The National Weather Service forecasts today’s high in Los Alamos near 82 with mostly sunny skies and tonight’s low around 58. Courtesy/NWS
PLANS TO finance French infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships are attracting attention, confirmed Transport Minister Dominique Perben on December 20, six days after RFF formally invited expressions of interest for its first scheme.The infrastructure manager is consulting on the PPP concession to design, install, operate and maintain GSM-R digital radio communications on the national network (RG 8.06 p430). RFF expects to fit around 14 000?route-km with GSM-R, of which 12 000?km would be equipped under the PPP. RFF began work itself last year on a pilot project to roll out GSM-R across the east of the country, which is due to be completed by mid-2009.Total value of the GSM-R concession is put at around k650m, of which the majority would be financed by the state through Afitf. According to Perben, the use of a PPP formula will allow the work to be accelerated by three years, with completion in 2012 instead of 2015.HHaving put together the funding package for LGV Est Europ?en, Claude Liebermann was appointed last month to undertake the same role for the N?mes – Montpellier bypass, which is expected to open in 2012. This line is now costed at k1?1bn, of which the French government will contribute k600m and the EU k110m. RFF will provide another k110m, with the rest to be raised through a PPP, for which consultation is to begin by the end of 2008.n
ACCESS: DIGI Project has developed its Panda Station lift to help wheelchair-using passengers board trains.With a capacity of 350 kg, the Panda Station has an automatic brake on the drive wheel, sensors to stop ascent and descent, 20 sec fall time and a manual mode for emergency use. The battery supports 100 cycles per charge.
By Alan BaldwinFORMULA One world champion Lewis Hamilton took pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix with Mercedes team mate and overall leader Nico Rosberg set to start seventh after a grid penalty.Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg joined the Briton on the front row, only his second career top-two start, although the German was under investigation by stewards for a possible flag infringement.In a qualifying session marked by rain and dramatic suspension failures, with the finger of blame pointed at new kerbs, Hamilton made no mistake for his 54th career pole and second in a row in Austria.“It was a really fun session,” he told reporters. “Here it dries up so quickly, it’s like driving through fog at some stages. I think it just added to the excitement.“And being a new surface as well it was very, very slippery, but it was drying up corner by corner. At the end it was just about getting that last lap.”Britain’s Jenson Button ended up a remarkable third for misfiring McLaren, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth.Although Button qualified fifth, the 2009 champion moved up thanks to five-place penalties for Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ahead of him.Rosberg, who has won in Austria for the past two years and leads Hamilton by 24 points ahead of Sunday’s race, crashed in final practice and needed a hurried gearbox change, triggering the penalty.The German was just relieved to have limited the damage, thanking the team for a huge effort to get his car ready for qualifying.“Even Lewis’s mechanics came over to my car to try to get it out in time,” said Rosberg. “It was really tight.“I think Lewis just did a good job there in the very end and that’s it. Second is not first but it’s OK. The five places will be very costly of course for tomorrow but I’ll make the best of it anyway.”The final phase of qualifying took place on a drying track, with the leaderboard constantly changing and some surprising names at the top at times.The pole teed Hamilton up perfectly for a possible victory at a scenic track he has yet to master. The champion finished runner-up in 2014 and 2015.Despite a reputation for going against the general trend on safety calls, Hamilton echoed his rivals in expressing concern about the kerbs.Red Bull’s Max Verstappen broke his car’s suspension in Friday’s practice, Rosberg added his name to the list on Saturday and was followed by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Force India’s Sergio Perez in qualifying.Kvyat’s incident could have been the most serious, with the Russian fortunate not to smash into the pit lane wall after his car skewed out of control in the first phase of qualifying.“For me, looking at it, those yellow kerbs are quite dangerous,” said Hamilton.“We’ve now seen a couple of incidents already. I don’t know how many more of those it’s going to take before a car ends up in the wall and someone gets hurt.”“The idea is good because they don’t want us running wide, and using the outside of the circuit, but perhaps another solution is needed.”
