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Joseph Romm's Posts

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Green and gold and Goldman Sachs

The financial giant is ready to take on climate change

The investment firm Goldman Sachs has released an environmental policy framework (PDF) and invested billions of dollars in clean energy and research into environmentally-friendly markets, a stark contrast with the inaction of our own government. In their environmental policy framework, Goldman Sachs recognizes climate change and its threat to financial markets and general livelihood. Consequently, they advocate limiting emissions, participate in Europe’s carbon market, and have agreed to voluntarily report and cut their own emissions by 7 percent by 2012. You can find their progress in their 2006 Year-End Report (PDF), which includes the partnerships they have forged, research papers …

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Coal state newspapers attack liquid-coal plans

Wisdom from the heart of coal country

It's not news when I criticize Congress's proposals to subsidize coal-to-liquids (CTL). After all, my focus is avoiding serious global warming, which CTL would only make more likely. But when two newspapers from traditional coal regions say "no" to CTL, that is a man-bites-dog story. The Kentucky Herald-Leader has a great headline: Liquid coal a new version of snake oil: Don't subsidize energy plans that would worsen global warming. The Roanoke Times of the coal-region of Southwestern Virginia has an equally strong headline: Billion-dollar boondoggle: Coal-to-liquid technology is expensive, harmful to the environment and inefficient. The federal government should take …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Jim Connaughton, Jedi master of doubletalk

Witness the verbal mangling at today’s press conference

The White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair showed off his legendary verbal skills at a G8 press briefing yesterday (PDF). Here are the two best bits. Yoda Connaughton was enumerating the President's "domestic agenda on climate" when he said: The President has set out his support at the state level for renewable power mandates, and we now have the United States of America, 80% [sic] of our power under state renewable power requirements. Packed in a lot of doubletalk in one sentence, he has. The president opposes a federal renewable power mandate (even though he signed one into law …

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Really short book review: Monbiot's <em>Heat</em>

Skip it

You can skip George Monbiot's book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Slightly longer book review: Because there are far too many climate books to read, I confess I apply a litmus test. I look up "hydrogen" in the index. If the writer thinks it's a climate solution, the book can be skipped. I thought I would like this book, since I like many of the columns by the British author, including an early excerpt on the connection of the global warming deniers to big tobacco. But on page 162, he writes, "hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to …

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NASA chief Griffin stands by his Luddite remarks -- as space agency guts climate science work

Unfortunate

NASA administrator Michael Griffin offered a lame apology for his denier remarks on climate change. The Associated Press reports that Griffin "regrets airing his personal views about global warming during a recent radio interview." That is, he apologized for speaking his mind. Sad. In a related story, the media revealed a recent report on how NASA and the Bush administration are gutting earth observation work crucial to tracking climate change: The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Flaws in the Boucher bill

It would pre-empt state fuel efficiency laws

An energy bill is emerging from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but it has some "unacceptable" provisions, according to leading energy and environmental experts. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, has a draft bill online, along with summaries of key provisions. The bill has a variety of important provisions aimed at promoting energy efficiency in electricity and vehicles -- and some useful provisions to promote low carbon fuels. But it has at least two serious flaws. First, it helps subsidize coal to liquids, which is an irredeemably bad idea, as I have argued …

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2006: Second most extreme weather ever

And yet the media isn’t reporting it

Global warming has long been predicted to make the weather more extreme. Wouldn't it be great if there were an official government index of extreme weather -- of heat, drought, rainfall, and hurricanes -- that would let us know if the prediction had come true? Well, such an index exists: the National Climatic Data Center's Climate Extremes Index. As the figure shows, the most extreme year by far was 1998; 2006 was the second most extreme, followed closely by 2005. The fourteen least extreme years all predate 1981. The weather is becoming more extreme, as predicted: Yet my guess is …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Spotlight on Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has been rolling in green editorials. In mid-April he wrote a major piece called "The Power of Green," in which he made the case for his generation to follow the footsteps of the Greatest Generation to become the Greenest Generation. He writes: We in America talk like we're already "the greenest generation," as the business writer Dan Pink once called it. But here's the really inconvenient truth: We have not even begun to be serious about the costs, the effort and the scale of change that will be required to shift our country, …

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More on climate change and national security

Scary stuff

More and more experts are saying global warming is as grave a threat to our national security (PDF) as terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Some in the media are coming to the same view. The Financial Times set up their coverage with the following scenario, pulled from a Pentagon memo: Picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eyeing Russia's Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source ... Envision Pakistan, India and China - all armed with nuclear weapons - skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared river …

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The path to carbon capture and storage

A new report

The Center for American Progress has a terrific new report on "Global Warming and the Future of Coal" by Ken Berlin and Robert Sussman. The report explores what to do about the explosive growth in coal plant construction projected for the coming quarter century -- 1,400 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, with more than 10 percent in the U.S. alone. In the absence of emission controls, these new plants will increase worldwide annual emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately 7.6 billion metric tons by 2030. These emissions would equal roughly 50 percent of all fossil fuel emissions over the past …

Read more: Climate & Energy