Climate & Energy

The road not traveled

U.S. driving down 11 billion miles in March, the sharpest drop in history

Price does matter. So does public perception of likely future prices. As it becomes increasingly clear that high gasoline prices are not a fluke, Americans are adjusting their driving habits. March 2008 saw "the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history" of total vehicle miles traveled (aka VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration's monthly report on "Traffic Volume Trends" [PDF]. In March 2008, Americans drove 246 billion milles, compared to 257 billion in March 2007. Indeed, the March 2008 figure is lower than the March 2004 figure. To see just how remarkable that is, look at the annual vehicle-distance traveled data (in billions of miles) since 1983 (this is a moving 12-month total):

Heating heaven

Early appearances of climate change in popular literature

Last week, I picked up a copy of the newly reissued 1971 Ursula Le Guin classic The Lathe of Heaven, which takes place in dystopic, post-collapse Portland, Ore., circa 2002 or so. It's typical brilliance from Le Guin, of whom I can't read enough, but I was interested to see that the novel begins by describing Mt. Hood devoid of snow due to the greenhouse effect. The climate is entirely different from that of the 1960s, with blue skies a thing of the past and rainfall patterns completely shifted. It's the earliest "popular literature" mention of global warming I've come across. Le Guin is often way ahead of her time (she invented Harry Potter and Hogwarts in 1968's A Wizard of Earthsea, for example), though perhaps there are earlier instances of authors adding climate change to the collective body of literature.

On your Markey

Rep. Ed Markey unveils ambitious new climate legislation

Rep. Ed Markey, chair of the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, unveiled new climate legislation on Wednesday morning, which he says will take “the innovative actions needed to ensure a greener, healthier, …

Junk emails go green

You know the spam: the Nigerian oil minister has an outrageous sum of money and desperately needs a foreigner’s help to take it off his hands. But the times are changing — junk email has …

Boxer bill update

Probably no U.S. CO2 emissions cuts from new Lieberman-Warner bill until after 2025

I made a mistake about the Boxer substitute for the Lieberman-Warner bill. Every year, it allows enough offsets into the market to cover 30 percent of the total quantity of emissions allowances. I had said it was 15 percent, which was a loophole the size of the Gateway Arch. How big a loophole is 30 percent offsets? Wait and see. I had said the three offsets -- domestic, international, and international forestry -- could make up 15 percent of allowances because the WRI summary [PDF] says that "The combination of all three of these mechanisms is limited to 15 percent of total emissions allowances" and because when I read the actual bill (page 23), that's what it seemed to say. But in fact we read it wrong. My apologies! What does this all mean?

Environmental Defense Fund, on defense

Group airing ads in support of Climate Security Act in states with swing-vote senators

The ad wars over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act continue: Environmental Defense Fund has just released new ads in support of the legislation. They show a man being struck by falling barrels of oil, telling …

Oil geopolitics in 30 seconds

Stratfor breaks it down

Interesting stuff over on Stratfor about the “Geopolitics of $130 oil.” The short story is: The U.S. is hit, but not too hard, given its transition from manufacturing to services. China gets the worst of …

Walruses should be threatened species, says litigious green group

Having seen no action on a petition from last year, the Center for Biological Diversity says it will sue to force the U.S. Interior Department to consider listing the walrus as a threatened species. Walruses …

Drill here, drill now, pay less

Gingrich mounts campaign to support domestic oil drilling

"Green conservative" and We campaign spokesman Newt Gingrich is mounting a new campaign: "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less." His promise is that (blocking Lieberman-Warner and) opening up drilling off the coasts, in the Gulf …

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