Climate & Energy

Live Earth is back, so get ready to rock

Mark your calendars for Oct. 5: Live Earth is back and ready to rock. Kevin Wall, founder of last summer’s international concert extravaganza, says that the October shows will be held on U.S. college campuses, and the focus will be on pushing the presidential candidates to address environmental issues. Locations, bands, and all other specifics are yet to be determined, but will Dreamy Al be involved again? Says Wall: “Absolutely.”

Carbon policy dilemma, 1

You can’t achieve the three goals of climate policy at once

I’ve been thinking about carbon policy lately (shocker, I know), prompted by recent interactions with Monica Prasad, Peter Barnes, and our own Sean Casten. The more I think about it, the more one of the central tensions becomes clear to me. Here are three goals for good climate legislation: Simplicity: The bill should not be hundreds of pages long, packed with addenda, loopholes, provisos, and over-specifications. Complexity boxes out ordinary citizens and insures gaming, rent-seeking, and inefficiency. Political buy-in: Reducing emissions the amount science indicates will likely occupy us for the next century. It is critically important that whatever system …

Obama plays it straight

Energy prices that tell the truth: the real presidential litmus test

Calling all greens: Barack Obama, battling to remain the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, this weekend took on the most sacred cow in American politics: cheap gas. Campaigning in Indiana, Obama distanced himself from the gas tax "holiday" proposed by Sen. John McCain, saying it may not bring down prices and would require raising other taxes to pay for highway maintenance. "The only way we're going to lower gas prices over the long term is if we start using less oil," Obama said in Anderson. McCain pounced, saying through a campaign spokesman that "Americans need strong leadership that can deliver lower gas prices and a healthier economy, not Barack Obama's inexperience and indecision." Obama's Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, did likewise, unveiling a new ad calling for suspension of the gasoline tax -- a proposal first advanced by McCain on April 15. As U.S. political campaigns go, the contrast between McCain-Clinton's playing the gas-tax card and Obama's brave clarity couldn't be clearer.

Green pay day

Green-collar jobs are real

There's lots of buzz about green-collar jobs these days (sort of like blue-collar jobs, but with a sustainable edge) -- whether you're listening to Obama, McCain, or Clinton; Gregoire, Kulongoski, or Schwarzenegger. You hear this kind of thing a lot: A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and the University of Tennessee found that producing 25 percent of all American energy fuel and electricity from renewables by the year 2025 would produce the following: "$700 billion of new economic activity, carbon emission reduction by 1 billion tons, and 5 million new jobs." Fine and dandy, but, some might ask "where are those five million new jobs? When will we see them?" Some skeptics have begun to ask whether it's bordering on hype. Big projections are just that - big projections. But there's nothing like local industry reporting 2000 new jobs here and 500 jobs there -- right in our neck of the woods -- and a steady stream of investment dollars to keep skeptics pondering the possibilities. So, we're happy to report a real-live green-collar workforce is materializing in the Northwest, and it's likely the wave is just gathering strength. With more policy measures encouraging green-tech investments and training programs it could swell to something much bigger. Looking at Oregon's green-collar boom, Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian calls it a "small tsunami." Some real numbers from Oregon and Washington:

The thing you really never hear

This column from Newsweek editor Evan Thomas is largely a witless recitation of conventional wisdom, but it does raise one point I want to make. It seems to me that every mainstream media figure in the world is out there saying a) tackling global warming is going to be horrendously expensive, involving great sacrifice and hardship on the part of ordinary families, and b) no one else has the courage to say A. But obviously everybody has the courage to say it. It’s conventional wisdom. Like the “courageous” but equally false notion that Social Security is in crisis, it’s one …

Big Oil: 'Together, We Can' ignore global warming

American Petroleum Institute ad promotes climate catastrophe

Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade organization for the oil and natural gas industry, has just begun running a feel-good commercial that argues "America's future" lies in drilling out domestic reserves of oil and natural gas. Here's what the ad says: Oil and natural gas powered the past. But the future? Fact is, a growing world will require more. 45 percent more by 2030, along with greatly expanding alternatives. We have substantial oil and natural gas resources right here. Enough to power 60 million cars and heat 160 million households for 60 years. With advanced technology and smart policies, together we can secure America's future. Log on to learn more. [Text: EnergyTomorrow.org / The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry] Watch it: The "facts" in Big Oil's ad are based on a 36-page API document [PDF] entitled "The Truth About Oil and Gasoline." This "primer" was published last week, with numerous figures and charts on oil company profits and gas prices, but nary a single mention of climate change or greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the facts Big Oil left out:

Lily Tomlin was right

Wags used to joke that Bush and Co. would put a coal-fired power plant in the Grand Canyon if you let them. As Lily Tomlin observed, "It's hard for cynics to keep up these days."

Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 2.5

What is the impact of peak oil and peak coal?

The goal of this post is to explore how peak oil and, yes, peak coal might affect the world's effort to stabilize CO2 concentrations. Here I present calculations I haven't seen anywhere else, and since different sources provide different numbers, please view these as a crude estimates. I welcome corrections. At recent growth rates for oil consumption, we are all but certain to peak in oil production within two decades -- and if we follow the recent trend-line for coal use (and for coal reserves), we could hit peak coal within three decades. It looks like it simply isn't possible for oil and coal use to sustain for decades the trends that led CO2 emissions to rise 3 percent per year since 2000, if the analysis below is roughly correct. That would be a very good piece of news. Oil: I have already written at length on oil (see "Peak Oil? Bring it on!"). In 2006, the world consumed about 85 million barrels a day (MMBD) of oil. Oil use had been rising about 2 percent per year, though the recent price jump may have slowed things a tad. And, for the first time, not just the "peakists" but the CEOs of major oil companies think we have a big problem.

Songs about the enemy of the human race

Friday music blogging: Kathy Mattea

It is rare that my idiosyncratic and widely ignored Friday music blogging overlaps with the subject matter that occupies the rest of my time. But today we have a happy confluence. Kathy Mattea is a Grammy-winning country artist, born in West Virginia. She had a string of hits in the ’80s and ’90s, but her turn to the social activism that fueled the original Appalachian folk music tradition has put her out of sync with current commercial radio appetites. After the Sago mine disaster, Mattea felt moved to respond somehow. She began researching the music that’s grown up around coal …

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