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Dirty hippies at it again

Another agrofuel protest hits City Hall

Candace Heckman, writing for the Seattle P-I Big Blog, put up a brief post about the protest yesterday by Duff Badgley and his rag-tag group against local biodiesel-refiner Imperium Renewables. Imperium is getting downright defensive: Imperium spokesman John Williams said this afternoon that the company is actively looking at "feedstocks" other than palm oil, and that for the next year-and-a-half, the City of Seattle would not be buying biodiesel made from palm. This blog post "makes it sound like at some point we might sell palm biodiesel to the city. We haven't, we don't and we won't." Get the violins …

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Green world unites behind auctioning carbon allowances

New U.S. Pirg report recommends 100 percent of allowances be auctioned

Speaking of auctioning the permits under a cap-and-trade system, yesterday U.S. PIRG released a new report: "Cleaner, Cheaper, Smarter: The Case For Auctioning Pollution Allowances In A Global Warming Cap-and-Trade Program." It argues for auctioning 100% of permits: Auctioning all allowances under a cap-and-trade program is fair, reduces the societal cost of achieving emission reductions compared to giving allowances to polluters for free, and promotes a transition to a clean energy economy. For those reasons, allowances should be auctioned in any global warming cap-and-trade program. Here's a statement of support for that position, signed by a gazillion green and progressive …

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Is this an emergency?

Is global warming the moral equivalent of World War II?

From Al Gore to Lester Brown, writers concerned about preventing the worst of global warming have proposed that our "commitment will need to be of a scale comparable to what we did during World War II." But the parallels never go beyond a vague reference. PBS is about to run a series, premiering this Sunday, called "The War," so it might be a good time to think a little more deeply about the connection. There are two main questions that need to be asked: Is global warming -- or more generally, the assault on the biosphere, including the wholesale destruction …

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Land-use decisions a key factor in emissions reduction, says analysis

How to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions? Building compact, mixed-use neighborhoods would be just as effective as much-touted policies like boosting fuel economy, cleaning up power plants, and building green, says a new analysis from the Urban Land Institute. The U.S. population is expected to grow 23 percent by 2030; under the sprawl-encouraging status quo, driving is expected to increase 59 percent in the same time period. But it doesn't have to be that way, says the ULI: some two-thirds of homes and other buildings expected to be needed by 2050 have yet to be built, and they don't have to …

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Adventures in the smart grid no. 3

Who will lead on advancing smart-grid technologies?

To bring on the amounts of variable wind and solar energy and plug-in vehicles needed to meet our vast energy challenges, we will need a smart grid capable of managing much more complex power flows. Outside of some progressive exemplars, however, don't expect leadership to come from the utility sector. Instead, changes will be forced by new policies and players, including some you might not expect, like big box retailers. Those were my key takeaways from the stellar line-up of smart grid speakers at the Discover Brilliant sustainable technology conference in Seattle this week. David has been blogging away from …

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Forget the light bulbs: Part II

Tidwell responds to scientists responding to Tidwell

The following is a guest essay by Mike Tidwell. It's a response to "The Power of Voluntary Actions," written by a phalanx of social scientists, which was itself a response to Tidwell's "Consider Using the N-Word Less." Tidwell is director of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network based in Takoma Park, Md. ----- My Sept. 4 essay on the merits of voluntary versus statutory responses to global warming triggered quite a firestorm of debate. Lots of readers agreed with me: All those happy lists in magazines and on web sites -- "10 things you can …

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Utility will pay for solar on Habitat for Humanity houses in California

Recognizing that solar electricity is a good investment in the long run but a bit spendy up front, utility Pacific Gas and Electric has agreed to pay for solar power on some 65 houses built by Habitat for Humanity in northern and central California next year. PG&E will donate about $1.2 million for panels and installation; low-income residents will see radically reduced electric bills. "For us it's not so much an environmental thing -- it's a cost issue," says Mark Crozet of Habitat. "It's a piece of their income that these families don't have to spend on electricity. It's a …

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Knowing as little as possible: a candidate competition

Thompson and Romney quibble over oil drilling in the Everglades

Here's a fun game for campaign reporters: Ask Fred Thompson questions. The results are often hilarious: Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson seemed taken by surprise when asked Tuesday about oil drilling in the Everglades, apparently unaware it's been a major Florida issue. Before answering, he laughed at the question. "Gosh, no one has told me that there's any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that's one of the things I need to learn while I'm down here," Thompson said after talking over state issues with Gov. Charlie Crist. Thompson, who has called for seeking U.S. oil resources wherever they …

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A problem of Florida-sized proportions

Arctic sea ice continues to melt at alarming rate

A chunk of Arctic sea ice roughly the size of Florida melted in just six days, according to scientists who warn that ice in the region continues to melt at an alarming rate. Reports are already surfacing of the detrimental effects such rapid habitat loss is having on marine mammals, such as polar bears, which use the ice to hunt and migrate. Most recently scientists have said polar bear populations could drop by 66 percent by mid-century. Virtually every day there is news about the impacts of climate change on the oceans, from whale deaths due to lack of food, …

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Tom Friedman is back -- and he's pessimistic

Urban growth rates in Qatar and China leave Friedman skeptical about climate change mitigation

First the good news from The New York Times: We have ended TimesSelect. All of our Op-Ed and news columns are now available free of charge. Additionally, The New York Times Archive is available free back to 1987. Good for them. Interestingly, even though I had paid my money to get TimesSelect, I pretty much stopped reading the stuff behind the barrier because I couldn't connect readers (i.e., you) to the material. The NYT had basically taken some of their best columnists out of the global discussion. Now they are back. Friedman has a new piece titled "Doha and Dalian" …

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