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Climate & Energy


Putting your inner political superego on hold

A utopian realist agenda

Recently Nordhaus and Shellenberger (N&S) posted on Gristmill, wrote in The New Republic, and published a book, all with the aim of offering a better alternative to the mainstream environmental agenda. In my estimation, they made three important points: Americans would respond to a positive vision of the future; global warming can only be solved if, in addition to regulatory policies, we embark on a program of public investment; and the public is quite open to the idea of public investment. Unfortunately, they didn't do much with that great start. I think I know why: the central thrust of the …


Hint: Two words that both start with 'c'

Why $100-per-barrel oil would be no big deal

At current levels of around $80 per barrel, oil prices have leapt nearly eightfold since 1998. Many observers would have predicted economic disaster from such a leap, but the global economy just keeps chugging along. An interesting article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal reports that many analysts figure that $100/barrel oil is on the way -- and that the global economy will shrug that off, too. I was working in Mexico as a finance reporter in 1998-99, and wrote some about the first stages of the oil rally. Back then, most analysts seemed to figure that oil would settle around …


Social primates are still social primates

Important article on social norms and pro-environment behavior

This article is a little slow getting started, but valuable nonetheless.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Why is Uncle Sam so committed to reviving nuclear power?

A guest essay from Peter Montague analyzes the nuclear ‘renaissance’

The following is a guest essay from Peter Montague, executive director of the Environmental Research Foundation. ----- The long-awaited and much-advertised "nuclear renaissance" actually got under way this week. NRG Energy, a New Jersey company recently emerged from bankruptcy, applied for a license to build two new nuclear power plants at an existing facility in Bay City, Texas -- the first formal application for such a license in 30 years. NRG Energy has no experience building nuclear power plants but they are confident the U.S. government will assure their success. "The whole reason we started down this path was the …


Fool me once ...

The real story behind the Bush administration’s climate claims

In preparation for the Major Economies Meeting, the Bush administration distributed a matrix to invited countries, to assist them in documenting their national and international efforts on climate change. The U.S. government circulated a draft documenting activities in the U.S., trying to give the impression that the U.S. is taking meaningful action on climate change. A number of environmental organizations have analyzed the claims in the U.S. matrix. Their analysis can be found in the shaded right hand column of this document, to help reporters understand the real story behind the administration's claims. Groups contributing to this effort include: • …


Coal-solar hybrid

It doesn’t make sense — and that’s the point

More than a few people were taken in by a guy peddling a coal/solar hybrid system at Solar Power 2007. "But, smokestacks on the roof -- that just doesn't make sense," said a government bureaucrat, who shall remain unnamed pending resolution of my grant proposal. Indeed, it doesn't. As the less credulous might have predicted, it was a marketing spoof by Sharp Solar: This, fight fans, is textbook campaigning in the YouTube era. Come up with a shtick that makes your points judo-style, make it funny, post it on the internets and watch your message spread.

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The market isn't enough

Ted Nordhaus responds to NRDC’s Dave Hawkins

The following post is from Ted Nordhaus, responding to an essay from David Hawkins of the NRDC. ----- David, You and I have always maintained a respectful relationship so I'll pass on the name calling and just respond to the content of your response. You say, "the authors are wrong in their claim that we have to wait for new 'breakthrough' technologies before we can move away from dirty resources." You know this in not true. We have never suggested such a thing. We made clear in our book, we made clear in the New Republic excerpt, and we made …


The race to catch up

McKibben’s clarion call

Bill McKibben has a clarion call of an op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post. The reality of climate change is moving much more quickly than politics: The Democratic majority is finally beginning to move legislation that would commit the United States to long-term reductions in carbon dioxide emissions -- the first law Congress might actually pass in the years since global warming became an issue. But here, too, the legislative process is backing away from what science demands -- a strong bill put forward by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is in danger of being supplanted by half-measures …


A hoax based on a fraud

Rush Limbaugh calls climatologist James Hansen a ‘double agent’

Earlier this week, the notorious Rush Limbaugh got in trouble for calling soldiers in Iraq opposed to the war "phony." Thursday he called the science of ozone depletion "phony" and the science of climate change "fraudulent." Limbaugh went on to accuse Dr. James Hansen, America's top climatologist, of being "dishonest," compared him to a "CIA double agent," and said he should be "drummed out of NASA." Does anyone take Limbaugh seriously anymore? Apparently, the answer is yes. Here are facts and links for the open-minded: Freon and other chlorofluorocarbons do deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere, according to the Environmental …

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'Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah'

Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook

Bush has given us a new drinking game: Down a shot whenever the President uses the word "technology" in a climate speech. You'd get 19 shots for yesterday's 21 minute speech! As predicted, Bush closely follows the Frank Luntz playbook on how to seem like you care about the climate when you don't. Bush stated the basic do-nothing message well: Our investments in research and technology are bringing the world closer to a remarkable breakthrough -- an age of clean energy where we can power our growing economies and improve the lives of our people and be responsible stewards of …