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Glenn Hurowitz's Posts

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Underground green economy employing millions

UPDATE: Thousands more people are now being employed in the "restoration economy" to clean up the oil spill. Jobs are just one more reason why we need a national effort to restore the Gulf ecosystem. There's a new economy springing up around the country -- but it's operating almost entirely in secret. It's called "the restoration economy" and it's remaking America's landscape while putting millions of people to work. This economy is devoted to restoring what's been lost: degraded forests, watersheds, oceans, cities, communities, buildings, transit -- and it's the product of a major turning point in our history that's …

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Saudi oil cheaper than American oil

To offshore drilling advocates, the oil-soaked birds washing up on the Gulf shore are a regrettable sacrifice in our pursuit of a higher calling: energy independence. Oil is a nasty business, they admit, but to them, offshore drilling is better than continuing to buy our oil from hostile countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. They imply that we have a choice between dirty bombs and dirty oil. Nothing could be further from the truth: offshore drilling has never and will never make us less reliant on Saudis, Iranians, or Venezuelans. Whether we like it or not, oil from those …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Raiding rainforest funds in climate legislation will turn cost projections into fantasy

An endangered unicorn protected by one of the imaginary offsets created if Kerry-Graham-Lieberman raids funds for tropical rainforests.In the ongoing negotiations over the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill, different polluters are clamoring for cash to compensate them for not fouling the atmosphere quite so much. One of their targets: the legislation's set-aside funds for reducing tropical deforestation, which is responsible for at least 15 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions (more than all the cars, trucks, ships, and planes in the world). Outside of all the myriad benefits of protecting tropical rainforests for the planet, raiding this "Climate Forest Fund" seriously threatens the …

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Illegal logging funding Taliban attacks on U.S. troops

In case you didn't have enough reasons to dislike the Taliban, The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov looks at how they're using revenue from illegal logging to finance attacks on U.S. troops (though, via some monumentally twisted logic, the article actually blames the logging ban, rather than the Taliban forces doing the logging and profiting from it): Giant piles of prime timber line the roadsides along the Kunar River valley. The cut wood, valued at tens of millions of dollars, has been slowly rotting away since 2006, when President Hamid Karzai banned logging and lumber sales in Afghanistan. The decree …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Forests and agriculture essential to success of climate legislation

Co-authored by Stephen Lovett, president of Phoenix Strategic Solutions and former executive vice president of the American Forest and Paper Association. Within the next few days, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman are going to unveil energy and climate legislation. If this legislation is to have any chance at either environmental, economic, or political success, they must avoid the "energy-only" approach that would entirely exclude forests and farms from participation in a solution -- but that has recently gained some traction. Such an approach, no matter whether through legislation or regulation, is a huge mistake that would needlessly …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The jobs are in the trees

With Congress and the White House considering spending scarce dollars to jump-start employment, they'll need to get the biggest jobs bang for the buck to give Americans confidence that they're spending our money wisely. Probably the biggest jobs generator of all, and one of the least recognized, is investing in forest and land restoration and sustainable management, with conservation, watershed projects, and park investment coming close behind. Heidi Garrett-Peltier and Robert Pollin at The Political Economy and Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts report the following numbers for jobs created per dollar of investment. To summarize, reforestation and restoration …

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The earth’s decade

Generations from now, long after the last Twitter follower has unfriended the last Facebook user, this decade will be remembered and felt for its impact on Nature: the species that were saved and those that were lost; the heating of the planet; the forests cut down and those that remain to provide oxygen to our children's children, and the first halting steps toward a clean energy future. By those standards, this decade has been one of great beginnings, tragic ends, and the uplifting possibility of a new relationship between man and Nature. To be sure, these were years of fire …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Report: Forest conservation can be as reliable as other ways of reducing pollution

Photo: Mongabay A combination of dramatic technological advances, experience, and application of a little common sense has markedly increased scientists' confidence in their ability to monitor forest conservation projects for their climate impact. As The Eliasch Review [PDF], the U.K. Government's authoritative recent report on forest-climate science and policy, put it, "Using appropriate techniques, forest emissions can be estimated with similar confidence to emissions estimates in other sectors."  That's very good news, as approximately 20 percent of total global warming pollution comes from deforestation, more than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined. As the United States and …

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Not your daddy’s offsets

A new report, "Forging the Climate Consensus: Domestic and International Offsets" makes clear exactly how important a role high-quality offsets play in maintaining the integrity of climate legislation -- and how they could allow an international climate agreement to achieve far stronger emissions reductions targets than would otherwise be possible. The report was issued by the National Commission on Energy Policy, which represents major corporations, NGO's, and labor unions (and whose executive director is Jason Grumet, Obama's top energy advisor during the campaign, so it should be taken at least somewhat seriously as the type of thinking being seriously considered …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The Non-Concession concession?

Henry Waxman and Ed Markey seem to have mastered the art of the non-concession concession: striking deals with potential opponents in ways that meet their needs while minimizing (though not entirely eliminating) the negative impacts. Similar to their distribution of allowances, which seemed at first glance to be a massive giveaway but turned out to be far more equitable, the latest compromise between Waxman and House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson seems to fall into this category. The agreement installs a five year moratorium on calculations for how ethanol and other biofuels affect international land use. Climate pollution is released into …