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New Contest for Exposing Polluter Lobbyists’ Influence

Are you a lobbyist for the coal industry, looking for the best way to meet members of Congress who will put your dirty energy money ahead of modern environmental standards and their constituents' health? Maybe the chairman of a powerful congressional committee, seeking yet another industry lobbyist to join your staff and help roll back the Clean Air Act, choosing polluters over children's health? Or a giant oil company who wants everyone to forget about that devastating oil spill and need some insiders to pull the strings in the halls of power? If so, then you need to check out Polluterharmony.com …

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Headed for the biggest D'oh! of all

What ‘The Simpsons’ could teach us about global warming

Are climate scientists the Milhouses of America?Cross-posted from Sightline's Daily Score blog. I encourage you to check out a downright awesome analysis of the treatment of global warming on The Simpsons, over at The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media.* Meanwhile, here's my take. The Simpsons phenomenon is a reminder of the power of pop culture to reflect -- and shape -- political attitudes. But, as Sara Peach concludes, the longest running (hardest working?) show on TV hasn't exactly moved the public forward on the issue of climate change -- in terms of basic knowledge about the actual …

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wishful sphinxing

Climate hawks can draw inspiration from the Egyptians

Now they've got another reason to cheer.Photo: 350.org We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in Egypt at the news that Hosni Mubarak has resigned. Egypt has been a big part of the 350 movement from the very first video we ever did, which showed the 350 pennant floating from the pyramids. But we rejoice even more at the example they set for the rest of the world, and implicitly for those of us engaged in the climate fight. A real people's movement -- a massive, broad-based, honest movement that doesn't focus on elites, but instead on the whole population …

Read more: Climate Change, Politics

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food doesn't grow on trees. oh, wait ... yes it does.

Why your money can’t protect you from climate change

It's hard to see how the West will benefit from, say, more floods.Photo: NZRicoIn a recent article in Newsweek, Nobel laureate economist Thomas Schelling argues that one of the greatest obstacles to addressing climate change is persuading the non-poor in the developed world to take the problem seriously. As he states: Estimates of lost world product due to climate change are moderate because the poor have so little to lose. More than a billion people, maybe 2 billion, are estimated to live on less than the equivalent of $2 per day. If a billion of those poorest people lost half …

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Go big or go homeless

The gobsmackingly gargantuan challenge of shifting to clean energy

If I were king, I'd make everyone in America set aside time to watch the first hour of this video. It will change the way you think. Since I'm just a blogger, I expect most people won't, so beneath, I've extracted some of the key slides from Saul Griffith's extraordinary presentation, to give a clear sense of just what an enormous task lies ahead of us this century. Say we decide we want to prevent the climate from entering irreversible feedback loops that spin us into biophysical circumstances our species has never experienced. Seems reasonable, no? To avoid those feedbacks, …

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The Biggest Loser

Are we in a ‘clean energy race’ with China?

A popular line among climate hawks these days goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't support domestic clean energy, China will beat us in the clean energy race. The message has become quite popular lately, and indeed Obama said something very like it in his State of the Union, what with the "Sputnik Moment" (which, because I'm a bad person, I can't help thinking sounds like the title of a porn movie). There's been a wide-ranging debate about the merits of this approach on the interwebs over the last few months. I think it helps to separate the claim …

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if only it were that easy

Republican congressmen vote away scientific facts

Rep. Upton wrote the bill with his trunk.Photo: Eric MolinaCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Barry Goldwater famously said, "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Maybe so, but extremism in the defense of fantasy is a tougher sell. Still, that doesn't stop some members of Congress from trying. Exhibit A this week is the attempt to legislate an alternate reality, offered up by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) with accompanying cheers from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). Their draft bill would eliminate Clean Air Act provisions that would allow the EPA to set common-sense …

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revolution is in the air

Why do states break down?

They can't stop what's coming.Photo: Al Jazeera EnglishUprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and across the Middle East at the start of 2011 have reminded the world just how politically fragile some countries are. But the focus of international politics has been shifting for some time now. After a half-century of forming new states from former colonies and from the breakup of the Soviet Union, the international community is today faced with the opposite situation: the disintegration of states. As an article in Foreign Policy observes, “Failed states have made a remarkable odyssey from the periphery to the very center of global …

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To panic or not to panic

Smackdown: Climate science vs. climate economics

As I see it, there are two incommensurate stories being told about climate change. I'm not talking about the largely fake debate between those who say climate change is happening and human-driven (scientists) and those who say it isn't (the GOP). I'm talking about two different ways of envisioning what we can expect in a climate-changed future, both of which exist among people who take climate change seriously. Sometimes they take up residence in the same head! Like, er, mine. But they don't fit together very well. One comes to us from science, the other from economics. Eban Goodstein wrote …

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Skating on thin ice

Costs of inaction: the price of ice

Click for a larger version.Image: NASAArctic sea ice extent averaged over Januray 2011 its lowest recorded levels since satellite records began in 1979. It was 19,300 square miles below the record low of 5.25 million square miles, set in 2006, and 490,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. Climate change, the crisis many hoped we could ignore for decades, is here. Ice and snow that covered the vast frozen northland for 800,000 years is disappearing rapidly. As countless square miles of the Arctic turn from reflective white to heat-absorbing dark, the result is an acceleration of global warming. And …