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Andy Brett's Posts

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Gristniks hit the pages of the Globe

It looks like modesty has prevailed in the Grist offices again, as there hasn't been a peep about the op-ed in today's Boston Globe, entitled "A fit of (oil) peak," co-authored by Dave Roberts and Chip Giller. It's also the first hit on Google News for "peak oil."

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New National Park Service guidelines proposed

Dueling stories in the NY Times and LA Times today on a document that would loosen restrictions on what qualifies as recreation and is allowed in national parks. The changes, which would allow snowmobiles, cell phone towers, and low-flying tour planes, are the "brainchild" of Paul Hoffman, a "high-ranking appointee at the Interior Department" according to the Times. The change that's getting the most attention is the insertion of "irreversibly" into the language describing what makes a use illegal, to the effect that a use that harms the park's resources but does not do so "irreversibly" would be just fine. …

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Oiloholics

The Economist has on its cover this week a not-so-flattering caricature of Uncle Sam and a dragon, both sipping down oil like there's no tomorrow. The article is "The Oiloholics." Why do I mention this now? Usually you have to subscribe to the magazine to read this article. But today you can promise to watch an ad and do something else for 30 seconds watch an ad and get access for free.

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What are ‘price caps’

Hawaii has responded to soaring gas prices by capping wholesale prices at $2.74/gallon including taxes, starting September 1st. This would put the retail cap at about $2.86, slightly higher than the state-wide average but significantly lower than prices in Maui, which are over $3/gallon.

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Africa goes cellular

One in eleven Africans is now ... a mobile phone subscriber. Africa has an average of just one land line for every 33 people, but cellphones are enabling millions of people to skip a technological generation and bound straight from letter-writing to instant messaging. Sound familiar?

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Vashon Island goes energy independent

From the Seattle PI: Vashon Island, located just south of Seattle, has plans to do what every environmentalist and geo-green wants to see America do: become more energy independent. But Vashon Island is shooting for 100%. The proposal, which is receiving nearly unanimous support from the island's famously liberal residents, is centered on a report [PDF] from the Institute for Environmental Research and Education. It suggests a variety of renewables to provide power to the 10,000 island residents. On some days, the island might even be able to send power to the mainland via the already established underwater power lines. …

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Tierney puts up $5,000

"I know next to nothing about oil production [in Saudi Arabia] or anywhere else." But John Tierney is still willing to put up $5,000 to say that the price of oil will stay low. He's found a taker in Matt Simmons, the peak oil Cassandra featured in Sunday's New York Times Magazine cover story. The terms are: Both parties put $5,000 into a joint account. If the average price for a barrel of oil for 2010 is above $200 in current dollars, Simmons wins. If it's under, Tierney wins. Winner takes the contents of the account, which will include interest …

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The pendulum swings back on ecosystem services

In a developing field like ecosystem services, there's bound to be a lot of competing paradigms out there, some of which may even argue that the entire field isn't all it's made out to be. A four-year long study [PDF] done by the UK-based Forestry Research Program might be seen as one such setback for proponents of ecosystem services. The study's "main finding" was that the method of planting trees in the upstream areas of watersheds does not have the desired effect of increasing the water yields downstream. I might be misunderstanding this, but I could have guessed that more …

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The NY Times does peak oil

Peak oil made what might be described as its MSM debut today, and in dramatic fashion, as the cover story in the New York Times Magazine. Weighing in at just about 9,000 words, the article by Peter Maass qualifies as a quick read just about as much as it qualifies as uplifting. After describing some of the effects of peak oil on life as we know it, Maass then asks: "But will such a situation really come to pass?" (Collective sigh.) Like it or not, Maass says, Saudi Arabia is the key to the if and when of peak oil. …

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Mooney and Pielke

The internet has been described as a conversation. I have never seen a better example. Featuring Chris Mooney and Robert Pielke Jr., with cameo appearances from Jamais Cascio and Jonathan H. Adler. Gentlemen, start your laptops. The prompt is: "Science = Liberalism?" ... go!

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