Climate & Energy

Summit of its parts

Bush administration, other G8 leaders agree to halve emissions by 2050

Today at the G8 summit, which began yesterday in Hokkaido, Japan, world leaders reached a landmark deal: agreeing to cut emissions in half by 2050. The leaders agreed to “seriously consider” this goal last year, …

RNC: 'balance' = a climate in crisis; Senate GOP: 'balance' = climate-destroying shale

Republican leaders advocate domestic shale development

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." The Republican National Committee just launched an ad called, "Balance" claiming we have "a climate in crisis." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the Climate Destruction Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008 late last month that would repeal the congressional moratorium on shale development. In a press release today titled, "A Balanced Approach to Reducing Gas Prices for Americans," he claimed that, "Our western states are sitting on a sea of oil three times as large as the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia." Actually, the shale ain't a sea of anything. It is a clay-like rock, organic marlstone, containing very little energy [PDF] -- per pound, it has one-tenth the energy of crude oil, one-fourth that of recycled phone books, one-third that of Cap'n Crunch. Turning it into a usable liquid fuel would require a massive amounts of energy and probably release more carbon dioxide than even liquid coal. The best analysis of the climate risks of unconventional oil, "Risks of the oil transition," coauthored by the late Alex Farrell, has an outstanding figure that shows that from a climate perspective, shale is probably worse than liquid coal (which is pretty damn bad):

Salzburg Global Seminar: prelude

Dave heads to where the hills are alive

Listen Play "Prelude," from The Sound of Music On Wednesday, I leave for Salzburg, Austria, where — thanks to the generosity of a Knight Foundation Fellowship — I will be attending a session of the …

How to green your day job

Simple steps are the key to a greener office. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to waste we go. Nope, those aren’t the lyrics the Disney dwarves belted out en route to the daily grind, but in …

Texas oilman unveils Pickens Plan to avert U.S. energy crisis

T. Boone Pickens. Photo: University of Texas America has a problem, and T. Boone Pickens has a solution. “U.S. dependency on foreign oil has reached an economic crisis point,” says the infamous Texas oilman, who …

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and eco-problem solver, chats about his plans to save the world

Jeffrey Sachs speaks at the University of North Carolina. Photo: Kevin Tsui Jeffrey Sachs — the renowned economist who devised a grand plan in 2005 to rid the world of poverty — is now focused …

G8 nations agree to cut emissions 50 percent by 2050 (sort of)

At this year’s Group of Eight meeting in Japan, the world’s richest nations more or less agreed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. While the agreement is notable since it means President Bush …

'Cooling a fevered planet' in <em>Z</em> Magazine

Economics, policy, and vision for fighting global warming

Z magazine has published an extended article by me on the politics and economics of global warming. It begins: Nobody, except for a small lunatic fringe, still disputes that human-caused climate chaos endangers all of us. Further, most serious scientific and technical groups who have looked at the question have concluded that we have the technological capability today to replace greenhouse-gas emitting fossil fuels with efficiency improvements and clean energy -- usually at a maximum cost of around the current worldwide military budget, probably much less. The question therefore is: What's stopping us? To answer that we need to look at the causes of global warming -- not the physical causes, but the economic and political flaws in our system that have prevented solutions from being implemented long after the problem was known. One driver is inequality and the maintenance of power that keeps inequality in place produces perverse incentives in resource use. Read the whole thing. (Note this will disappear behind a paywall eventually. I urge you to buy a copy of Zmag or subscribe to the electronic edition to support alternative media. But if you want to read it for free, grab your electronic copy now.)

Oil prices will go ... up?

No easy explanation for continued price increases in the oil markets

At the end of last year I predicted that the price of oil would go down; so far I have been terribly wrong. My prediction, shared by many other economists and energy experts, was premised on a reasonable assumption: Since the world was headed for an economic slowdown, brought about the housing bubble and the financial crisis, global demand for energy would likely moderate, putting downward pressure on prices. While it was a sensible prediction, I am happy that no one took me up on my bet. So what happened?

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