As a result of a contract change with BP, over 230 Prudhoe Bay workers will be laid off in March, although they can pursue employment with the new contractor (Photo by Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)Over 260 Alaska workers — including over 180 union employees — will be laid off March 31 as a result of a contract change with oil company BP. Most of the employees were working at Prudhoe Bay.Listen nowThat’s according to a report to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, sent by the contractor, New Jersey-based Mistras Group, Inc.According to BP spokesperson Dawn Patience, the decision to end the contract was made to reduce costs amid continued low oil prices. Mistras performed inspections on pipelines and other infrastructure for BP.BP instead awarded the contract to Anchorage-based Kakivik CCI, a subsidiary of Bristol Bay Industrial. Kakivik is non-union, according to BP. Kakivik was already doing a large portion of BP’s pipeline inspection work.Kakivik spokesperson Sheila Schooner said the company is now seeking over 200 workers to fill the contract, although Schooner could not say whether the contract change would result in a net loss of jobs. Schooner Kakivik is encouraging Mistras workers to apply for the jobs.
There’s growing evidence that global warming is accelerating toward cataclysm. Global emissions hit a new high in 2018 even as coal plants continued closing. Earlier this month, researchers at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere passing 415 parts per million for the first time in at least 800,000 years. Methane, a more potent but shorter-lasting greenhouse gas than CO2, surged to a new record level in 2018, according to new data NOAA released last week, now accounting, by the Financial Times’ estimate, for one-sixth of the atmosphere’s warming capacity.Escalating fears about natural disasters and their cost have made global warming tangible just as the Green New Deal movement has reframed the climate policy debate as one of sweeping economic reforms and government-backed clean-energy jobs rather than regressive tax changes to make pollution more expensive. In the United States, where the Republican Party stands alone as one of the world’s only major political parties to make rejecting climate science part of its mainstream platform, outright denialism is losing appeal as GOP lawmakers rush to propose credible alternatives to the Green New Deal.Yet that’s done little to sway a president who’s made taunting scientists a mainstay of his prolific Twitter presence. During his first year in office, Trump proposed axing nearly 80 environmental regulations. The administration put forward a rule last year that would bar the EPA from using vast swaths of existing public health research when writing regulations. Despite widespread condemnation, the agency appears to be putting the principles into action, readying changes to the way it calculates deaths from air pollution in a move the Times said wipes “thousands” of fatalities “off the books.” The White House did not respond to HuffPost’s emailed questions about changes to the next climate assessment.EPA spokesman James Hewitt defended changing “inaccurate modeling that focuses on worst-case emissions scenarios” and that “does not reflect real-world conditions,” as a general point, but he told HuffPost “there are currently no specific efforts underway at EPA” regarding the National Climate Assessment.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lead agency on the National Climate Assessment, did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment but told the Times, “No changes are being considered at this time.” Asked about potential changes to the methodology, Interior Department spokeswoman Molly Block said of the Times story: “The information in that article is incorrect.”The Trump administration’s push comes as climate change is finally becoming a top concern for voters across the developed world. In March a Gallup poll found that 81 percent of self-described liberals, 77 percent of Democrats, and 53 percent of independents reported feeling “highly worried” about climate change. In April a CNN poll pegged climate change as a top issue for 82 percent of registered Democrats planning to vote in the 2020 presidential primary. In Europe, Spain’s Socialist Party won reelection last month with a Green New Deal as its platform issue. And Green parties surged in last weekend’s European Parliament elections. This story originally appeared on HuffPost and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.As planet-warming gases reach levels not previously seen in human history, the Trump administration’s bid to restrict how federal scientists conduct the next National Climate Assessment risks delaying urgent action required to curb emissions and climate change.But the administration effort could also backfire, becoming yet another loss for a president whose deregulatory efforts struggle to meet basic legal standards while hardening the resolve of career government researchers trying to uphold the scientific method.Last fall the White House released the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a 13-agency analysis of peer-reviewed climate science required by Congress at least every four years. The release cast a shadow over President Donald Trump’s historic assault on environmental regulations and buttressed the United Nations’ dire and widely reported warnings released a month earlier. The National Climate Assessment projected disease, death, and destruction due to extreme weather, sea level rise, and disruptions to ecological systems. More Great WIRED StoriesMy glorious, boring, almost-disconnected walk in JapanWhat do Amazon’s star ratings really mean?Moondust could cloud our lunar ambitionsAs social VR grows, users are the ones building its worldsBluetooth’s complexity has become a security risk🏃🏽♀️ Want the best tools to get healthy? Check out our Gear team’s picks for the best fitness trackers, running gear (including shoes and socks), and best headphones.