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Dan Watson's Posts

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The U.S. budget slashes information-gathering on energy

In times of rising gas prices and uncertainty about the nation's overall energy future, it would seem that obtaining information on energy would be a top priority for our government. But not so. The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy, is facing a 14 percent cut in the 2011 spending bill. That'll hamper its ability to crunch numbers on gas prices, oil and gas production, and industry profits. Sure, gas prices are shaping up to be a major football for the 2012 election, but talk is cheap, and data is expensive! As you might imagine, …

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Pro sports are going greener, and that means the rest of us are too

The Seattle Sounders don't just have crazy fans. Their facilities have a 57.6 percent landfill diversion rate.Photo: Mike HPro sports may not seem like a natural ally for environmentalists. Players fly from Boston to Los Angeles and back for a single game. Leagues and teams convince cities to build expensive and often unneeded new facilities with taxpayer money. Fans clog up roads as they drive to games and clog up trash cans with hot-dog wrappers and beer cups once they arrive. But six teams representing six major North American sports leagues have kicked off a new effort to make themselves …

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Foreign oil follies: Stop Obama if you think you’ve heard this one before

President Obama is talking big about reducing our consumption of foreign oil. We predict he'll be just as successful as his predecessors ... After the BP oil spill, The Daily Show did a roundup of past presidential calls for us to use less oil. As Jon Stewart concluded, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me eight times, am I a f*cking idiot?"   Here's a rundown: George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union address: "Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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toll road 4 sale

Maybe selling off government-owned fossil-fuel infrastructure isn’t such a bad idea

Might a little bit of the free market be just what we need to get Americans paying something closer to the true cost of driving?Photo: Marius WatzEveryone knows about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's unhinged attack on his state's unions, but did you know that he's also pushing for the right to "sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant [PDF] or ... contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount"? Walker's not alone in his inclination to sell off public infrastructure; for the past several years, budget-strapped …

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maine and suffering

Paul LePage, new Maine guv, takes aim at the environment

Paul LePageIt's not just Michele Bachmann. Maine's new Tea Party-backed governor, erstwhile furniture salesman Paul LePage, is also embarrassing his fellow Republicans. First, he appointed his 22-year-old daughter to be assistant to his chief of staff. This would be an ill-advised move in any administration, especially when your state has high unemployment, but it's particularly unwise if you've never held public office before and could clearly benefit from a staff that knows what it's doing. Next, his clashing with the NAACP over Martin Luther King Jr. Day ("tell them to kiss my butt") involved his bizarre claim that he should …

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dumbest green story of the millennium?

Genghis Khan — not that green after all

For one thing, this statue has large carbon footprints.Photo: ChinneebInfamous Mongol warlord Genghis Khan conquered much of Central Asia and China and killed tens of millions of people along the way. But in a clear case of researchers taking the lemons of history and trying to make some delicious, 800-year-old lemonade, a recent study highlights the supposed green benefits of Genghis' mass slaughter: [Genghis' impact on climate] can be told in one word: reforestation. When the Mongol hordes invaded Asia, the Middle East, and Europe they left behind a massive body count, depopulating many regions. With less people, large swathes …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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The future-of-the-world series

World Series inspires opponents of California's Prop 23

An anti-Prop 23 ad takes a baseball theme.Texas and the San Francisco Bay Area aren't just going head to head in the World Series this week -- they're also battling it out over California's contentious Prop 23. The ballot measure, which would suspend California's landmark climate law, has been heavily funded by Texas oil companies. As the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants geared up for the first game of the series last week, Rebecca Tarbotton of the Rainforest Action Network wrote: Get ready, California -- today ain't just about the Giants vs. the Rangers. Texas is also challenging …

Read more: Politics

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It'll melt your popsicle

How air-conditioning is baking our world

When you think of the causes of global warming, you may picture an SUV before you picture a central AC unit. But almost 20 percent of electricity consumption in U.S. homes goes to AC -- that's as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes. So says Stan Cox in his new book, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer).  Cox, a scientist and agricultural researcher who lives in Salina, Kansas, doesn't paint AC as the bogeyman. Rather, he makes the point that our world …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Not the sharpest tools in the shed

Republican governor candidates deny climate change

We at Grist have been writing about the throngs of GOP candidates this year who deny climate science and oppose efforts to address global warming, including many House hopefuls and nearly all Republicans running for Senate. Now we've got the goods on gubernatorial candidates, many of whom are just as skeptical. Some choice quotes:  Minnesota governor candidate Tom Emmer (R) "Radical activists are trying to convince us that everyday nutrients are causing cancer, that cows are causing ‘global warming,' and that hogs are getting people sick. Logical people know otherwise," he says on his campaign website. His site also bashes …