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Heat shuts down Chicago marathon

Sweltering humidity and 88-degree temperatures forced yesterday's Chicago marathon to shut down early for the first time in its 30-year history. One runner died, more than 300 were hospitalized, and thousands were really irritated.

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Obama's energy proposal

Barack Obama reveals details of energy plan in speech today

Barack Obama is going to unveil the details of his energy plan today. I haven't seen a copy of the speech or the plan yet, so all I have to go on is the reporting, which is just ... awful. I can't decide which is worse, the L.A. Times, Reuters, or AP. From what I can tell, there are a few potentially big pieces of news. We know already that Obama supports a cap-and-trade system that would reduce GHG emissions 80% by 2050. The marquee news, if I read the obscure prose of the L.A. Times reporter correctly, is that …

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Obama will outline energy plan in New Hampshire

Barack Obama will outline his energy plan later today in a speech in Portsmouth, N.H. Expect him to laud cap-and-trade and energy efficiency, propose spending $150 billion over the next decade on clean energy R&D, and blame politicians for not being ballsy enough to make bold proposals for tackling global warming.

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Sunday Linkfest

Brain food for your day of rest

Tabs, tabs, so many tabs open. Time for a whirlwind tour of my browser! Got a website? Here are 11 carbon-neutral hosting options. Environmental websites that effectively use graphics and imagery to convey the scope of a problem. I particularly like Gapminder. If Bill Clinton didn't clear it up for you, the Christian Science Monitor has a nice little rundown on utility decoupling. The Energy Justice Network has a nice, compact fact sheet on the myth of clean coal. Pass copies out to your friends. Two cool blogs I've recently discovered: Greenline and Apartment Therapy Green. The biggest American banks …

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Cause for humility

Paul Gipe opens one of his books with a story about a big celebration of a new wind project in So. California that was marred when, a few hours beforehand, the turbine oversped and destroyed itself. An executive with the company building the project said something like, "I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the wind turbine destroyed itself. The good news is that we didn't have to evacuate Los Angeles." Popped into my head when I read this: "Huge nuclear-safe containment to be built over the Chernobyl sarcophagus: The 'New Safe Confinement' …

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Debunking Shellenberger & Nordhaus: Part IV

Why bother criticizing S&N?

The question has been raised: Why spend time "debunking" S&N when they seem to be well-meaning folks struggling for a genuine solution to global warming, unlike, say, Bjorn Lomborg? Aside from the fact that they are adding great confusion and misinformation to a critical debate, the answer is simple -- they aren't well-meaning. S&N spend far more time attacking the environmental community (and Al Gore and even Rachel Carson) than they do proposing a viable solution. Worse, they don't even attack the real environmental community -- they spend their time creating a strawman that is mostly a right-wing stereotype of …

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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 …