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Got $100 billion?

U.S. solar boom requires policy and money (not sunshine), says report

With the right policies in place, the U.S. will add more solar thermal plants, like this one in Spain. Photo: Bilfinger Berger GroupThe United States is on the verge of a solar boom that could provide 4.3 percent of the nation's electricity by 2020, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. There's just a 12-figure catch: Investors need to put $100 billion into the solar industry to keep the generation of solar electricity growing by 42 percent a year for the next decade to expand capacity from the current 1.4 gigawatts to 44 gigawatts. "Policy measures such …


in good company

Getting down to business on climate change

Wait in line for new climate regulations? You won't catch smart companies falling for that.There will come a time when governments are forced to act on global climate change. Its impacts will be increasingly devastating and undeniable. Its costs will swell like a tsunami. We will see many more Katrinas with victims stranded not because governments are incompetent, but because they are overwhelmed. When that time comes, politicians' careers will depend on taking action. Clearly, that moment hasn't yet arrived. In the foreseeable future, it appears advocates of climate action will play defense rather than offense on Capitol Hill and …


The Pope-mobile runs on dirty fossil fuels

Art Pope's millions fund climate change denial

Art Pope.There's broad agreement among scientists nowadays that global warming is real and caused in large part by human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. For example, a survey [PDF] by university researchers published last year in Eos, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, found that 90 percent of earth scientists agree that mean global temperatures have generally risen since the 1800s, and 82 percent think human activity contributes significantly. As respondents' level of specialization in climate science increased, so did their confidence in human-caused global warming, with climatologists who actively work on climate change agreeing …


It ain't so

Most products claiming to be green are living in sin

A new survey says 95 percent of labels with "green" claims are misleading.Photo: xrrrOf course you can't believe everything you read on labels, especially when it comes to green claims. But the BS is a lot more rampant than even the cynic in me suspected.    Because we say so:  A new survey by TerraChoice, the environmental marketing firm, concludes that more than 95 percent of the "green" products it analyzed were guilty of at least one sin of greenwashing. The bogus promises are particularly bad when it comes to toys and baby products -- TerraChoice found that 100 percent of …


spacing out on this one

Space tourism may ignite the effects of global warming

Maybe if there weren't so many movies shot in space, we wouldn't have this problem.Photo: Mark Bult If you "just want to get away" from Earth for a while by indulging your new hobby of space exploration, you may find the planet pretty steamed when you get back. According to researchers, the budding space tourism industry may be mooning efforts to slow climate change by blasting extra soot, or black carbon, from rocket engines high into the atmosphere. Ten years of soot from commercial space flight might do as much harm as soot from all current commercial air travel. (Soot …


Back in black

Texas oil companies pump new round of cash into California climate fight

With a week to go until Election Day, a gusher of Texas oil money is flowing once more into California to support Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would suspend the state's global warming law. Tesoro and Valero, the Texas oil companies that are largely funding Prop 23, contributed $1.5 million to the campaign on Friday. It was the first seven-figure donation since Sept. 2, when the billionaire Koch brothers dropped $1 million into campaign coffers, according to California Secretary of State records. But in the intervening months, when contributions from the petrochemical industry dwindled mostly to a few five-figure …


The right to bear farms

Can Congress make a food-safety omelet without breaking the wrong eggs?

What's HACCP-ening?: Egg-washing practices at small farms like this one come under scrutiny in Congress's current food-safety bill. Photo: Bart NagelIt's been a long two years since Congress started debating the passage of a new food safety law. While our legislators were busy pontificating, wave after wave of contaminated-food recalls washed across the country, leaving unsuspecting eaters gagging in their wake. Meanwhile, the internet has surged with rumors claiming that if passed, the bills will give the FDA the power to outlaw organic practices or backyard food-growing. Those rumors aren't true, but they're based on a real concern for how …


should we give it our ethanol?

Our biofuel future: The bitter taste of land grabs and hunger

I admit I haven't been paying the most attention to the topic of biofuels the past few years, after studies made fairly clear that the social, energy, and environmental benefits of the predominant player, corn ethanol, were generally overhyped when factors like oily fertilizers and the wisdom of converting more land to corn came into play. Would Roz by any other name find biofuels as sweet?Photo: Roz NaylorAs it turns out, this not-uncommon assumption, that the biofuel bubble has burst, is an a-maize-ing farce, pointed out Rosamond (Roz) Naylor, professor of environmental earth systems and economics at Stanford, in the …


tuna out

One-fifth of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna killed by BP oil spill

This map depicts the length of time oil was in the Gulf. The lightest orange indicates 1-3 weeks coverage; the darkest is 16-18 weeks.Image: European Space AgencyIt's been six months since the BP oil spill and we now know the answer to the question of how badly the spill would hurt spawning bluefin tuna. New satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) shows that 20 percent of juvenile bluefin tuna have been killed by oil. Which is pretty significant since Atlantic bluefin have declined over 80 percent in the past 30 years, and at current fishing rates the critically endangered fish …


Which, no doubt, is the next one over from the Chamber of Secrets

Scholastic steps into the Chamber of Hypocrisy

Image: Scholastic, U.S. Chamber [PDF]Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Politico reports that the Scholastic company -- producer and distributor of a wide range of educational products to our nation's school systems -- has teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on an "educational" program about U.S. energy consumption. In the article, entitled "Chamber: Worry about energy regulations, kids," Politico writes: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants middle school students to consider what would happen if government regulations shut down the coal industry or another domestic energy source. The question is part of a teaching guide the group plans to distribute to roughly …