used citywide daily and that between 3 and 5 percent of them become litter, getting stuck in drains causing flooding, clogging landfills and jamming recycling machinery.

Meanwhile, in California, where cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco have already banned the bag, a push for a statewide ban is underway. Hawaii already instituted the nation’s first statewide ban of plastic bags available at checkout counters.

Willie Nelson's 'America The Beautiful' Takes Aim At Mountaintop Removal (VIDEO)

Award-winning country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson is joining the fight against mountaintop removal — a surface mining practice that involves clearing, blasting and processing mountaintops or ridge lines for coal.

This rendition of “America the Beautiful” from Nelson and the Natural Resources Defense Council begins like any other patriotic tribute to the American 南京人上南京夜网

landscape, but soon takes a dramatic turn. Images of cleared forests, blasting mountains and creeping coal sludge provide a sharp contrast to the song’s lyrics, and highlight how devastating this practice is to the Appalachian communities and ecosystems.

The new video was released just before the House of Representatives passed the “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Min南京桑拿按摩会所哪里有

ing Jobs in America Act,” a bill that would codify a 2008 stream buffer zone rule from the Bush administration that allowed mountaintop mining companies to dump debris into streams and other waterways. The Obama administration pledged closer scrutiny of mountaintop removal waste disposal permits shortly after taking office, and last month a federal court struck down the Bush-era rule for violating the Endangered Species Act. The recent bill, which likely won’t pass the Senate, would almost certainly be vetoed by President Obama.

Mountaintop removal mining has serious health and environmental consequences. Over 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia have been contaminated from this practice, and 240 species of plants and animals are threatened by it, according to the Sierra Club. Additionally, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice reports that rates of cancer, birth defects and chronic cardiovascular mortality are elevated in areas where mountaintop removal occurs.

Cable Networks Largely Ignore Major Climate Change Report

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NEW YORK -– The New York Times led Monday’s paper with an ominous headline potentially affecting everyone on Earth: “Panel’s Warning On Climate Risk: Worst Is To南京夜网


A major new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailed how climate change is already impacting the planet, including rising sea levels, increasingly acidic oceans, melting ice caps and brutal heat waves. The report, according to the Times, “cited the risk of death or injury on a widespread scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.”

But such dramatic findings weren’t treated with similar urgency Monday morning on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The three cable news networks largely ignored the IPCC’s findings between 6:00 a.m. and noon, according to a search using media monitoring service TVEyes.

CNN briefly mentioned the U.N. report during two news roundups, speaking about it for roughly 40 seconds of airtime out of six hours.

However, CNN found plenty of time to devote to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The network has been obsessively covering the mystery for several weeks, regardless of whether there’s any new information to report.

CNN led its 6 a.m. morning show, “New Day,” with a roughly 10-minute report and discussion on the plane, featuring analysts. Later that same hour, CNN aired a roughly seven-minute segment on the ongoing search in the Indian Ocean. And just before 7 a.m., co-host Chris Cuomo again jumped back to the missing plane story, with a correspondent in Perth, Australia, and analysts talking for nine more minutes. CNN returned to the story several times throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, MSNBC spent about 20 seconds on the IPCC report during the same six hours, according to TVEyes. (Though host Joy Reid took a deeper dive into it during the 2 p.m. hour.) Fox News, which has long cast doubt on the climate change, despite overwhelming scientific consensus, unsurprisingly ignored the report.

It’s possible that primetime cable news shows will devote more time on Monday evening to the IPCC report. But the lack of attention throughout the morning was notable considering how a relative newcomer to the U.S. cable market handled the story南京人上南京夜网


Al Jazeera America covered the report more comprehensively during the 9 a.m. hour than CNN, MSNBC and Fox News combined in the six hours analyzed. In addition to detailing the report’s findings, AJAM demonstrated the real-world impact in a report about how some Bangladeshis have been forced to leave their homes because of rising sea levels.

It’s not as if AJAM is the only cable news network with the ability to quickly pivot to the climate change report, which was released early Monday in Yokohama, Japan.

CNN Newsroom devoted a few minutes to the climate change report Monday morning, but only during an hour in which either U.S. insomniacs or international viewers were likely tuning in. CNN covered the IPCC report at 3:22 a.m., and then later that hour turned to Exeter University professor Neil Adger, one of the report’s lead authors, to discuss his work for 3 1/2 minutes.

Got Science? This Climate Smear Spurred a Hate Mail Barrage


Lawrence Torcello, a philosophy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, never imagined he would become the focus of a vicious barrage of hate mail when, last month, he published an article in a British online journal about the ethics of climate change misinformation.

But, sure enough, in recent weeks, Torcello has been subjected to death threats, racial slurs, anti-gay and anti-Semitic epithets. He’s been called a fascist, a Stalinist, a Nazi, and a communist. One of the many contemptible emails he received, for example, reads simply: “DIE you maggot.” An anonymous phone message ominously threatens that he’ll “be paid a visit.” In all, Torcello estimates that he has been subjected to more than 700 harassing calls, emails and tweets.

What did Torcello do to attract such a response?

He raised the ethical issue — in an academic venue, no less — of how society should contend with those who knowingly disseminate misinformation about climate science.

Sadly Familiar

Before delving into the particulars, it’s important to note that Torcello’s case highlights an increasingly common form of harassment that is all too familiar to scientists and other researchers who have spoken out about climate change. Eminent climate scientists such as Michael Mann and Benjamin Santer have faced similar intimidation and even death threats. Mann was likened in print to a child molester; Santer was subjected to a dead rat on his doorstep, among many other similar incidents.

Torcello’s case is particularly interesting, though, because he appears to have fallen victim to precisely the type of disinformation campaign he decried as he saw his argument distorted beyond recognition by media outlets that thrive on half truths and politically charged controversy, whipping up the ire of an ugly and angry fringe in the process.

A Philosophical Argument

It should be clear to anyone who actually reads Torcello’s article that he is wrestling with the philosophical question of how society should hold to account those who willfully distort climate science and disseminate misinformation. Of course, it’s more than an academic question because it is a well-known fact that fossil fuel interests have long been underwriting a disinformation campaign specifically designed to block climate action and confuse the public about the issue.

Torcello argues from a moral and philosophical standpoint that those who purposefully engage in misinformation campaigns ought to be considered criminally negligent. As he explains, the core idea of criminal negligence as a legal and moral concept is that people can be held responsible when they fail to exercise reasonable care that takes into account the potential harm their actions may cause to others. And, as Torcello rightly contends, climate misinformation campaigns are already causing widespread harm.

While you might reasonably disagree with Torcello’s argument, of course, it’s hard to imagine his views leading to a barrage of hate mail until you see the way certain media outlets chose to distort his views.

Blatant Distortion

The first blatant distortion江苏夜网

of Torcello’s argument appeared on Breitbart, a right-wing website, in an article which inaccurately alleged Torcello was saying that “scientists who don’t believe in catastrophic man-made global warming should be put in prison.” That inflammatory piece of misinformation was soon picked up on sites including The Daily Caller and FoxNation.

The Drudge Report stretched the distortion of Torcello’s article even further, erroneously contending that he had “called for the incarceration of any American who actively disagrees that climate change is solely caused by human activity.” Of course, Torcello had never said anything of the kind.

Nonetheless, a variety of climate misinformers quickly jumped in to further fan the flames. Blogger Anthony Watts branded Torcello “despicable” and urged his readers to contact Torcello and his institution. Britain’s Lord Christopher Monckton, a longtime climate contrarian, wrote to the provost of the Rochester Institute of Technology questioning Torcello’s fitness “to hold any academic post at the Institute.”

Torcello says he is grateful that his university came strongly to his defense, issuing a statement that both defended his academic freedom and underscored the scientific consensus about human-caused global warming. But he still marvels at the phenomenon.

“It still seems incredible to me that so many people would bother to write me or call me without actually having read my article,” he says.

Disinformation: The Real Issue

Fringe groups can whip themselves into a frenzy all they like, but it doesn’t change the fact that Torcello’s academic article raises an issue of real import.

We’ve known for years and even decades that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity is leading the planet to dangerous and potentially catastrophic climate change. The latest report from th夜网知识

e Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues the most sober warnings yet about the imminent threat we face.

All the while, we’ve known too that some fossil fuel interests, such as ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, have purposefully and often underhandedly worked to confuse the public about the dangers their actions are causing to the planet. A detailed, peer-reviewed study by Robert Brulle at Drexel University offers a comprehensive analysis of the way these carbon producers and others have bankrolled front groups dispensing climate disinformation.

Meanwhile, recently published research documents that nearly two-thirds of the industrial carbon pollution released into the atmosphere since 1854 can be directly traced to the carbon extracted from the Earth by just 90 entities — 83 producers of coal, oil, and natural gas, and seven cement manufacturers.

So our understanding of who’s actually driving climate change is becoming all the clearer. In that sense, questions like Torcello’s are gaining urgency: how should those who knowingly disseminate disinformation about climate change be held to account? And what kind of responsibility do the major carbon producers have for climate-related damage they continue to cause to people around the globe?

Fighting Back

Regardless of the answers we ultimately find to those questions, it is clear that a reasonable debate does not include hate mail and harassment.

Unfortunately, however, Torcello’s case is common enough that my colleagues at the Union of Concerned Scientists decided to publish a primer offering helpful pointers about how harassed scientists should respond, including:

  • avoid getting pulled into debates with people who only seek to waste your time,
  • respond only through mainstream sources or your own blog,
  • and keep records of harassing messages, contacting authorities if they become threatening.

Torcello says that the response he has received has shown him that “those seeking to distort the findings of climate science are equally willing to distort philosophical and political argument with blatant acts of dishonesty.” It’s a sad reality that those who write about climate change now must prepare for this sort of harassment and that universities and other organizations need to be prepared to support their employees during such assaults as well.

Still, even ugly harassment can’t be permitted to shut down a debate whose time has come.

Seth Shulman, senior staff writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, is a veteran science journalist and author of six books whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Discover, Nature, Technology Review, Parade and many other publications. You can sign up to receive his monthly Got Science? column via email at the Union of Concerned Scientists website: