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A response to Shellenberger & Nordhaus from David Hawkins of NRDC

The following is a guest essay from David Hawkins, director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council. ----- Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger are two passionate but confused individuals. They lambaste "environmentalists" for being fixated with a "pollution paradigm" that operates by "limiting human power" and by "increasing the cost of dirty energy." This approach, they argue, will not solve global warming. What is really needed is a five to ten-fold increase in government expenditures on "breakthrough" energy technologies. While their opinions are strong, their grasp of the facts is not. Unquestionably, we need to shift from …

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U.S. industry may well help push climate legislation through the Senate this session

Joe Lieberman says that comprehensive climate legislation in the Senate is more likely this session than people think (sub. rqd.), and that debate will probably get underway later this year or early next. But the reason he gives isn't exactly comforting: The Connecticut independent said U.S. industry has shifted on the global warming debate and is ready for regulation. "They want the rules of the road to be set by a Congress with the current political makeup," he said. "And they want the rules of the road to be set by an administration that is viewed as a friend of …

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Clinton’s push for sustainable development dismissed by World Bank prez

The opening plenary was fascinating. Clinton explained how CGI commitments had already avoided 20,000,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Then he tried to get Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, to realize that the "Bank can show people options for sustainable development." Zoellick, however, was full of little more than platitudes, saying we need to address "questions of adaptation and mitigation," and noting that there is a sensitivity in the developing world that climate change funds will come at the expense of development -- totally missing Clinton's point that green development is the only winning path (and Gore's point that …

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Shellenberger & Nordhaus respond to critics

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility and "The Death of Environmentalism." Nordhaus and Shellenberger are managing directors at American Environics and the founders of the Breakthrough Institute. ----- This month the world celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the international treaty that phased out ozone-destroying chemicals. For environmentalists, the Montreal Protocol has long been a model for action on global warming. In the words of David Doniger, the climate director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "The lesson from Montreal is …

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Private sector money will not solve the climate crisis

The Clinton Global Initiative is ongoing. Rich folk and businesses are committing large sums of money to solving global problems like education, public health, and climate change. Matt injects a welcome note of realism: In those fields, it really seems to me that Bill Clinton could do much more good using his charisma and standing to try to convince rich guys and executives at big companies to take a more enlightened attitude toward the political process, to return to the sort of public-spirited involvement in public affairs that characterized the business class in the 1950s and 60s. Realistically, you can't …

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Dell Inc. pledges to go carbon neutral

PC manufacturer Dell Inc. has announced plans to go entirely carbon neutral by next year. (Take that, Nokia!) The company will focus on energy efficiency and renewable power, and offset additional emissions. In addition, Dell's "Plant a Tree for Me" program, wherein customers can direct funds to global tree planting, will expand to "Plant a Forest for Me," a partnership with other organizations to facilitate sustainable reforestation. No doubt Dell, which recently lost its No. 1 spot in the PC market, hopes new green measures will help it turn over a new leaf.

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Van Jones has helped push equity to the center of the green discussion

Back in March of this year, I interviewed Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif. He was excited because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had adopted his "green-collar jobs" language and agreed to craft legislation around it. In August, such legislation was introduced in the House. Now things are taking off like crazy. Earlier this week the Senate Environment Committee held a hearing on green jobs, where Sen. Barbara Boxer brandished Jones' work and said, "we still have a chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming and in doing so, we will also strengthen our economy …

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Inspector general’s report finds problems with royalty-collection program at Interior

A new report by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general points to a "profound failure" of the technology that the Minerals Management Service uses to monitor the roughly $10 billion in oil and gas royalty payments from energy companies each year. But it's not just the technology. Higher-ups in the agency apparently decided that even after catching oil companies underpaying by over $1 million, it would impose too much of a "hardship" on the companies to require them to calculate the royalties owed, despite the fact that MMS' own computers weren't capable of making the necessary calculations. The report was …

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It’s a hot topic on campus these days

As an undergrad at Brown University and a veteran organizer with the Sierra Student Coalition, Nathan Wyeth has his ear to the ground on campus sustainability issues. In this occasional column for Grist, Wyeth will report on what's afoot at the campus grassroots level and how he and his fellow students are making their voices heard. ----- A debate has been swirling on Gristmill for the past few weeks over the role of voluntary actions versus government policy in solving climate change specifically, and environmental problems generally. I'd like to stir this pot further and add another ingredient -- what …

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Solar-powered homes a bright spot in California housing market

Take that, housing market: Solar-powered homes in California are outshining the competition.