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Never doubt that a small group ...

The threat from climate deniers

People forget that Margaret Mead's overused quote about small groups being able to change the world doesn't necessarily imply "in a good way." Here's an interesting interview to think about when you next read something from folks like the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or Bjorn Lomborg: In the 18th century elites predominated among the politically active. So it was natural for the founding fathers to worry mainly about faction while blissfully overlooking fanaticism or the problems of followership. Given the 20th century experience with authoritarian rule one wonders, however, whether contemporary government structures or ideas about …

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It's the efficiency, stupid

Water limits on power plants

From Greenwire today (sub req'd): water availability may limit new power plants. This is widely appreciated in the power sector, but doesn't get as much attention elsewhere. It's especially acute as our population growth moves south and west where we are especially water-limited. What's under-appreciated is that this is a story about efficiency. When two thirds of the fuel we burn in power plants is wasted as heat, and that heat is rejected in cooling towers (at least in coal and nuke facilities), any gain in energy efficiency is a reduction in water use. Given the huge gains available in …

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Bring in the noise

For every problem there’s a solution that’s simple, attractive, and wrong

Like the noise standard one jurisdiction in Michigan has adopted for wind turbines: "Based on their studies, noise was identified as a key problem. After lengthy research and discussion the regulation was made simple. "If it makes noise and we can measure it, you shut it down," Arndt said." Shall we apply that to coal burners and natural gas turbines (jet engines)??

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An interview with Sam Brownback about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Sam Brownback dropped out of the presidential race on Oct. 19, 2007. Sam Brownback. Photo: IowaPolitics.com "America is on the verge of an energy crisis," Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) warns on his presidential campaign website, blaming "years of neglect and shortsighted domestic policies." His solution? Incentivize the marketplace to develop more nuclear power, more renewables, plug-in hybrids, better biofuels, and other homegrown energy sources and technologies. Brownback has been a big advocate of ethanol and other biofuels throughout the decade he's spent …

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The meaning of global warming, part one

Stabilizing the climate requires technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. ----- Thank you to everyone here who has participated in this discussion. We are grateful to Grist to making the space for this debate, and to everyone who has chimed in. Through agreement and disagreement alike, it is inspiring to find this many people joining a conversation about how to achieve a common goal. It is the argument of Break Through that we need to replace …

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British government approves world’s largest offshore wind farm

Plans for the world's largest offshore wind farm have been approved by the British government. The project, led by Shell and European energy company Eon, would place up to 341 turbines over 90 square miles off the coast of Kent. While it's not a done deal, presumably the biggest regulatory hurdles have been overcome; if all goes well, the farm could supply one-quarter of London's power by 2010.

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Yucca Mountain may be doubled in size, need more funding

In a move sure to endear Nevada's Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository to fiercely opposed Nevadans, the Department of Energy has proposed doubling its size. Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) concisely sums up the reaction of the sane: "Doubling the size of Yucca Mountain will only double the danger. This is not a bad dream; it's a nightmare." In addition, the DOE's Edward F. Sproat III told the House Budget Committee this week that the project will need up to three times its current funding, or the current estimated opening date of 2017 will have to be delayed. Berkley again: "Yucca …

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Nice electrical power you got there. Shame if something happened to it.

The coal industry’s extortion is on increasingly obvious display

Good God. If you want to see the coal industry's bizarre, Möbius strip arguments in all their glory, check out this Reuters article conveying the comments of Brett Harvey, CEO of coal producer Consol Energy. The mind reels. I want to look at some of the individual statements, but what it comes down to is this: Harvey says we can't live without coal -- there's no other way to get the power we need. But coal can't afford to clean itself up. So if we want clean power, taxpayers have to pay for it. In short: extortion. That is the …

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Debunking Shellenberger & Nordhaus -- Part III

What Californians know that Shellenberger & Nordhaus don’t

"The kind of technological revolution called for by energy experts typically does not occur via regulatory fiat" claim Shellenberger & Nordhaus. Actually, that is typically the only way it occurs. I defy anyone to name a country that has successfully adopted alternative fuels for vehicles without employing some kind of regulatory mandate. This is also true in the electricity sector. Consider that in terms of electricity consumption, the average Californian generates under one third the carbon dioxide emissions of the average American while paying the same annual bill. Did California accomplish this by technology breakthroughs that S&N mistakenly say we …

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