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Mmm ... kiwi ...

New Zealand sounds nice

New Zealand: New Zealand has long had a reputation for being "clean and green" and has a proud record of conservation, with around 30% of its total land area being protected from development. Last week it announced bold plans [PDF] to tackle climate change, following up on a goal set by prime minister Helen Clark at the start of the year for New Zealand to become the world's first carbon neutral country. Among the stated targets, to be legislated within the next year, is generating 90% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2025. ... New Zealand is well …

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Smokin' greens

The eco-depredations of the tobacco industry

Brad Plumer points to what is no doubt going to be a fascinating story on the environmental evils of the tobacco industry. Clicking the link reveals that the story itself won't be available until Oct. 1, but using his prodigious powers of precognition, Brad excerpts this bit: Without even factoring in the paper wrapping, packaging, and print advertisements--which require as much paper by weight as the tobacco being grown--nearly 600 million trees are felled each year to provide the fuel necessary for drying out the tobacco. That means one in eight trees cut down each year worldwide is being destroyed …

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Clinton Global Initiative: Bill and Al, reunited at least

Bill Clinton kicks off annual meeting with big names and big aims

I'm not sure when Al Gore and Bill Clinton were last in the same room together, let alone on a stage together, but they reunited publicly today at the start of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. (And, to focus on the superficial for a moment, their handshake -- clumsy and brief, an afterthought really -- didn't look at all like the sort of handshake you might expect a former U.S. president and his erstwhile second-in-command to share.) Clinton introduced and honored several people before the plenary officially kicked off, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and the president of …

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The deniers are winning the war of words

Climate-skeptic books abound on Amazon’s top sellers list

An Inconvenient Truth is so last year! Al Gore's book may have been No. 1 in 2006, but the global warming deniers and delayers are outselling everyone this year. Of course, Bjørn Lomborg's collection of cherry-picked misinformation, Cool It is the top-selling book in four categories: Climatology, Climate Changes, Public Policy, and even Conservation. But who knew that the top book in both Meteorology and Weather was the Competitive Enterprise Institute's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) -- a book whose title would be accurate if only the word "politically" were removed? And the no. 2 book …

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Bush administration pressured to act on climate by banks, international leaders

The pressure is rising on the Bush administration to take action on climate change. This week, some of the world's leading banks are gathering as lobbying group International Carbon Investors and Services to urge the U.S. and other developed nations to introduce a lightly regulated carbon-trading program. And, in anticipation of Bush's planned summit on global warming later this week, government officials from around the globe went to the White House yesterday to urge mandatory cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. Not to mention the near-constant ragging the administration gets from a certain scrappy, incisive web magazine. Personally, we don't know how …

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You too can be John Dingell's legislative adviser

Dingell wants feedback on his carbon tax bill

Rep. John Dingell is going to put a draft of his carbon tax bill on his website this Thursday, to solicit feedback. (Did I say "tax"? I meant "emissions fee.") Reportedly, this marks the first time Dingell's done something like this. I dunno. If he's just introducing the tax to sabotage the rest of the climate legislation in the House, why do this? Why allow for public comment before introducing a bill if you mean the bill to fail? Inscrutable as usual. Regardless, when he opens it up for feedback, I'm going to head over (hopefully joined by lots of …

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Heating water is a tankless job

On-demand water heaters rock

It's totally goofy, but I love my water heater. It's an "on demand" (also called tankless) unit, so it only turns on when I need to do the dishes or wash some clothes, or do both at the same time, even. I like that it doesn't heat a big tank of water 24/7 on the off chance that I'll need it at any moment. Thus it's small, and when it does turn on it's efficient. When not in use, it's completely off. Even though it runs on gas, it has no eternally burning pilot light, and I like that, too. …

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Coal is the enemy of the human race: <em>New Republic</em> edition

Editorial questions the sequestration promise

The New Republic has a fine, fine editorial about coal today. It calls into question whether spending up to $40 billion on the ten-years-hence promise of carbon sequestration in order to save the coal industry from obsolescence is the best investment we could make to fight global warming. The weak link in the argument is here: Nor is it clear that sequestration will be economical: One GAO analysis predicts that electricity from carbon- capturing plants will cost up to 78 percent more than electricity from conventional coal plants. By the time the technology becomes viable--if it ever becomes viable--solar and …

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Right message, wrong vehicle

Environmental Defense’s climate ads go negative, miss the mark

There's no shortage of messaging on climate change these days, but the latest ad I came across concerned me in the same way that Greenpeace's pissy kid ad did. I just heard the radio version of Environmental Defense's two TV ads (which this hard-rock station was repeating back-to-back, for extra negative impact), which tear a page from the same playbook: "The Gift" features kids reading off a list of lousy things that adults are giving them, like droughts, stronger hurricanes, etc. And then there's the one about time running out alongside a long list of bad things to come called …

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Greenspan vs. Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman

A remarkable bit of radio on Democracy Now

I agree with Joseph Romm that Alan Greenspan is way overrated. Sure, he declares in his new book that "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war is largely about oil." But he adds in his very next sentence, to paraphrase: And that's a good thing. Yes, he supported the war because he saw it as essential to maintaining a smooth flow of oil. Everything else, for him, was political window dressing. And yes, he became a hero to certain liberals because he worked well with Bill Clinton. But what did the …