David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can subscribe to his RSS feed or follow him on Twitter or email him at droberts at grist dot org, if you're into that sort of thing.

Lists and very alternative energy

Among the nifty things to read about in L.A. Weekly's List Issue is this: "8 New Very Alternative Energy Ideas" I particularly like the bit with the hamsters.

Oil independence and the electorate

Who’s fired up about energy?

New York governor George Pataki (R) is delusional if he thinks he's going to win the Republican nomination for president. McCain might have a teeny tiny eensy beensy sliver of a chance. Giuliani, even eensier. But Pataki, no. The very things he's done to appeal to moderates in his home state will damn him irredeemably in the eyes of today's Republican base. That said, he does seem set to run, and as peakguy on Oil Drum NYC says, his final State of the State speech may well be setting up one of the central planks of his strategy: independence from "foreign oil." Not just here in New York, but across the nation, our reliance on foreign oil is hampering the financial freedom of our working families and their employers; it is hurting our economy, damaging our environment and enriching regimes that support, harbor and encourage the terrorists who threaten our national security. You'll be hearing this kind of stuff from members of both parties. It will be pitched to sound tough on national security and bullish on the economy. Environmental messages will be muted at best. I must say I'm skeptical about the electoral efficacy of energy independence, at least at present. While it is carefully calibrated to appeal across a number of demographics, I don't think anybody but environmentalists really feel fired up about it. Like most environmental issues, its appeal is broad but shallow. We've had high gas prices this year, and that put oil on everybody's radar. And of course there's, you know, the Iraq war, which according to a new study may run this country up to $2 trillion. But most folks still don't connect that to oil. Most people have not have their lives directly affected by our dependence on oil -- at least in ways they perceive as such. Most people are still living their comfortable, driving, suburban, middle-class lives just fine. It will take a huge, sustained price spike, I think, before "energy independence" gets any real traction as a campaign slogan.

It’s over

Well, damn. Kevin Drum stole my thunder. I wanted to draw special attention to a post by John Quiggin, which announces: More significantly, perhaps, 2005 saw the final nail hammered into the arguments climate change contrarians have been pushing for years. The few remaining legitimate sceptics, along with some of the smarter ideological contrarians, have looked at the evidence and conceded the reality of human-caused global warming. He also makes this crucial point:

Is not!

Jonathan Adler defends Samuel Alito against the attacks of environmental groups.

Who put the bunk in debunk-a-bunk-bunk?

The latest global warming debunkery, debunked, as always by the tireless Tim Lambert.

‘What are we supposed to do, walk?’

Thanks to Kit Stolz for pointing me to an Onion item I missed: "Public Outraged As Price Of Fast-Depleting, Non-Renewable Resource Skyrockets"

Eco-friendly building materials: The new black

The New York Times discovers that the market for green building supplies (flooring, paint, etc.) is booming. As usual with puffy trend pieces like this, there is frustratingly little actual information, just a series of mini-profiles. One thing the piece does make clear is that this market is still the province of wealthy suburbanites. But, you know, the promise of economies of scale, blah blah ...

2006 predictions

Stuart Staniford over at Oil Drum offers some predictions for 2006 that are worth reading. I think he really lost his nerve here, though: Civilization Collapse, Rapture, Alien invasion, etc. I estimate the probability of any of these events in 2006 as being negligibly small. Aw, c'mon! More willing to predict The End, as always, is the indefatigable Jim Kunstler, who thinks 2006 ...

Al Gore tries to talk Billy into playing nicely with the other children

And other thoughts from a ‘clueless’ enviro.

As political junkies know, Grover Norquist -- a major player in the Republican establishment -- holds weekly breakfast meetings, attended by everybody-who's-anybody on the right. This is where much of the famed "message coordination" happens. It would take a brave Democrat to venture into that lion's den. I guess Al Gore is brave (stupid? foolhardy? running for president?). He attended last week's meeting to give a version of his basic PowerPoint presentation on global warming. According to Steve Hayward's account (via Ezra), Gore was charming and the presentation was impressive, but the Q&A session failed to dazzle. What bugs me about Hayward's post is this: