Today is the 198th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 148th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. So take some time out today to celebrate Darwin Day and the body of scientific work from him and others that makes up what we know about evolution. If your knowledge of Darwin and his work is skimpy, consider picking up David Quammen's The Reluctant Mr. Darwin for a highly enjoyable and insightful introduction. Or if you are in the Boston area, consider visiting the excellent Darwin exhibit that will open February 18th at the Museum of Science.
In her continuing effort to focus attention on global warming, Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the unusual step of appearing as a witness at the House Committee on Science and Technology's hearing on The State of Climate Change. You can read her testimony here.
Q: When is an alternative fuel not a renewable fuel? A: When it is coal-to-liquids. Lost in the call for 35 billion gallons of non-gasoline fuel was the fact that the president has expanded the definition of what fuels qualify for his mandate. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a renewable fuels standard. Tonight the president called for a vastly expanded alternative fuels standard -- one that would include "sources such as corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, butanol, hydrogen, and alternative fuels," a.k.a. coal-to-liquids. Trading gasoline for liquid fuels from coal does not bode well for the future state of our union.
Although not getting much mainstream press between his new ethics bill and being a beach babe, Sen. Obama is co-chairing a new Senate caucus to promote coal to liquids and, one would assume, his recently reintroduced legislation, according to E&E Daily (sub. req.). When is West Virginia's presidential primary?
As war simmers in the Middle East and oil prices rise along with global temperatures, Midwestern farmers and politicians aren’t the only ones banging the drums for biofuels. Now big-time investors, security hawks, environmentalists, and even George W. Bush have joined their ranks. But is environmentally responsible bioenergy a real possibility, or are we bio-fooling ourselves? How green is your biofuel? Photo: gov.mb.ca The question is key, because current U.S. public policy is pushing biofuel production without giving much evident thought to sustainability. If present trends continue, the public could find itself funding environmentally ruinous projects in the name of …
Two weeks ago, Dave and I gleefully reported that Sen. John Warner, current-but-soon-to-be-former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was going to use his seniority to oust Sen. James Inhofe from the top Republican seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. Apparently Warner is reconsidering and may instead seek the ranking member position on the Intelligence Committee. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal had this quote from Warner on the subject: I've spent most of my life worried about defense. ... I don't know if I'll live long enough to figure out global warming. Warner's office refused to further comment on the story, so tune in next week for the next episode of "As the Warner Turns."
Two weeks ago, I was quoted in Muckraker casting doubt on how important environmental issues were in the past election. Two new polls -- from Zogby on global warming and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on energy (PDF of full memo) -- force me to reconsider that position. Seems Republican's failure on energy and gasoline prices was the top concern, by a 20 point margin, among Democratic voters who considered voting Republican. Energy was also a top concern of other key groups. Read them and smile!
Just when you thought all the pleasant surprises of the election must be spent, one more appears in your inbox on a Friday afternoon. Senator John Warner is going to reassert his seniority on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to be the Republicans' ranking member, forcing every polluter's favorite Senator James Inhofe into the number two position. Warner doesn't have the greenest record in the Republican caucus, but this year he has said some interesting things about climate change. Interesting in a good way, not interesting in an Inhofe way.
As if you need more reason to watch the meteorological smorgasbord that is the Weather Channel, every Sunday they are now showing the Climate Code, an hour long program focusing on climate change causes, effects, and solutions. I haven't seen the show yet, but if the website is any indication, it should be great.