📩 Get even more of our inside scoops with our weekly Backchannel newsletter “There was interference, but nobody ever said, ‘You can’t use a high-emissions scenario,’ ‘You can’t use a business-as-usual scenario,’ or ‘You can’t look out a century,’” she said. “That’s just not the way science is done. It’s crazy.” “Any effort to limit climate projections to the year 2040 would be plainly illegal,” said Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.It’s “particularly ironic” that the Trump administration suggests that “worst-case scenario” forecasts, in which emissions continue increasing relatively unabated, are unrealistic, said Susan Joy Hassol, the former senior science writer on the National Climate Assessments that came out in 2000, 2009, and 2014.“The people doing everything they can to keep us in a high-emissions scenario don’t want us to analyze the ramifications of being in a high-emissions scenario,” said Hassol, now the director of the North Carolina-based nonprofit Climate Communication.Politicizing the report isn’t a new tactic. In 2000 the incoming George W. Bush administration tried to bury the first National Climate Assessment after scientists had already completed the report. The administration then delayed the second National Climate Assessment and tried to censor entire sections. The ensuing legal battle ended up delaying the release of the report until 2009. Climate policy was an abstract concept largely limited to the federal sphere 15 years ago, but today, state and local officials are scrambling to enact regulations and laws to adapt to a hotter world and reduce emissions. If the National Climate Assessment, which includes detailed regional projections, becomes less credible, that would be a loss for those policymakers, said Bob Kopp, a climate scientist and policy scholar at Rutgers University.“It’s valuable at a state and local level, areas that don’t have the resources to do that sort of work on their own,” Kopp said. “California has a pretty intensive climate assessment, but not every state does.” Now environmental advocates are questioning officials’ suggestion that the White House might change the methodology of the next report in response to scrutiny the administration didn’t expect to receive over the last one. Admitting he hadn’t yet read the full assessment, Andrew Wheeler, then the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, accused the 300 scientists who authored the National Climate Assessment of political bias and vowed to “take a look at the modeling” to ensure “more realistic projections.”That effort appears to be making headway, according to a report published Sunday in The New York Times. It was no surprise when the Trump administration published the report on Black Friday, the shopping bonanza following Thanksgiving, in what many interpreted as a cynical ploy to bury the report. The US Geological Survey’s newly appointed director, James Reilly, a former astronaut and oil geologist, ordered the agency to limit its climate model projections to just 21 years out. That’s meant to set the stage for similar changes to the next National Climate Assessment, which is in its early stages and could be released as soon as 2021.Myron Ebell, the climate change denier at the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank who led Trump’s EPA transition team in 2017, suggested the National Climate Assessment could exclude “worst-case scenario” projections that calculate how much destruction the current rate of warming will wreak.Keeping the National Climate Assessment from projecting beyond 2040 would violate the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which explicitly requires a report that “analyzes current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and projects major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.” That change may not hold up in court. Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, The Washington Post determined in March. Two-thirds of those cases accused the Trump White House of violating the Administrative Procedure Act, the 73-year-old law that sets standards for agency rule-making to provide consistency between administrations. Federal courts have overturned 93 percent of the Trump administration’s deregulatory proposals over the past two years, according to a review of a database from New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity. Of those, more than half were environmental and climate rules.The Trump administration could try to illegally tweak the National Climate Assessment given the low bar set by the Administrative Procedure Act, said Denise Grab, an attorney and regional director at the Institute for Policy Integrity.“It’s not a terribly hard standard to meet; any agency that’s behaving somewhat rationally should be able to make it,” Grab said. “Yet even following that extremely deferential standard, the Trump administration is completely failing.”To some, the legal imbroglio may be an end unto itself.“What is pretty clear is the tactic and strategy here,” said Rachel Cleetus, climate and energy policy director at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists. “They’re trying to delay and obfuscate, and it’s all to serve the purposes of the fossil fuel industry.”