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Mock, yes, but then take a closer look

How about that GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard? Hard not to make fun of it, right? So hard, in fact, that Daily Grist failed. To not make fun of it. That is to say, they made fun of it. And by "they" I mean "we." Moving on. Beyond the mockery, there's actually a reasonably interesting story here, and less of a Paradigmatic Example of Our Greedy, Rotten Culture than you might think. Joel Makower, as usual, has the goods. This is particularly relevant: The launch of the card is accompanied by the release of a standard for carbon credits …

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Forthwith debunked

Every silver lining has a cloud -- or so we are told. Climate analyst Jesse Ausubel is getting a lot of press with his new, controversial, deeply flawed study, "Renewable and nuclear heresies" (available here with subscription, but you can get the main points from this 2005 Canadian Nuclear Association talk and the accompanying PPT presentation). He says ramping up renewables would lead to the "rape of nature." His study concludes: Renewables are not green. To reach the scale at which they would contribute importantly to meeting global energy demand, renewable sources of energy, such as wind, water and biomass, …

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Will you take it?

So, Reuters took a look at the EPA's economic analysis of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act (so I didn't have to!). In case your memory is hazy, the CSA is a cap-and-trade bill that would cut emissions 65% by 2050. Here's the nut: The EPA found that the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 would shave up to 1.6 percent, or $419 billion, off a baseline forecast for U.S. gross domestic product in 2030 and up to 3.2 percent, or $1.332 trillion, by 2050. That is, by any reasonable measure, a modest price to pay. Even so, I bet …

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Making electricity visible helps reduce consumption

Here's what might be an ingenious idea, as reported by Wired: Mark Martinez couldn't get Southern California Edison customers to conserve energy. As the utility's manager of program development, he had tried alerting them when it was time to dial back electricity use on a hot day -- he'd fire off automated phone calls, zap text messages, send emails. No dice. Then he saw an Ambient Orb. It's a groovy little ball that changes color in sync with incoming data -- growing more purple, for example, as your email inbox fills up or as the chance of rain increases. Martinez …

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New investigative report

Don't miss Jason Leopold's crack investigative reporting on Truthout today: This story is based on a two-month investigation into Cheney's energy task force; how the vice president pressured cabinet officials to conceal clear-cut evidence of market manipulation during California's energy crisis, and how that subsequently led Cheney to exert executive privilege when lawmakers called on him to turn over documents related to his meetings with energy industry officials who helped draft the National Energy Policy and also gamed California's power market. Truthout spoke with more than a dozen former officials from the Energy Department and FERC as well as current …

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Dumb arguments rear their heads yet again

A reader pointed me to a letter in the South China Morning Post, "Cold water on the warming debate" (subs. req'd). The writer, a senior research fellow of the HK Institute of Economics and Business, rehashes a number of mistaken arguments I hear all too often: Many people fail to knit together these two strands - climate change and the exhaustion of fossil fuels. If they did, they would see that the energy crisis, which is predicted as a result of the exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves, contains the seeds of the resolution of the global warming crisis. As fossil …

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Can’t we offset something other than carbon?

Lordy, this is getting out of hand: Under the agreement announced Wednesday, the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will allow individuals or groups to make charitable contributions that will be used to plant trees and do other work to improve national forests. ... Under the new program, known as the Carbon Capital Fund, consumers can "offset" their carbon emissions by investing in projects on national forests to plant trees and improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and help restore public lands damaged by natural disasters such as wildfires. Tell me, why can't you give money to "plant trees …

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It’s all about coal

More from James Hansen's email: I was invited to go on stage at "Live Earth" at the Meadowlands, between Jon Bon Jovi and Smashing Pumpkins performances. I agreed to this, on the condition that I could bring my grandchildren, Sophie and Connor. I assumed it would be like last year when I appeared with Al Gore before a young audience, with a rather impromptu discussion of global warming. Bad assumption. When I asked "Where's Al?", I was told that I would be going out alone, and didn't I have something to put on the teleprompter? Hmm. Well, with someone standing …

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New coal-fired plants are unlikely

This from the Wall Street Journal today: From coast to coast, plans for a new generation of coal-fired power plants are falling by the wayside as states conclude that conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high. If significant numbers of new coal plants don't get built in the U.S. in coming years, it will put pressure on officials to clear the path for other power sources, including nuclear power, or trim the nation's electricity demand, which is expected to grow 1.8% this year. In a time of rising energy costs, …

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Moderate senators are ready to get on board

As Joe mentioned yesterday, four moderate-to-conservative senators -- John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) -- just proposed a measure to achieve "Cost-Containment for the Carbon Market." I wanted to spend a bit of time on what's in it and what it means. You might think, given the business-friendly senators involved, that the measure's going to be a gimmick to let industries off the hook. Happily, it was jointly developed with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, a sharp new outfit at Duke University. It appears to be a credible attempt to devise …