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Jonathan Hiskes' Posts

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Ready, Set, Gore!

Former veep to rally climate change activists

Al Gore is stepping up his efforts to train an army of climate change activists. The Climate Project, the grassroots activist group Gore started in 2006, today announced it will gather several thousand volunteers in Nashville this May to prepare a new push to persuade lawmakers to pass significant climate legislation this year. The group will also hold training summits in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, with plans for a training meeting in Beijing in the near future. Project Executive Director Jenny Clad announced the plans in a State of the Organization address today. "Our organization is ready to embark …

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X-actly what we need

Super-battery idea wins X Prize competition for next green invention

From the people that brought you private space travel comes another ambitious techno challenge -- a hyper-green battery that can store electrical energy in vast quantities, with super-quick recharging abilities and without environmentally harmful components. Today the X PRIZE Foundation announced the winner of its $25,000 YouTube contest to come up with the next "Crazy Green Idea." Competitors submitted two-minute videos on what they wanted to see invented. Then 4,000-some YouTube viewers voted on them, choosing the "ultra-capacitor" concept from University of California at Irvine students Kyle Good and Bryan Le. Here's more on their electrical storage idea, from the …

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Forecast: doomed!

Stephan Faris’ book is a grim reality check

The cover of the new climate change travelogue from journalist Stephan Faris makes it pretty clear his news will be grim. On the front cover of Forecast: The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic, from Darfur to Napa Valley ($25, Henry Holt and Company), a lifeless desert floor extends to an ominous red glow on the horizon. It could be a stretch of former Sudanese farmland swallowed by the Sahara's southward creep. Or it could be somewhere in southeastern Australia, where an extended drought has decimated a once-thriving rice-growing region. But the spirit of impending doom …

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Dropping acid

'Monaco Declaration' sounds alarm about ocean acidification

If the idea of acidic oceans sounds problematic, it should. The carbon emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere also wind up in the ocean, where they dissolve and turn the water acidic. This lowering of the pH of seawater -- already underway -- threatens coral reefs, shellfish, and the vast food chains to which they belong. Today 155 scientists issued a report on the rising danger of ocean acidification, saying swift and drastic emissions cuts are needed to curb the problem. The Monaco Declaration [PDF] is based on the work of the Second International Symposium on the Ocean in …

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Wishful thinking?

U.N. climate official clarifies remarks about near-term summit

Monday, U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer sounded an awful lot like he was making a major announcement about a newly planned international summit on climate change. As the Financial Times reported, the U.N.'s top climate official said a meeting was necessary to lay groundwork before the international climate conference in Copenhagen this December. De Boer's remarks indicated that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon felt the same way and was looking to call a summit in February or March. But the secretary-general's office was mum on the matter when contacted by Grist yesterday. Today, de Boer's office confirmed that nothing …

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Surprise party

What if the U.N. held a climate summit and no one knew about it?

As the Financial Times reported (and Grist noted), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon seems to want to convene a meeting of 30 to 40 heads of state in the next few months to address climate change. But it's unclear exactly what's afoot. Ban's press office in New York said it has nothing to announce yet -- no date, location, or list of attendees for the summit. Nor would it say what the U.N. chief and his climate chief, Yvo de Boer, hope to accomplish by calling a summit months in advance of the big international climate conference scheduled to take place …

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Crude oasis

A sandstorm of renewable energy news from the World Future Energy Summit

Abu Dhabi hosted its second World Future Energy Summit earlier this week, with some 16,000 business leaders, green-tech researchers and politicians bravely forgoing northern winters for the Persian Gulf state's subtropic sun. Judging by news reports, attendees forgot the world economy is supposed to be in a panicky, keep-your-money-in-your-mattress mode, and instead engaged in a three-day fiesta of deal-making and bold renewable energy announcements. Here's a run-down: * The host city pledged that 7 percent of its energy would come from renewable sources by 2020, up from zero today. * GE announced plans for its Ecomagination Centre, an R&D showcase …

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Hardcore for shore

Texas journalist paddles Gulf Coast to show shifty ecosystem and toxic threats

I've canoed beneath freeway overpasses in Seattle's Union Bay, but I somehow never undertook anything like this: San Antonio Express-News reporter Colin McDonald is kayaking the length of the Texas Gulf Coast, some 370 miles of alternating natural shoreline and industrialized landscape. He's blogging about the journey at Uncharted Coast, so named because the constantly shifting line between land and water has frustrated map-makers for centuries. Having so far avoided the barges and tanker ships that ply the coastal shipping lanes, McDonald documents the unholy mix of wildlife diversity and intensive industrial use. He encounters a lot of remaining damage …

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Grist looks back at the WTF moments of the George W. Bush years

The Bush administration was hostile to government regulation and protective of business interests. That was their stated ideology on the campaign trail, and when elected, the president saw to it that his government acted on it. Fine. We get it. But the Bush environmental record is not entirely explicable through ideology. Some of the stuff Rove & Co. did was simply perverse, with little policy or philosophical rationale beyond, "hey, let's f*ck with the dirty hippies!" They did worse things, sure, but these are the ones that seemed to call for psychological diagnosis rather than political explanation. We call these …

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The Bush Team as characters from everybody's favorite cartoon show

 For Americans passionate about environmental issues, the last eight years often felt like a horror movie -- all screams and monsters. So we could use a little laughter to change the mood. Now that we've survived the reign of 43, Grist presents the Bush administration's cast of enviro villains as characters of Fox's hit cartoon comedy, The Simpsons: Snake Mark Rey The top Forest Service official made plundering public lands look as easy as ripping off a Kwik-E-Mart. Yoink! Oh, and he was also threatened with jail time for repeatedly dousing forest fires with a flame retardant that killed fish. …

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