Gar Lipow

Gar Lipow, a long-time environmental activist and journalist with a strong technical background, has spent years immersed in the subject of efficiency and renewable energy. His new book Solving the Climate Crisis will be published by Praeger Press in Spring 2012. Check out his online reference book compiling information on technology available today.

CDM study defending CDM against charges of being a miserable failure is a miserable failure

My last post was a reminder that the Clean Development Mechanism(CDM) remains a miserable failure. The evidence that it does not actually contribute to solving the climate crisis included data that showed that the overwhelming majority of offsets certificates issued and approved by the program are generated by scandal ridden projects, and are widely acknowledged as invalid. The same post also linked to a study from the World Bank, an offset pioneer, that acknowledges that most existing project based offsets are “non-additional” i.e. based on partially or totally false stories. That same post also provided quotes from leading authorities in …

CDM still a miserable failure

Since there seems to be resurgence of attempts to defend the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offset system, it seems time for a reminder of how badly the idea has failed. The fundamental idea behind CDM is that greenhouse gas polluters in rich nations could continue to release greenhouse gases, but pay polluters in poor nations to reduce emissions. The results, it was claimed, would be the same greenhouse gas reduction as the rich polluters could have achieved, but at a lower cost.  CDM works by having a polluter in a poor nation accept CDM money, then compares their actual situation …

California study is NOT about technological limits. Why glass is 100% full

A recent state sponsored study shows that California could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 60% compared to 1990 by 2050 with today’s technology(pdf).  That has sparked a debate.  The glass-half-full crowd, among whom I usually count myself would argue that if we have the technology today to achieve a 60% reduction, if we start implementing now, normal technological progress will take care of the rest. The glass half-empty crowd say that 60% means it is hopeless to do anything now, that we should wait for breakthroughs before doing anything. I find myself in the glass is 100% full crowd. Well, …

Energy from U.S. forests: mostly unsustainable according to peer reviewed study in Nature

A  peer reviewed paper in the November 2011 issue of Nature/Climate, shows that, at least in the U.S., biofuel production from forestry results in higher carbon emissions than not producing biofuel in most cases. Even just increasing fire management, removing biomass that acts as tinder, will result in a net reduction in forest sequestration in most cases(behind paywall). According to the study Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production, in most cases the decreased fire rate does not make up for biomass removal. There are exceptions, forests that produce exceptionally high emissions when subject to fire, but these results …

Climate & Energy

Green lifestyle choices won’t solve the climate problem

Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, aka the Greenie Pig, is feeling guilty about her plane trip to a friend’s wedding and decided to try to make up for it by rolling her own carbon offsets — that is, skimping on car travel and other energy use to make up for all that jet fuel she helped burn. While I appreciate her avoiding offset schemes, I think rolling her own misses the point, and it makes her life harder than it needs to be. Elisabeth doesn’t have much to feel guilty about, really. I guess instead of taking a plane, she should have taken …

Biomass an important contribution, but not a magic bullet

There is a growing enthusiasm for biomass, as pundits like Arne Jungjohann look at small towns in Europe that are able to get 100% of their energy by burning wood and other biomass. But when these cases are presented out of context, I’m afraid some may draw unwarrantedly optimistic conclusions. Biomass power is not, in itself, a bad idea. It was a long time between the invention of fire and the use of anything but biomass to supplement muscle power for humans. Biomass has been part of the power mix for humans since well before our particular human species came into …

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