Week's Top Enviro Stories: Fracking, Nukes and More

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A drilling team from Minard Run Oil Company pull out steel pipe during a fracking operation at a 2100 foot natural gas well in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania.
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Global Carbon Pollution Still Rising
One of the big questions in the climate change debate: Are humans any smarter than frogs in a pot? If you put a frog in a pot and slowly turn up the heat, it won't jump out. Instead, it will enjoy the nice warm bath until it is cooked to death. We humans seem to be doing pretty much the same thing. Despite three decades of talk about the risks of global warming, we learned this week that we are still doing nothing to turn down the heat. Global carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels in 2010 hit 30.6 billion tons, the highest ever. One economist calls it "another wake-up call." Is anyone listening? [USA Today]

The Republican Wish List
Drill everything, mine everything, roll back regulations, tweak the science, expedite permits. Sound familiar? The Republicans offer up more 19th-Century solutions to our 21st-Century energy problems. [New York Times]

Our Fracking Future
As if so-called "cheap" coal weren't bad enough, now we have so-called "cheap" gas. So you can go ahead and postpone that dream of a renewable energy revolution for another decade or so, a top executive at General Electric says. "More gas [power plants] than wind and solar will be built [in the 10 to 20 years]," said Steve Bolze, the head of GE's power and water division. "Gas is a good alternative to being 100% renewable." It's a good alternative, that is, if you're in the business of making gas-fired turbines, as GE is, and if you don't give a shit about hitting carbon pollution reduction targets. [Guardian]

Germany to Close Nuclear Power Plants
Who needs nukes? Hoping to avoid a teutonic version of the Fukishima meltdown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week that Germany will close all of its nuclear power plants over the next 11 years. “We believe that we can show those countries who decide to abandon nuclear power — or not to start using it — how it is possible to achieve growth, creating jobs and economic prosperity while shifting the energy supply toward renewable energies,” Merkel said. Now tell that to the French, Angela. [Washington Post]

Australia Gets the Message on Climate
Australia has suffered a decade of drought, epic floods, a Category 5 cyclone, and a plague of locusts.  But just because Aussies have the biggest carbon footprint in the world, it doesn't mean they're stupid.  A recent survey of 3100 Australians found that 74 percent believe the world's climate is changing, and 90 percent said human activity was a factor. "It's clear that people want the government to do something about climate change and they also feel they have a personal responsibility to act," environmental and social psychologist Professor Joseph Reser said. [Sydney Morning Herald]