Remember that new environmental blog at The New Republic that was "powered by BP"? Apparently it is no longer thus powered. As gratifying as it is, in a schadenfreudey sort of way, to see that other small media operations can be as dysfunctional as, er, some small media operations I’m familiar with. I’m glad this got settled quickly — I really do think it will be a blog worth reading. (This post brought to you by Wal-Mart.)
Ben Tuxworth, communications director at Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. The British press swooned over the visit of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni to the U.K. late last month. We're suckers for the idea of French romance, particularly mixed with wealth, sophistication, and the sort of impetuosity we "rosbifs" can seldom muster. Apparently, Bruni saw Sarkozy on TV and said to a friend, "I want to have a man with nuclear power." And what Bruni wants, Bruni gets. It's unclear whether Sarkozy knew it was his big machinery that attracted Bruni, but a man who is willing to wear high heels to appear as tall as his glamorous spouse clearly has security issues high on his agenda. As it happens, the new entente cordiale between Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is based, amongst other things, on a shared passion for the atom. Together, Britain and France will supply the world with nuclear technology, simultaneously saving the industry, creating thousands of jobs, and sorting our energy security issues. I've already explored why these arguments don't really stack up. The Labor Party's newfound zeal for nuclear power -- and Business Secretary John Hutton's recent speech in which he said expanded nuclear power could be akin to North Sea oil for the British economy -- make these interesting times to ask what the legacy of New Labor will be for the environment. It still seems as if, at some fundamental level, they just don't get it.
Ford Motor Co. has laid out specific plans for reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions of its vehicle fleet at least 30 percent by 2020. The announcement comes in response to shareholder resolutions filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (representing about 300 religious investors) and the Investor Network on Climate Risk, organized by green-minded investment group Ceres. Says Mindy Lubber of Ceres, “Ford is taking a critical first step to align its products with the climate change challenge before us. But, let’s not fool ourselves, this step is only a beginning.”
Last year the Energy Independence and Security Act put into place mandates that will in all likelihood increase GHG emissions. The Lieberman-Warner act (critiqued by Sean here) could turn out to be just as ineffective. From an analysis [PDF] of the Energy Independence and Security Act by the NRDC: ... the requirement for renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biogasoline, will grow from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. So far, so good, but keep in mind that biogasoline, green diesel, algae derived biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol have yet to be proven commercially or environmentally viable. Less than a month ago, the NRDC and our government were under the mistaken impression that our conventional biofuels produced fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. And it gets worse:
Check out Clean Up Dynegy, the brand new website for the Sierra Club's campaign against the company Sierra calls "America's Coal-Fired Polluter Number 1." The campaign is significant in that it represents the first attempt by anti-coal forces to single out a single company on a nationwide basis. It kicked off in late February with mass call-ins to Dynegy headquarters originating from twenty states -- "thousands of calls," according to the Sierra Club. Already, the campaign seems to have hit a nerve, with Dynegy's CEO, Bruce Williamson, lashing out that his company is being unfairly picked on. It probably didn't help Williamson's morale that he was also just picked as one of five executives to receive 2008 "Fossil Fool of the Year" awards.
You knew it had to happen: the World Bank now has the same climate sensibility as ... the Kansas House. Scientist Jim Hansen, on the other hand, has requested a meeting with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, arguing for a moratorium on coal plants until carbon capture and storage technology is available. Even Wall Street looks on coal skeptically. Last Friday, the Kansas House failed to override Sebelius' veto of two new plants by only one vote. And the World Bank is considering funding a massive coal plant in India in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. Yes, you read that correctly: a larger-than-ever coal plant in a developing giant is considered a mechanism for clean development. Why? Because it will burn more efficiently than other coal plants in India. In fact, it boasts 'supercritical' technology.
What does it say about humanity if, knowing what we know, we stand by and allow a 4,000 MW dirty coal plant get built?
This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- One of the great ironies of our time is this: We have learned to walk on the Moon, but we haven't yet learned to walk on the earth. It is an irony that is fast devolving into a tragedy. Since the first man landed on the Moon in 1969, we have continued dumping greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere and making our planet less habitable. Meantime, under the direction of the Bush administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is working toward the goal of settling the moon and Mars. If we could do both -- put human beings on other planets while practicing good stewardship of Earth -- all would be well. But the next missions to the moon and Mars are being prepared at the expense of life at home.
Attention, paparazzi: It’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour in his current New York abode. He’s Departed (or will soon) for a new LEED-certified condo in Manhattan’s Battery Park City neighborhood. DiCaprio’s new digs are quite the eco-residence, featuring solar panels, a green roof, and units "decked out with locally obtained renewable materials and low- or nonpollutant paints, sealants, and adhesives." Of course, the place also features a 50-foot lap pool, dog spa, and in-house branch of the New York Public Library. But who’s counting? Hey, Leo, invite me up? Update: Curious about the price of green living? Well, at 1 River …