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Reshaping market economies

A reply to Shellenberger & Nordhaus

It's rare for any environmental book to receive the attention garnered by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger's Break Through, particularly outside the usual green circles. Anything that prompts conversation on these issues is, in and of itself, a good thing. So one hesitates to point out that beneath all the hype -- the "death" of this, the "fundamental break" from that -- the book's arguments are fairly modest. Banal even. The word from the "bad boys of environmentalism" is that environmentalists should be more positive and support greater public investment in clean energy technology. Well ... OK. The argument about …

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More from the dark side

How climate skeptics like Fred Singer operate

Several posts ago, I reproduced a few emails to and from well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer. Since then, I've had a few other exchanges emailed to me. They give great insight into how skeptics work the system to promote their view. Here's the best one: To: John Marburger, Science Advisor to the President From: Fred Singer Dear Jack Is this story accurate? And if so, are you basing yr statement on the IPCC summary -- or do you have other evidence you might be willing to share? Thanks Fred BUSH AIDE SAYS WARMING MAN-MADE BBC News, 14 September 2007 By …

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DOE hasn’t opened Yucca nuclear-waste dump, must pay millions for breach of contract

As if the saga of Nevada's Yucca Mountain wasn't ridiculous enough, a court has ruled that the Department of Energy's failure to open the nuclear-waste repository on time will have a price tag of $116.5 million, payable to Xcel Energy for breach of contract. And just to remind you of the ridiculousness, in the words of Minnesota State Senator Ellen Anderson: "[E]ven if Yucca Mountain does open, which I'm very skeptical it will, there is no reason to believe it will take our waste away. This problem is one that I don't expect to be solved in my lifetime."

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Fashion, victim of climate change

Designers lament what will happen when there are no seasons

Forget melting ice caps, disappearing polar-bear habitat, and rising seas that will inundate major metropolises (metropolii?) worldwide -- the real issue I've got with global warming is the impending devastation of the fashion industry. "The whole fashion system will have to change," says Beppe Modenese, called the founding father of Milan Fashion Week. "[It] must adapt to the reality that there is no strong difference between summer and winter anymore." And what a sad reality it is. Let's, for a moment, focus on some endangered species that have yet to get their moment in the climate-change-gloom-and-doom spotlight: the tweed pea …

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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 …

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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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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: • …

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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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