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Americans and Climate Change: Scientific disconnects I

"Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action" (PDF) is a report synthesizing the insights of 110 leading thinkers on how to educate and motivate the American public on the subject of global warming. Background on the report here. I'll be posting a series of excerpts (citations have been removed; see original report). If you'd like to be involved in implementing the report's recommendations, or learn more, visit the Yale Project on Climate Change website. OK, now we're getting past the introductory stuff and into the meat of the report. The first chapter is on the challenges science and scientists face in communicating to the public about global warming. It's incredibly revealing, touching on several things we've discussed here. It's a long chapter, so I've split it into three parts. The first is below the fold.

Move your butt

Speedboat powered with ass fat.

Uh, folks, is this story real? Saving the planet can be a real pain in the butt. Just ask Peter Bethune, who's powering his speedboat with biodiesel made of fat from his backside.That's right, Wired is reporting that some dude turned his own liposuction fat into a liter of biodiesel. OK, so he admits it's just a symbolic gesture -- part of a publicity stunt to promote renewable fuels. The main event is breaking the round-the-world speed boat record in a rad-looking, biodiesel-powered boat. Assuming this isn't a hoax, is it even a good idea? I mean, leaving aside the fact that speed boats are energy hogs (and an outsized environmental offender, according to this book), does it help promote renewable fuels to link the concepts of "biodiesel" and "ass lard" in people's minds?

Energize America

With all the other stuff going on today, I completely forgot to link to something I think is going to turn out to be quite influential: The Energize America plan, put together by a group of Daily Kos contributors, is now in its fifth draft. It's impressive. I hope to say more about it tomorrow. Here's the bumper sticker version: Energize America provides an ambitious but achievable 20-point plan to wean America from its fossil fuel addiction, to dramatically and responsibly reduce GHG emissions, to rebuild America's manufacturing base, and to insulate the American economy from the effects of political turmoil, natural catastrophes and shrinking oil supplies worldwide.  

Bicycles are old school

I was riding my electric hybrid bike to the basketball court last night and stumbled upon the Ride of Silence staging area at Gasworks Park here in Seattle. Too bad I didn't have my camera. Anyone who rides a bike in Seattle is aware of the sorry state of our streets. On my way home that night I counted five potholes big enough to take out any unwary bicyclist.

The Onion

Still funny.

On speed

Just a public service announcement: speeding wastes gas. In fact, as the graph to the right shows, the typical car engine is most efficient at speeds of about 50 miles per hour (about 80 kph). Well, really there's a broad plateau from about 30 mph/50 kph to about 55 mph/90 kph. Outside that plateau, though, fuel efficiency drops off substantially. The problem is that highway traffic tends to move substantially faster than the point of maximum efficiency. Even if you wanted to save gas by, say, driving at 50 mph on the freeway, you might not feel safe among all the speedsters and tailgaters. And your feelings would probably be accurate; although the relationship between speed and safety can be pretty complicated, the evidence suggests that driving significantly slower (or faster) than the average traffic speed is a good way to get in a collision. Which in turn suggests that the way our highways are engineered may force drivers to make a choice between saving a bit of fuel and saving their lives.

America’s role in the world

What do you get when you ask young adults to produce Flash movies about issues important to them? Answer. (Via WC)

Anti-Earth Week

In response to Rep. Dick Pombo's absurd Earth Day website, the House Democrats have put together a site of their own: Anti-Earth Week. It details four anti-environmental bills that will go before the House in just this one week (and, naturally, touts the Democratic alternative). Pretty clever. (hat tip: reader BM)

An Inconvenient Truth: More reaction

More reactions are trickling in to Gore's movie. Arianna Huffington loved it, and loved Gore in it. In fact, she thinks the U.S. political class could learn a few lessons from him: ... we get a seemingly endless lineup of fear-driven candidates who, with each new election cycle, become a little more wrinkle-free, a little more foible-free, a good bit less interesting -- and considerably more idea free. They are so programmed to avoid the pitfalls of actually standing for something, we might as well have robots running. Whether Al Gore ends up running in 2008 or not, he is modeling the way our public figures, and especially our would-be presidents, should be operating -- from the heart and true to themselves. Standing for something more important than just winning, and more powerful than the fear of losing. At The New Republic, the normally snarky Franklin Foer was positively moved:

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