Climate & Energy

Bright lights, big energy

Hybrid solar lighting: a solar retrofit for hot climates

A fascinating commercial application for solar energy in clear (or semi-clear) hot climates seems to not be getting the attention it deserves: hybrid solar lighting. You take a parabolic concentrator and focus some sunlight, optically split with plastic fiber into visible light and heat. Pipe the visible light through diffusers throughout the building. It saves lighting electricity, of course, but unlike skylights or conventional T8s, it adds almost no heat to the building. In a cooling climate it saves about a third as much in air-conditioning energy as it does in light.

Beam me down, Scotty

Can we shoot concentrated solar power down from space?

CNN takes a look an energy long shot that could change the game on climate change: space-based solar power. The idea is to launch satellites covered with solar panels up into geosynchronous orbit, where the …

Nukes, part II: nuclear bomb

Bite-sized version of longer nuke study is on Salon

If you are looking for a shorter, more readable version of my study, "The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power," I've got just the thing. Salon has published my article, "Nuclear bomb: Nuclear energy, the sequel, is opening to raves by everybody from John McCain to a Greenpeace co-founder. Don't be fooled. It's the Ishtar of power generation." As the article points out, back in May 2001, the Economist explained ($ub. req'd) that nuclear power had fallen out of favor because it simply was "too costly to matter." Today, nuclear power is nearly three times the price it was when the Economist wrote that.

DOE applies to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Department of Energy has filed a formal application to construct a nuclear-waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The application, which runs tens of thousands of pages, attempts to prove that 77,000 tons of …

Jumping ship from the USS Fossil

Climate action advocates need a simple, compelling message on costs

As this lamentable New York Times piece demonstrates, advocates for action on climate change have lost the framing battle. If they don’t want to lose the war for America’s future, they need to step back, …

Tuesday link dump

A little bit of this, a smidge of that

The ol’ browser’s getting a little clogged up. Time to stop thinkin’ and start linkin’! Yee-haw. —– Eco-friendly bombs! A couple of crack economists at Environmental Defense Fund synthesized the results of several different economic …

The price isn't quite right yet

Carbon pricing is about tweaking the little, everyday decisions we make

I’d like to add one quick addendum to my previous post on cap-and-trade. When we consider the extent to which we need to reduce our emissions in the abstract, it can appear quite daunting. This …

Fear of the day

What if the anticipation of carbon legislation has driven more investment away from coal than actual carbon legislation will?

Leafy laws

Climate bills would save world’s forests

More money for forests and wildlife conservation than has ever been available in history The regrowth of many of the world's forests Massive quantities of greenhouse gases sucked out of the air Those are a few of the benefits of the newest versions of the climate legislation now being considered in the House and Senate. Both the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill [PDF] and Rep. Ed Markey's latest proposal [PDF] include massive financing for forest and land conservation that could save these planetary lungs. Both bills are based on a fundamental recognition that trees suck up vast quantities of carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen -- and that standing pristine forests and grasslands (especially tropical forests) are a tremendous storehouse of carbon that we've got to keep safely locked up in forests. Indeed, deforestation for agriculture and logging is already driving 20 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions and is the biggest single source in the developing world. And so these bills would unleash unprecedented levels of financing to preserve great natural reserves from Big Ag, Big Timber, and land-hungry peasants. But the ways in which they do it -- and the overall scope of the bills -- could spell very different fates for the forests and grasslands they're meant to save. The Lieberman-Warner bill would allow polluters to offset their own pollution with more than 25 percent offsets through domestic and international forest, grassland, and agricultural conservation, reforestation, and afforestation -- amounting to billions of dollars a year in financing opportunities. Polluters are likely to jump at these forestry offset opportunities: Because of the relatively low price of land and the immense quantities of carbon stored in the forests, conserving forests is generally a lot cheaper than cleaning up industrial pollution. The Markey bill takes a different approach. In the past, there's been some skepticism that offsets from forestry could be accurately tracked. In the words of a senior adviser to Markey's global warming committee, "You can't plug a meter into a tree to see how much carbon was sucked in that day." There were also concerns in the past that it would be hard to accurately track whether a forest that was "saved" would actually have been cut down in the absence of financing or conservation action.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

Sure!  
×