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Glenn Hurowitz's Posts

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How to find the greenest airline

Just three roundtrip cross-country or trans-Atlantic flights cause almost as much climate pollution as the average American household produces in an entire year. With that in mind, lots of fliers are concerned about the heavy carbon impact of their travel, and want to choose airlines that are at least operating as efficiently as possible. Eco-conscious travelers may want to take a look at a new a new report by The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), which ranks the efficiency of domestic operations by America's major largest carriers. The ranking shows that Alaska Airlines is the industry's green North Star, using fuel …

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Europe says its own biofuels policies increase food costs 50%, drive deforestation

Two new studies that came out in Europe during the last couple of days show that biofuel mandates are causing consumers far more pocketbook pain – and contributing more to deforestation and climate pollution – than even previous studies suggested. The European Union’s own Joint Research Center found that Europe’s biofuels mandates are dramatically driving up food prices. Here’s the summary from Euractiv: If biofuels received no EU policy support, the price of food stuffs such as vegetable oil would be 50% lower in Europe by 2020 than at present – and 15% lower elsewhere in the world – according …

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How Europe can help Obama achieve US climate targets

As the global leader of climate action, European governments want to know how President Obama’s major climate speech affects Europe – and particularly whether the actions he outlined can allow the United States to reach its commitment to reduce emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels (or even exceed that level). The big picture: Obama’s speech amounted to the first time that President Obama had given voice to the environmental movement’s core narrative at length. Suddenly, he wasn’t just talking about energy security and the economy and “all of the above” – he was talking about protecting the future of …

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The death of ‘sustainability’

Can destroying a tropical rainforest be “sustainable”? Well, according to a decision taken yesterday by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the major industry-NGO body, this greatest of environmental crimes is now officially “green.” Palm oil plantations have driven the destruction of more than 30,000 square miles of tropical forest in Indonesia and Malaysia alone, pushing species like orangutans and Sumatran rhinoceroses and elephants to the edge of extinction. It’s the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Southeast Asia, and has propelled Indonesia to be the world’s third largest climate polluter behind only China and the United States. …

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Obama faces first post-election climate test

President Obama will start to determine his second-term approach to climate change today as the House of Representatives sends final legislation to his desk that empowers him to bar U.S. airlines from complying with Europe’s climate law. If he signs the bill, Obama will not only be failing to take sufficient action to address climate change, but actively going out of his way to stop another country from doing so - a pretty extreme act at the worst possible time. The controversy: the European Union has finally ended  airlines’ exemption from European pollution rules, and has applied its law equally …

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United Airlines Screws Polar Bears While Flying Over Them

Photo by Martin Lopatka

You may not be able to tell from the sublime stillness of his hair, but United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek is foaming at his strong-jawed mouth. The European Union at long last has ended United and other airlines’ exemption from the continent’s climate law, including both domestic European flights as well as flights that take off and land in Europe.

That means that United and other U.S. airlines accustomed to polluting with impunity now will have to either improve their efficiency or purchase pollution permits.  All in all, that’s expected to add a whopping three dollars to the cost of a transatlantic flight, where coach tickets average $1000 round trip (US airlines are already imposing a surcharge to cover these additional expenses, before they’re even required to pay them!). Each way, the extra expense is equivalent to the price of the 2.6 ounce bag of potato chips that United charges its coach-class customers.

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As Romney mocks climate, Obama mocks Arctic

President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise...is to help you and your family. – Willard Mitt Romney, August 30, 2012

The moment Mitt Romney mocked the climate crisis will be cursed, rued, and lamented by future generations. It might even be cursed, rued, and lamented by Mitt Romney, if he looks back on that line as the beginning of the end of his flirtation with young voters and their planet. After all, America’s best and brightest youth are pouring themselves into innovation to create clean energy, to solve the climate crisis, and win the future…and Mitt Romney tonight sent the message that his America has no place for them.

But while Romney mocked the Earth with his words, President Obama is mocking the planet with his actions.

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The five big forest trends of 2012

In the past year, examples abounded of forests being protected or restored on a grand scale. But those successes put the colossal failures and the corrupting forces behind them in stark relief: For too many forests, some combination of rapacious corporate greed, rising global population and consumption (particularly in Asia), local corruption, ignorant or careless political leadership and a lack of a strong grassroots environmental movement overwhelmed forest defenders -- leading to destruction of some of the most biodiverse, carbon-dense forests in the world. The bright contrast showed that deforestation is no ways inevitable -- in many cases, the same …

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What is the price of an environmentalist’s vote?

Photo: Tar Sands ActionThe Obama administration has decided to delay a decision on the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline until after the 2012 election. This is only a temporary, inadequate victory, but an extraordinary achievement for the thousands of grassroots activists who put ourselves on the line. It's also clear evidence for the environmental movement that directly targeting President Obama works, and probably works better than any other strategy. (Kudos especially to 350.org, Bill McKibben, Friends of the Earth, and Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb.) As amazing as this progress is, however, let’s not delude ourselves: President Obama is just kicking the …

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Breaking: Obama pushes huge free trade deals to Wednesday vote

If you thought President Obama’s expressions of sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement meant he was suddenly going to stand up for "the 99 percent" and their planet, think again. Obama has just submitted to Congress the Chamber of Commerce-backed Colombia, Panama, and Korea Free Trade Agreements, which are opposed by pretty much every constituency involved in the OWS movement, from environmentalists to labor unions and human rights activits. It's a rare trifecta of hippie punching. And now, thanks to maneuvering by Obama and his business-friendly Chief of Staff William Daley and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, they’re on …

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