Brain food for your day of rest
Tabs, tabs, so many tabs open. Time for a whirlwind tour of my browser!
Got a website? Here are 11 carbon-neutral hosting options.
Environmental websites that effectively use graphics and imagery to convey the scope of a problem. I particularly like Gapminder.
The Energy Justice Network has a nice, compact fact sheet on the myth of clean coal. Pass copies out to your friends.
The biggest American banks are investing billions of dollars in new coal plants that are going to fry the planet. That’s a bad thing. Luckily, the Rainforest Action Network is targeting banks that finance coal plants. I’m optimistic about these kinds of interactions between civil society and markets, where the former helps shape the latter and leaves government out of the loop. Like Amory Lovins said in our interview: "In a tripolar world of business, civil society, and government, why would you want to focus on the least effective of that triad?"
It can’t be said enough: the coal-to-liquid industry is possible only if its profits are guaranteed by taxpayers. Now why would we do something like that?
Thomas Homer-Dixon on destabilizing climate feedback loops.
Tyler Cowen says that carbon taxes may have counterintuitive results, but the paper to which he refers, and his description of it, are so thick with economist jargon that I have only the faintest clue what the point is. Maybe an economist in our audience can translate?
Want to know where carbon sequestration is really going to go? It’s going to go to the oil industry, to help it recover more product, which then gets burned and releases more carbon. Awesome.
A depressing but unfortunately accurate commentary from Matt Welch about public transit, making the simple point that people who can drive almost always will.
The debate over global warming is growing … warmer among evangelicals. On one hand, you have sane evangelicals worrying that coal is the enemy of the human race. On the other hand, you have fruitcakes like this guy:
Mr. Brown was not impressed. God, the pastor said, is "sovereign over his creation" and no amount of coal-burning will alter by a "millisecond" his divine plan for the world. Fighting environmental damage is "like chasing rabbits," he recalls telling her. It just distracts from core Christian duties to spread the faith and protect the unborn.
Worldchanging has a conversation with Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben. Lots of good stuff, but particularly like Hawken’s compact and spot-on summary of where America is now:
The United States is a confused place, traumatized by war, confused by its media, underserved by its health care system, insecure economically, arrogant in its policies, and unsure of its identity. The country as a whole is internalizing the inner climate of so many, and this gnawing rise of anomie is eating away at the core.
The peak game seems to be escalating. Now we’re talking about peak energy, which, sure enough, means we’re all doomed.
With all due respect to Mssrs. Shellenberger & Nordhaus, the debate over what to do about global warming did not begin when they published their book. And with all due respect to Wired’s Mark Horowitz, he seems to have bought S&N’s self-mythologizing hook line and sinker.
Turns out spewing sulfur particles into the air to mimic the shading effect of volcano eruptions might not be the best idea. Mark me down as predicting that other geoengineering ideas will collapse upon greater scrutiny.
CQ Weekly has an excellent, comprehensive piece making a point that I think both greens and their opponents fail to fully appreciate: climate change legislation is a huge, huge deal:
“This is the largest-scale policy problem I’ve ever seen,” said Brooks Yeager, vice president of the nonpartisan Climate Policy Center and a former U.S. negotiator on environmental issues. “If it’s not the biggest thing Congress ever does, it’s one of the biggest two or three, ever. The scale and scope would be at least at the level of the New Deal, or Social Security.”
Climate-change legislation would not just be an environmental bill — it would also be a farm bill, a labor bill, a humanitarian bill, a defense bill, a tax bill and a foreign policy bill.
What happens in this session of Congress (or maybe the next) is going to affect every nook and cranny of our economy and our lives, in ways that are all but impossible to predict in advance. Legislators are understandably terrified of it. Let’s not let go of urgency, but let’s also practice a little patience and empathy. We’re all on this scary ride together.
The Economist explains how game theory can help solve global warming.
USA Today notices that achieving energy independence and fighting global warming are different undertakings, and that Republicans care only about the former.
The title of this Economist piece — "Ethanol, schmethanol" — is awesome, as is the first line: " Sometimes you do things simply because you know how to." Indeed. The bulk of the article, however, is devoted to attempts (like LS9′s) to synthesize ethanol in ways that don’t require massive monocrops or cutting down rainforests.
Several studies have now shown that U.S. motorists do not pay their own way — i.e., the tax and fee payments charged to motorists do not cover the costs of building and maintaining roads.
Toyota’s going for electric over biofuels.
It was awfully peculiar, wasn’t it, when the head of the Nature Conservancy abruptly resigned? You just know there’s backstory there. Anybody want to send me top-secret info on it? I’m happy to meet in a parking garage with a porkpie hat and an overcoat on.
Dear parents: Please don’t send your children out on railroad tracks to pick coal.
I knew this would happen, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon: The feds are talking about buying out some 17,000 homes on Mississippi’s Katrina-ravaged coast and reverting the area to coastal wetlands. Naturally, they’re running into stiff opposition from people who view it as their God-given right to live wherever they want, even if the rest of us have to keep bailing them out when the inevitable storms come. The fact is, though, that the climate warming already in the pipeline — no matter what we do to reduce emissions going forward — means we’re going to have to start retreating from the coasts. We can do it ugly or pretty, but we’ll have to do it.
It’s quite old by now, but it’s still worth checking out Jamais Cascio’s "the problem of cars."
Some protests of Bush’s farcical climate meetings:
And finally, some news of the weird:
- A husband ate his wife’s pork chops. She responded by stabbing him in the leg with a fork, saying, and I’m not making this up, "Eat my pork, feel my fork!" Ah, marriage.
- What a way to go: You’re in a lake, you splash some water up your nose, an amoeba in the water latches onto your olfactory nerve and proceeds to eat … your … brain.
- A story with the greatest headline ever — "Trouser snake kills Cambodian man" — also has the greatest final line ever: "The newspaper reported Kear’s last words as being ‘don’t worry – it’s nothing a drink can’t fix’ before he succumbed to the cobra’s venom."
- What do effete liberal Northeasterners and redneck reactionary Southerners have in common? They both want to secede from the U.S.
- A couple celebrates their 80th wedding anniversary: "’After all these years,’ he said, ‘I still enjoy being with her.’"
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