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Glenn Hurowitz's Posts

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Coal drives 2009 global carbon emissions higher than expected

A new analysis of 2009 global greenhouse gas emissions published in the journal Nature Geoscience has found that increased coal use in the developing world, particularly China and India, boosted global greenhouse gas emissions to the second highest level on record. The result is particularly surprising because pollution in developed countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan actually declined significantly as their economies shrank in the wake of the global financial crisis. The one silver lining in the report is that emissions from deforestation have actually declined by about one quarter since 2000 in response to better law enforcement …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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White House approves solar for roof and California desert

Obama’s solar panels: pre-election gesture or bright new beginning?Photo: The White HouseFacing withering criticism and the threat of a primary challenge over its lackluster environmental record, the Obama administration today announced that it will reinstall solar panels back on the White House roof by the spring of 2011 -- and approved major solar projects on public lands in California. The announcement follows a pilgrimage by environmental activist Bill McKibben and students from Unity College in Maine to the White House, where their pleas to reinstall the solar panels were originally perfunctorily dismissed. "By installing solar panels on arguably the most …

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Is environmentalism progressive?

In a response to my call here at Grist for environmentalists to explore, after the midterms, a primary challenger to President Obama, the usually sage David Roberts wonders: Should environmentalists run a purely vindictive campaign the only "success" of which could be to unseat a president who has achieved more for progressives in the past two years than any president since Nixon? Tell that to progressives. My original post was entitled "Environmentalists need a new president," but could easily have been "Workers need a new president," "Gays need a new president," and on and on. Obama's stimulus didn’t create enough …

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Obama: We may need to solve climate change in 'chunks'

Photo: The White HouseIn a newly released interview, President Obama told Rolling Stone magazine that he wants to make energy and climate "one of my top priorities next year," but that "we may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive legislation." Approached with resolve and creativity, this chunk approach has the potential to produce near and mid-term gains equal to or even surpassing those achieved by comprehensive climate legislation. Indeed, as World Resources Institute noted in a recent study, a combination of EPA regulation and state action can reduce emissions somewhere between …

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Environmentalists need a new president

We need a new face in the Oval Office.Photo: The White HouseI confess that when I initially heard of it, I thought Bill McKibben's drive to return solar panels to the White House was essentially a waste of time: of all the things to ask the president, it seemed like the smallest, most insignificant, and easiest. It certainly wouldn’t solve the climate crisis. And it would allow President Obama to cloak himself in a symbolic green action that let him cover a rapidly worsening environmental record. I realize now that its very simplicity made the solar panels a masterstroke that …

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The Climate Premium: Russian Fires Cause Wheat Prices to Skyrocket

The world's breakfast eaters are about to get a hot, steaming serving of climate change with their bagels and croissants. In response to the climate change-fueled fires sweeping the Russian bread basket, Russia on Thursday banned grain exports, driving global prices to $7.83 a bushel, almost double their June low. This is the real climate change tax -- higher food prices, higher air conditioning bills, skyrocketing firefighting expenses, and it's way more costly than the relatively modest investments it will take to reduce the climate pollution exacerbating these global natural disasters. This isn't just a one-off effect. A team led …

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Are environmentalists responsible for climate failure?

Environmentalists and their allies have expressed “disappointment” at the failure of the Senate to cap carbon pollution this year. A few bold voices have even suggested, gingerly, that President Obama might bear just a teensy bit of responsibility for this failure by not aggressively lobbying the Senate to take action or launching a consistent public campaign for action. Meanwhile, the White House isn't shying from putting the blame squarely on environmentalists. "They didn't deliver a single Republican," a White House official told Politico, speaking about environmental groups. "They spent like $100 million and they weren't able to get a single …

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Amanda Little Needs to Rinse the Oil Out of Her Brain

I’ve always loved Amanda Little’s writing – and her news-breaking, hard-hitting interviews. But her latest incarnation as a “pro-drilling environmentalist,” while clearly well-meaning, is so divorced from the economic and political reality of oil that it deserves an open plea to escape what is clearly too much time spent in the barrel of Big Oil’s echo chamber. After all, to hear Amanda tell it, you’d think the folks at the Power Shift youth climate conference should be screaming “Drill Here, Drill Now” as their new green rallying cry – and that’s a sad future indeed for the environmental movement.   …

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Climate & Energy Bill Will Do More For Health Than Health Care Legislation

This post was co-authored by Dr. Rahul Rajkumar, a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. As oil and gas continue to spew out of a broken pipe at the BP spill site in the Gulf of Mexico, those of us who rode on the health care reform bandwagon have to wonder if we should have tackled energy and climate change first.  Lack of access to health care is a moral imperative - but inadequate health care is responsible for only a small fraction of the unnecessary loss of life that occurs every year in this country.  If the …

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EPA Analysis: Rainforests Key to Climate Legislation Affordability, Integrity

This post was co-authored by Andrew Stevenson of Resources for the Future and Climate Advisers. The EPA analysis of the American Power Act shines a light on a key fact about climate policy: strong rainforest protections, especially in the short run, are essential to keeping costs low and emissions goals strong. The analysis finds that excluding rainforest offsets from APA would increase emissions allowance prices 23 percent. Excluding international offsets entirely would increase the cost to households a whopping 31 to 114 percent. That’s no surprise: stopping rainforests from going up in smoke is one of the most affordable ways …

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