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Joseph Romm's Posts

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Planet Gore disinfotainment watch: The big lie of magical pollution reduction

Pollution hasn’t gone down of its own accord

It was only a matter of time before Planet Gore got around to the most famous bit of disinformation. The big lie is to tout the fact that the air has gotten cleaner in recent decades while conveniently ignoring the fact that the reason for this achievement is environmental activism leading to tough air pollution standards. Progressives must push back hard on this big lie (something John Kerry failed to do with George Bush in the second Presidential debate). Planet Gore proclaims proudly today: Imagine this headline on page A1 today: "The environment is getting cleaner." Given the daily state …

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Is corn ethanol a climate solution?

Depends on how it’s made

It depends on the fuel used to drive the conversion process -- according to a new study: In particular, greenhouse gas emission impacts can vary significantly -- from a 3% increase if coal is the process fuel to a 52% reduction if wood chips are used. These results come from the energy life-cycle wizards of Argonne Lab, who have published a new study, "Life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emission impacts of different corn ethanol plant types," in the open-access Environmental Research Letters. Here is a figure showing "well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emission changes by fuel ethanol relative to gasoline": The greenhouse …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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GM Volts into the lead

Looks like the plug-in might actually happen

General Motors is apparently serious about introducing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which I have repeatedly argued is the car of the future (PDF). The race is now on between Toyota and GM as to who will be the first to introduce this game-changing vehicle. The Chevy Volt is to be the "legacy" of Robert Lutz, GM's vice chair of product development, according to Business Week's "Auto Beat" column. The Volt will go about 40 miles on an electric charge before reverting to being a regular gasoline-powered hybrid. Given that the vast majority of drives are under 20 miles round …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Alaskan: 'I don't want to live in permafrost no more.'

Not so perma, not so frosty

Thanks to global warming, the permafrost is no longer very perma, nor very frosty. I've noted before about how the ultimate release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases formerly trapped in the tundra could create a "self-perpetuating climate time bomb." But we shouldn't ignore the severe local impacts. The New York Times has a front-page story on what global warming has done to the Alaskan village of Newtok: Sea ice that would normally protect coastal villages is forming later in the year, allowing fall storms to pound away at the shoreline. Erosion has made Newtok an island .... The village …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Worse than a prisoner's dilemma

The cost of acting first on climate change vs. the cost of not acting

"Lose-lose: the penalties of acting alone stall collective effort on climate change" is an article the Financial Times ran a while back. While the piece gives a panoramic analysis of the international prisoner's dilemma, there are two other angles that are missing. The first is the penalties of no one acting. According to the UK's environmental minister, the economic rationale for inaction is that the first country to act risks undergoing some degree of economic hardship. This, he explains, is "the last refuge of the deniers -- the idea that it's not worth anyone doing anything unless everyone does it." …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Yet another must-read by James Hansen

On ‘scientific reticence’ and sea-level rise

Sea level rise of 5 meters in one century? Even if most scientists will not say so publicly, that catastrophe is a real possibility, according to the director of NASA's Goddard Institute Of Space Studies. It may seem like I single Hansen out for recommended reading. But that's only because he: is the nation's top climatologist writes prolifically speaks with unusually bluntness for a scientist has been more right than just about any climate scientist He has written a terrific piece for the open-access Environmental Research Letters on "Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise": I suggest that a "scientific reticence" …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Bush's dumb luck on emissions

They went down because of random factors, not Bush

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped 1.3% in 2006, as the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday. President Bush immediately took credit: "We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment." [Please, no laughing.] In spite of the fact that Bush has actually gutted programs aimed at the promoting clean energy technologies, last year's emissions dropped because of: higher gasoline prices, a sharp drop in heating demand from an unusually warm winter, which helped bring about a decline in natural gas prices (and hence more use of this clean fuel for …

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Post of the day: Crichton's fictions

More debunkery of everyone’s favorite fiction writer

While Planet Gore now has the market cornered on entertaining global warming disinformation, Michael Crichton perfected it. For those last two or three people who still think the technothriller writer has his facts straight, check out reasic's terrific post on Crichton's inane 2003 talk, "Aliens Cause Global Warming." Yes, Crichton, a real medical doctor, actually said: Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds? Wow! Not knowing the difference between weather and …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The growth rate of carbon emissions has tripled

That ain’t good

A stunning new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds that the growth rate of CO2 emissions has tripled in recent years: CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning and industrial processes have been accelerating at a global scale, with their growth rate increasing from 1.1 percent/year for 1990-1999 to >3 percent/year for 2000-2004. The emissions growth rate since 2000 was greater than for the most fossil-fuel intensive of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions scenarios developed in the late 1990s. That's right. CO2 emissions are rising faster than in the most pessimistic U.N. scenario. So …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Planet Gore Disinfotainment Watch: Claiming climate mitigation must be regressive

Conservative blog doesn’t read studies it writes about

As discussed last week, Planet Gore's Sterling Burnett was upset with the media for supposedly ignoring "the recent reports by MIT and the CBO [PDFs] detailing the substantial costs and regressive nature of the costs that are estimated to arise if any of the current domestic proposals restricting carbon emissions to combat global warming are enacted." Given that the MIT report in fact concluded the exact opposite of what Sterling claimed -- and given the fact that the National Review typically doesn't complain about the regressive nature of, say, tax cuts for the wealthy -- I'm guessing you won't be …

Read more: Climate & Energy