Climate & Energy

The Pennsyltucky perspective

No difference between McCain and Dems on climate

I got home yesterday from canvassing for Barack Obama in the outskirts of Harrisburg, Penn. and found last week's edition of The Patriot-News (whose politics reporter, Brett Lieberman, describes the state as "Pennsyltucky" for its unique mix of urban, industrial, and backwoods), including a "Find Your Match" voter guide with a chart that's supposed to help people figure out which candidate is closer to them on key policies. Here's what the chart said about Obama, Clinton, and McCain on global warming: Clinton: $150 billion, 10-year energy package for new fuel sources; backed stringent caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. Obama: $150 billion, 10-year program for "climate friendly" energy supplies, favors stringent caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. McCain: Led Senate effort to cap greenhouse-gas emissions; favors tougher fuel efficiency.

Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars

New Sundance doc tells the story of the TXU coal fight in Texas

I finally got around to watching my preview copy of Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars, the new short documentary from Robert Redford’s Sundance outfit. It’s about the battle over the 12 coal plants proposed for Texas by TXU in 2007. A couple things that I thought were quite well done: Environmentalists play virtually no role — they’re scarcely seen, except on the edge of the action. The main players are small-town Texans and Texas mayors. It’s very clear that this isn’t about do-gooding from outsiders; it’s about Texans defending their own interests. Global warming plays very little role — I …

Me, worry?

Most Americans don’t believe global warming will pose a threat to them

A new series of Pew polls shows public concern for climate change is out of sync with the science:

Let's dump 'Earth' Day

Environment Day? Triage Day? The holiday needs more than a new name

Affection for our planet is misdirected and unrequited. We need to focus on saving ourselves. I have a new piece in Salon: "Let's dump 'Earth' Day." It is supposed to be mostly humorous. Or mostly serious. Anyway, the subject of renaming Earth Day has been on my mind for a while. An excerpt:

Fortune Brainstorm Green

An interview with Vinod Khosla

Adam Lashinsky interviews Vinod Khosla. I liveblog. VK’s four major investment areas: oil, coal, efficiency, and materials. AL: India finance minister called biofuels a crime against humanity. What up? VK: Food-based ethanol isn’t the big driver of food prices. Regardless, biofuels don’t have to be food-based. AL: But you’ve invested in food-based ethanol. VK: Only one, Cilian (sp?), to see if we could get a big reduction. But cellulosic has moved so quickly, it’s now clear that’s the winner. Price of oil has much larger impact on price of food that price of, say, corn. Also, a Merrill Lynch study …

Feds set fuel-economy benchmarks for automakers

Federal regulators will propose benchmarks Tuesday for automakers to hit on their way to reaching a fuel-economy requirement of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Auto fleets will have to average 27.8 mpg by 2011 and 31.6 mpg by 2015 — a more aggressive timetable than was required by Congress. That’s 35.7 mpg for passenger cars in 2015 (new cars averaged 31.3 mpg last year) and 28.6 mpg for light trucks (new trucks averaged 23.1 mpg last year). The proposal manages to gain acceptance from both automakers and enviros. Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers spokesfolks said the numbers will “stretch the …

Please, sir, I want some GMOs

Worldwide resistance to GMOs dwindle as food bills rise

For a while now, I’ve been cautioning people that surging prices for industrial food don’t necessarily “level the playing field” for sustainably produced fare. In fact, the few giant companies that dominate the global food system are fattening themselves on higher prices, consolidating their grip over the world’s palate. Last week, new Gristmill blogger Anna Lappe showed that Cargill — a major producer of everything from fertilizer to biofuel to meat — recently reported an 86 percent jump in quarterly earnings. And Monday, Andrew Pollack of The New York Times reported that sky-high prices are breaking down global resistance to …

Fortune Brainstorm Green

Lomborg does his shtick

God knows why, but they invited Bjorn Lomborg for a short one-on-one interview. Somewhat embarrassingly for Fortune, they got about a third of the crowd that’s come to most other sessions. Apparently people are tired of his shtick. For some reason, Adam Lashinsky from Fortune is kissing Lomborg’s ass, asking him to “challenge our cozy consensus,” granting him his self-proclaimed status as “skeptical,” talking about how challenging he is, blah blah. Lashinsky: Do you know the deniers? Lomborg: Yes, and it makes me uncomfortable. I want the people who don’t like me to like me, and the people who like …

A REDtime story

Recycled Energy Development is in The Atlantic this month, as a part of a larger story by Lisa Margonelli about the potential for waste energy recycling at U.S. industrials.